Tuesday, December 6, 2011

know your audience...know your limits!

About 4 or 5 years ago, I attended a bible study with a physical therapy friend.  It was a women's bible study and the first night we did the usual:  give our name, maybe what we do, an ice breaker question and so on and so forth.  Well, before my friend and I could have our turns, one of the girls told us how she just graduated from physical therapy assistance school.  Someone asked her the difference between that and a physical therapist and she said, "Well, it's pretty much the same thing except we can't do evaluations and progress notes"?!?!?!  Believe you and me, it was all my friend and I could do to hold back our words.  She was completely and 100% wrong in her statement.

I don't understand when people elevate themselves like that or somewhat disrespect those who have actually done the work.  You can imagine the slight looks her way when my friend and I introduced ourselves as physical therapists!  She did kind of sheepishly sink back a little too.

Now, I am not saying physical therapists assistance are not valuable.  However, there is a significantly MAJOR difference in educational background and training background.  Physical therapy programs are composed of an extensive curriculum that includes in depth courses such as neuroanatomy, neuro management, research statistics, small business management, complete research and thesis project, and probably the most important:  GROSS ANATOMY.  I know, you all just thought of the movie, but it is the key.  You can not understand the workings of the human body and do hands on treatment without knowing the extensive three-dimensional components of the human body.  It is the key to knowing what structures are where.  Physical therapy assistance programs do a one day visit to a pro section for viewing...that's it.  Plus, you have to consider that the current entry-level physical therapist is a doctorate program.  Recently with the addition of about 12 credit units, the universities basically said you can no longer award these students "just" a master's degree, the credit units are now the equivalent of a doctorate. 

So, I actually thought some about this physical therapist assistance and her comment.  One, possible insecurity in herself that she had to elevate herself.  Two, she had no idea of the extensive curriculum of a physical therapy program.  Three, she was young(yes, she was) with no "real world" experience.  So, yet another distinction:  before being accepted into a physical therapy program you have to have completed a B.S. in certain distinctive fields, for a physical therapy assistance program, you can enter right out of high school or as an "adult" student with no other degree or education.  So, a physical therapist assistance "degree" is an associates degree or a certificate.

Is there anything wrong with having an associates degree or certificate?  Absolutely not.  However, if you try to elevate yourself above your education and claim to have the skills of a degreed and licensed professional well, that is where you can get into trouble.  You become a self-titled fraud and you put others at risk!  I think that is what bothered me the most.  She can belittle me and disrespect my degree and official title, she can be ignorant of the differences in curriculums or even THINK of herself as something more than what she is.  However, the main thing is that she is DANGEROUS to patients!

If she elevates herself beyond her degree and goes into the field with an attitude that she is a physical therapist, knowing she has associates/certificate education/experience, she will HURT PATIENTS!!!  And that is what I am NOT okay with!  The self-titled in any field can be dangerous and more often than not, they end up hurting people because they really don't understand the breadth and depth of curricular design or professional experience.



  1. This is why you should ask for proper licenses and physical therapy documentation before going to see "that one guy" downtown who advertises physical therapy. Good read, and good advice, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for reading, willg. Yea, I have been expposed to this in PT and in other areas. Live and learn. And, I will research someone's official credentials from now on before just trusting that they are what they claim to be without the appropriate education or experience.

  3. Hi Tammy,

    I liked your article. Yes, you are correct, in order to get the best help that we need, there is the necessity to check out people's credentials. Like when it comes to brain surgery ... we want the person with the correct credentials for that job. LOL!! :)

  4. Thanks for reading, Barb. I do think it applies to about everything. As you know, after writing your Spiritual Abuse Recovery book, those in leadership can abuse. Problems like spiritual abuse can be a leader that is insecure adn wants control. But, it can also be a leader that is not experienced or educated in helping those in the congregation.