All In The Family

By on December 28, 2018

Karen Kelly left work to stay home with her kids. Now she’s changed careers to be a Physical Therapy Assistant—and she loves it. 

Karen Kelly, B.S., Ph.D., A.S., was a biochemistry researcher for 17 years. When she had children she decided to stay home with them. Sixteen years later, she wanted to come back to a different type of work—something with people. She attended Bay State College’s Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program, and is now a PTA at Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy, in Needham, Mass. Here’s how she got there, and why she loves it.



Bay State College: How did you decide to study to be a PTA, and why Bay State? 

Karen Kelly: I knew I wanted to go back into a professional field. Our whole family had been exposed to physical therapy and we loved the outpatient clinic that we went to, so I thought that might be an option. When I learned that there was such a thing as a PTA and it was a two-year program, it sounded perfect. I liked the location of Bay State, and when I went and met the faculty I was really impressed with it. 


BSC: How were you exposed to PT? 

KK: My son played soccer in high school and he had a pretty significant knee injury. I saw the strengthening and the preventative aspect of PT. The irony is that not only myself but my younger son—the first one injured—is now in a DPT program, and my other son is in the Bay State PTA program! 


BSC: How does being an actual PTA compare with your classes? 

KK: The preparation was excellent and working as a PTA in an outpatient clinic is what I was hoping for. I am pretty independent in treating patients, I have my own schedule, and I make clinical decisions about progressing patients.


BSC: What is a typical day like for you as a PTA? 

KK: I see between 8 and 15 patients on average per day. A major portion of what I do is exercise prescription, teaching patients exercises and progressing or regressing them. Frequently a treatment involves soft tissue massage to address tissue restrictions, or manual therapy to help decrease pain and improve range of motion. 


BSC: What’s your favorite part of your job? 

KK: Interacting with the patients. You build relationships with people over the weeks or months that you’re working with them. I like when I see them improving and regaining function to do the activities they enjoy.


BSC: What would you say to a student considering BSC for PTA? 

KK: It’s a great program. It’s a very cooperative learning environment where everyone is supportive and positive. Many of the faculty were available evenings, weekends and by email communication. I think a huge part of it is that you knew they were invested in our success.