Prompted by a growing need for cardiac and physical rehabilitation, the number of active job opportunities for physical therapist aides is on a steady rise. By 2022, the government expects more than 20,000 additional aides nationwide will have already secured gainful employment. This represents a 41 percent upsurge in the sum of hospital workers that were transporting patients and preparing treatment areas in 2012. Those entering this field must be computer literate, able to handle multiple tasks and knowledgeable of proper body mechanics and lifting techniques.

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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“The key responsibilities as an aide is to make sure the patients remain in a safe environment when doing physical or occupational therapy,” said Andres Zavala, Jr., an aide in the rehabilitation department at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. “Another main duty is to be an extra pair of hands and eyes to make sure the patients’ vitals are normal and their balance is stable.”

What qualifications helped you land this position?

“I was attending California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, studying for my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with an option of exercise science. It was my major that gave me some of the background knowledge I needed to get into the job.”

Why did you aspire to become an aide?

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“I wanted to start familiarizing myself with the medical fields I could be working in. It is a great opportunity to gain the type of work experience that will put me ahead of other students applying to the different graduate programs.”

What is the best way to prepare for a sustainable career as an aide?

“To have a sustainable career as an aide, one needs to take care of his or her own body by exercising and eating right, because this type of work requires you to use your body to help patients move.”

What is your message to endeavoring aides?

“To pursue a career as an aide, it is extremely helpful to have a background in the field. Also, those hoping to enter this line of work will need to be proficient with teamwork and possess excellent oral and written communication skills.”

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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.