TJC Physical Therapist Assistant students attend national conference in Boston | TJC

TJC Physical Therapist Assistant students attend national conference in Boston

Fifteen students from TJC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program recently returned from their first American Physical Therapy Association conference in Boston.

There, they gained practical insights into their chosen profession and learned a bit about themselves in the process.
“ATPA is a huge conference of almost 16,000 attendees, including physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, students, educators and clinicians,” said Amanda Storer, TJC PTA professor. “It encompasses the combined sections of the association, so there’s the orthopedic section, women’s health section, pediatrics, sports, etc. It’s all of these different aspects of the APTA that come together to form this conference.”
“It was basically Disney World for physical therapy,” said Hadley Smith, a PTA major from Tyler. “I had never been to a conference this big before. It was really exciting. There were hundreds of classes offered every day, so we got choose what we found interesting and, because of that, I think I took away so much more than I had expected.”
After earning her degree in May, Smith intends to specialize in pelvic health and pediatrics, but she also branched out and took a class on the benefits of sleep and the musculoskeletal system that was led by military officers.
“That was very different for me, just to see the PT side of the military was something I had never thought about,” she said. “Because I got to listen to so many PTs who were so knowledgeable about the fields I want to go into, I think it just made my interest even more and confirmed what I wanted to do all along.”
Smith’s classmate Nathan Reese, of Longview, agreed, “We were able to learn about new studies and techniques in the world of physical therapy which will be very valuable information in the future for us students. We were able to see unique and cool pieces of equipment that were new as well.
“I know attending this conference will help my future profession because it taught me so much and brought a greater admiration toward physical therapy to see so many people come together to learn what is best for the patients.”
In addition to classes and the exhibit hall, the students were also encouraged to do some networking and meet with job recruiters.
“These are second-year students who will be looking for jobs this summer,” Storer said, “so they were taking their resumes around and meeting potential employers. They will graduate in May and take their national boards in July, but they can get jobs right after graduation and work under a temporary licensure until they pass their boards. Some of them are looking for travel jobs, and there are tons of travel companies out there. Some are interested in skilled nursing facilities, and the parent company for the skilled nursing facilities was at the conference.”
Since the conference was in historic Boston, the students were also encouraged to experience the city.
Smith said, “As soon as the conference was over at the end of the day, we put on as many layers of clothes as we could, walked through the snow and went to see all the sights, hear all the sounds and eat all the food — and we had lobster in every form. We walked an average of 12 miles a day.”
She added, “For my classmates and me, there are 15 of us and we’ve really bonded and gone through a lot together over the past two years. We want to thank TJC for allowing us to go and for supporting us in different ways. It was truly a memory of a lifetime that brought us all together and made us realize that this is our field and we all made the right decision. It was a great opportunity to help us in our future.”
About the program
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and assist the physical therapist in the treatment of individuals with medical and health-related conditions which limit their ability to perform functional activities.
The goal of physical therapy treatment is to restore function, reduce pain and prevent disability. PTAs provide care for people in hospitals, outpatient clinics, patients’ homes, schools, work settings, nursing homes and fitness facilities.
The TJC PTA program is five semesters long and includes three, six-week clinical rotations under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. TJC faculty members provide a combination of individual attention, a friendly atmosphere and a small student-to-faculty ratio.
The TJC program has held a 100-percent pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) since the program graduated its first cohort of students in 2017. Also, 100 percent of TJC graduates have been employed at PTAs within their first year of graduation.
For more on the TJC Physical Therapist Assistant program, go to

TJC news RSS feed