Out of left field: Bova knew immediately physical therapy was his new occupation
It’s easy to be inspired by the people taking care of us right now.
Most of those people were inspired to join their profession in the first place.
A Physical Therapy Assistant at Warren General Hospital, Paul Bova is a perfect example.
“The summer of 1999, I was playing softball in the Sunday Slow Pitch League. I injured my knee and ended up going to CTI Physical Therapy for rehab,” said Bova. “It was there that I discovered the role of a Physical Therapist Assistant. I was interested in this type of work, but being 31 years old with a family to raise, going back to school didn’t seem like an option for me.
“In 2004 I decided that I needed a career change,” he said. “I had been working third shift for over 13 years and I just felt it was time to do something new. Once again, my mind went back to my experience at CTI and I decided it was worth looking into what it would take to get my degree as a PTA. My wife and I researched the availability of PTA programs close to home and found PItt-Titusville offered exactly what I was looking for. We scheduled a visit to the school to find out more about the program. We really liked the school and how wonderful the Program
Director and her staff were. I applied for admission into the program and after completing 20 volunteer hours in Physical Therapy at Warren General Hospital, I was accepted. Going back to college at 36 years old while continuing to work my full-time third shift job and spending time with my family proved extremely difficult. After my first semester, with the amazing support of my wife, our children, and our families, I quit my job in order to focus all of my attention on my classes. The program at Pitt-Titusville was fantastic!. The class had 11 students ranging in
age from 19 to 44. We became very close. I am still in contact with many of my professors and classmates.”
Bova has always enjoyed helping people and was inspired by his experience rehabbing at CTI.
“I found the physical healing along with
the camaraderie between patient and therapist to be satisfying,” said Bova. “It was definitely a career I wanted to be part of.
“A typical day in the life of a PTA consists of following the patients plan of care, as directed by the Physical Therapist,” he said. “Each appointment typically begins by taking the vitals of the patient. From there, we move into the applicable activities for the patient, which may include stretching, strengthening exercises, balance activities, gait training, education on use of assistive devices (ie cane, walker, crutches), providing safety awareness, training caregivers how to properly preform transfers, and equally as important, providing a sympathetic ear to listen to whatever the patient needs to talk about.
“I have worked in just about every type of Physical Therapy setting from outpatient clinics, to skilled nursing facilities,
to home health,” said Bova. “I can’t say I have one memory that outshines the others. I enjoy watching each of my patients achieve the goals and milestones set for them and become the best they can be physically be.
“For me, the most difficult situations have definitely been providing therapy for patients in order to keep them as comfortable as possible as they near the end of life,” he said. “It’s not providing the therapy that is difficult, it is the emotional connection we make as human beings that make these situations a little more difficult on a personal level.
“The coronavirus has made the job a little more challenging,” said Bova. “Obviously you want to do everything you can to protect yourself, your family and your patients. I have an immunocompromised daughter at home. The last thing I want to do is bring ANY illness home to her! Every item that is used during an appointment is disinfected
before and after each use. I always wear a mask and gloves and wash my hands often. I carry hand sanitizer with me at all
times as well. It’s all about basic hygiene, but I think we’ve all had a wake-up call as to how important these things are. The virus has brought about a sense of community. It’s nice to see people helping people. I hope this trend
continues as our lives begin to return to normal. I also hope that the heightened awareness of basic hygiene has become more of a way of life for us. It goes a long way in terms of staying healthy.
“I have definitely had to change my way of thinking. I always disinfected all of my equipment used at a visit pre-virus. Physical therapy is very ‘hands-on’ work. Previous to the virus, I never really gave any thought to reaching out to guide a patient’s movements or offer support without wearing any personal protective equipment. Because of the virus, staying safe is in the forefront of everybody’s mind.
“If you’ve ever had to have physical therapy then you know it can be painful at times,” said Bova. “It is all part of the healing process. My job is to provide my patients with the tools, education, support and motivation that is necessary for them to achieve the end goal. As a PTA, I have found approaching each patient with honesty, compassion, understanding, a sense of humor, and a positive attitude make for a successful outcome.”