Donna Dung | Physical Therapy Assistant
What type of organization is Easterseals Massachusetts and what is your role as a Physical Therapy Assistant?
Easterseals Massachusetts (ESMA) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing various services to people of all ages with disabilities in order to live their lives to the fullest. These services include (but not limited to) providing assistive technology, youth mentorship and leadership programs, employment services for all people including veterans, and of course, rehabilitation services. As part of the Rehabilitation Services team, not only do you get to provide direct therapy to individuals, your services also help fund the other ESMA programs listed above, therefore widening your impact on individuals who are in need.
Describe a typical day at Easterseals Massachusetts.
As part of the ESMA team, you get to provide rehabilitation services to a wide range of individuals in a variety of settings. You could be working with a 5-year-old student with autism on how to kick a ball at their home one morning and then you could be working with an 89-year-old person who is recovering from hip surgery at a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in the afternoon. As you can see, a typical day for an ESMA therapist is not all that typical! Each day can be different from the next in terms of the students/patients you will see and the settings you are in.
What type of settings do you work in?
As mentioned above, you could be working with students of all ages directly in their homes, on a one-on-one basis at school, or even within a group/class setting (e.g., gym class). You could also be working with the adult/geriatric population within a day habilitation program or within a skilled nursing facility.
Will I be on my own? Do I have any constant colleagues?
While you may be at a site on your own, you are never completely alone! This is especially true if it is your first time working with a student or at a school, your supervisor or a Level III therapist will come out in person and help orient you to the student/school. From there, your supervisor is available by email/phone for any and all questions you may have. If it is your first time at a specific SNF, the ESMA team will give you information such as where to park, where to check in, who the Rehab Director is, etc. Then when you arrive, the Rehab Director will orient you to the facility and your patients.
There are other ESMA therapists out in the field as well and you may be both assigned to the same facility at times. However, social activities are usually scheduled every month so that ESMA therapists can meet up and hang out!
Is this a good position for a new graduate? Is there a mentoring program?
As a new graduate myself, I believe this is a good job to start off with. As mentioned before, ESMA provides you with an opportunity to treat a variety of patients in multiple settings, sometimes even in one day. When I went through my clinical education, I did not have the opportunity to try a school-based PT setting and now I get to have a taste of that within my caseload.
Like with any new job, there is a lot of on-the-job learning but the mentoring that ESMA has provided me has been wonderful. I was given the opportunity to shadow more experienced PTs and PTAs in both school and SNF settings until I felt ready to treat on my own. Also, my supervising PT for the school settings was present at my first session and it continues to give me lots of advice and suggestions on how to help my students reach their goals. I am also in constant contact with my supervisors and the ESMA administration as I usually have questions about the business-side of things as a new employee. Everyone at ESMA has been patient and kind and I am always impressed by how well organized the team is!
Overall, I believe I have definitely grown as a therapist after working with ESMA or just a few months. I am learning more about my own abilities and preferences, how to work with a variety of personalities, both young and old, and I am learning so much about my role as a PTA in the various settings I am at. If you are interested in learning and challenging yourself, please consider working for ESMA!
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