Anna Flores is a Doctor of Physical Therapy located in the state of Florida. She has been working as a physical therapist for over 10 years and worked as a physical therapist assistant for 10 years beforehand. She was raised in Łomza, Poland, until she moved to New York at 18. She raised her children there and got her degrees before moving to Florida for her first official PT job offer. Today, we have spoken with her about why she decided to pursue physical therapy and her career as a PT.
Her Campus (HC): What made you decide to pursue physical therapy compared to other options? Your parents were both M.D.s, right?
Anna Flores (AF): Yes, both of my parents were doctors in Poland. Many people, including my mother, told me that being a doctor is a demanding profession. The actual work was very hard, especially pediatrician, which was my mother's specialty. I came from Poland and didn't speak English very well. When I moved to New York, my aunt, a nurse, mentioned that physical therapy was an excellent profession.
HC: Have you ever wished you had pursued a different career?
AF: Yes, of course! You have to consider all your options, and it's not like you pick one career and stick with it or are set on it forever. Once I was in higher schooling and got accepted (which was very hard), I was stuck with it. I would sometimes think about the fact that if I stayed a little longer, I could be a doctor. But at the same time, I was older and already had kids. I knew I couldn't just stay in school forever.
HC: What does a day of work look like for you?
AF: In the mornings, I come in and print my schedule. Then I take a look at the patients and check who I'm seeing for the day. If I don't know any of the patients I'm seeing, I'll look them up and look at their documentation. Afterward, I go onto the floor, see a few patients, document, and then come back to have lunch. Then I'll just do the same thing all over again until my day is over and I can leave. Sometimes we will have meetings that range from 10-15 minutes at different parts of the day. They're usually about new rules in the facility, such as now with COVID-19.
HC: Would you say you have free time to do things you enjoy other than work?
AF: Yes, but when I get back home I am oftentimes very tired. I usually work the typical hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. At one point, I did work part-time, but it is hard to work part-time and make enough money to sustain yourself on your own.
HC: What are the different types of PT work you can do?
AF: There are many different types of physical therapy work that you can do. First, there are hospitals that are considered the acute setting. There are also nursing homes where most have the sub-acute setting, one floor where people come just for therapy and then leave after a set time. Other parts of the building come for long term care. There are outpatient clinics where you go to an appointment for therapy and go back home and home care where the PT goes to people's homes. Assisted living facilities are where people live in apartments but have nurses available for their medications and such. They can eat by themselves or go to the dining room to eat. These patients are free to go and come back whenever they want. Lastly, physical therapists also work in schools with physically disabled children, or in special needs schools for those born with muscle problems or anything else.
HC: What is the best and worst part of being a PT?
AF: I'd say that the best part is that you get to see the progress from when the patient gets there until they can move again. The worst part is when you have a person (an older patient or child) that you know will never walk again. However, you can still teach them how to transport, whether from the chair or from the bed or otherwise. Or when you have a patient who doesn't want to participate in physical therapy and you know they will be wheelchair or bed-bound for the rest of their life. Patients who have diseases that don't have a cure as well.
HC: Would you recommend PT school for someone looking into medicine?
AF: Of course! If someone is interested in physical therapy, the school was not easy to get through and very competitive to get into. I went to school years ago, so I'm sure things are different now. Still, I was doing a dual bachelor's and a doctorate in physical therapy. I had to do research for a full year at the hospital where I came once every two weeks to do different tests with different patients, wrote a thesis, presented it, etc. Then you present it to a group, and they ask you questions and such. I also had a non-paid internship for 8 months, all split for the different types/settings. Overall, I would recommend it for anyone interested.