When we spoke with Josephine Encinas she was finishing up her last externship week in the Physical Therapy Technology (PTT) program  in Tucson, AZ. She will walk the stage at her graduation ceremony in May.
Josephine started the PTT certificate program in May 2016. Josephine and her boyfriend Santos both want to improve their future health care careers through education.
“Both Santos and I were determined to better our futures. We both wanted to go back to school to pursue our careers. Santos went to Carrington too; he started the Pharmacy Technology program  in 2015. I started the PTT program in May of 2016.”
Josephine has worked in customer service for the past three and a half years. Before that, she was a recreation specialist/ leadership teacher & student counselor.
“Right now I work as a recreation assistant, but I wanted to do more for people. I wanted more patient interaction than customer service I guess you could say. That comes from a feeling of wanting to help people more. I wanted to get into a health care role, rather than just customer service.”
A Personal Decision
The decision for Josephine to go into the health care field, and to become a physical therapy technician in particular, was a deeply personal one.
“I’m going to get a little emotional, so I’m sorry for that, but it has to do with my mom. She has a lot of health problems. I felt that if I did this, I could help her as much as I can, more than I could before. But it’s not just about helping my mom, it’s helping anybody who is in that type of situation.”
Find Your Passion
Josephine discovered her passion for her career over the last nine months, especially in her externship.
“At my extern I’ve helped one particular lady, and just to see her progress over the last six weeks has been amazing. When she first came in she couldn’t move her neck. I’ve helped her with her therapies and exercises, and I’ve noticed a huge difference. I realized I’ve helped her get better and that’s my reward! I love that feeling!”
Josephine is doing her six week externship at Tucson Chiropractic Center, where they have a physical therapy area and lots of equipment to help her build her experience.
“It’s a chiropractic office so I’m mainly working with patients with spine, back and neck issues. Every once in a while we’ll get somebody with a wrist, knee or elbow issue too. I help the patients do their rehab exercises. I do ultrasound, I use the TENS unit and a combo unit they call the B7 which is a combined TENS and ultrasound unit; patients love it, it’s so relaxing. They also have a traction table and a roller table which rolls out the spine. Patients love that too!”
The doctors at the extern site have talked to Josephine about her strengths, which are interacting with the patients and educating them on what’s going to happen.
“If they’ve never had a treatment before, like TENS [electrical stimulation]4, it can sound scary. But you can’t have them be scared because that tenses them up. So I talk them through it all to try to relax them, to put them at ease.”
Your Future is What You Make it
Josephine said she doesn’t know if there’s going to be a job for her at the end of her externship; she’ll have an interview in her last week, where she’ll learn more about her strengths, her weaknesses and what the future holds.
“If they don’t hire me that’s fine because I’m so grateful for the experience they gave me. I’ve learned so much; I’m picking up a lot, and I now know what to expect. One thing one of the doctors told me, which was very useful, is that not all physical therapists are the same.
“Some PTs might want you to stick to 15 minutes, moving patients through without too much interaction, while others may be happy for you to take time to chat with, and relax the patients. I guess you have to follow what your PT asks of you, but I think it’s important to let patients know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
This is just the beginning of Josephine’s health care education. She has big plans for the future.
“Right now I’m working on getting into Carrington’s Health Studies program.”
Since Health Studies is an online program, Josephine will be able to fit it around her work schedule. In the short term she plans to keep working as a recreation assistant, but they know she’s on the hunt for a PTT position.
“I had an interview over the Christmas period with a physical therapy office. It was meant to be a meet and greet, but turned into an interview. Because I’m still on extern, he told me to wait until I was done and then give him a call. Hopefully there’ll be an opportunity there.”
Setting a Great Example
Josephine and Santos have been together for five years. Santos has two kids – Damian, 13, and Jacinda, 16. They hope they’re setting a great examples for them by furthering their education later in life.
“They’re pretty good kids; they’re into school functions and sports. In May, Damian will be graduating 8th grade and I’ll be graduating from Carrington. We get to experience that together, and I think that’s really neat. It shows him that you can always achieve your dreams and learn new things if you put your mind to it.”
A Word of Advice
Now that she’s in the final days of the PTT program, Josephine has some advice if you’re just starting out. “Remember your purpose; if it’s really what you want to do, go for it. It’s going to be scary at times. If you’re in your 30s like me, you’ve been out of school for awhile! But you’ve just got to pick it up!
There may be setbacks, it can be hectic, it can be overwhelming – especially the first six weeks – but push forward and succeed. Remember your purpose, why you’re doing the program. For me it was always being able to help my mom and help others. That was my purpose. There was nothing that was going to stop me. Whenever I had a moment where I felt overwhelmed, I stopped, took a break and refocused on my purpose.”
Everybody goes to school to learn things about their program and their career, but along the way students also learn things about themselves. What stood out to Josephine was something she learned about the patients she now works with.
“For me it was learning a new respect for people who are injured. I know how humble I can be; but I’ve always been the person on the outside looking in. It’s easy to walk past a person on crutches or in a wheelchair and take it for granted when you’re not involved. But now I really empathize with what they’re going through.”
Although she had some “moments”, Josephine has pushed on to succeed. She had some fun along the way and made some great friends too. But she always remembered her purpose and how important it is to learn everything she could.
“I had to aim high, to discipline myself for better grades. If I got a C, that wasn’t good enough for me. I need to know what I’m learning because if I don’t, I could hurt somebody, and I don’t want to do that.”
To learn more about the Physical Therapy Technology program at Carrington College, click here.
 Under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
 The degree is awarded from the Boise, Phoenix North, Sacramento or Spokane campus.