Phil Gray, PTA, MA, MSHCA

Published - May 2, 2017

Phil Gray, PTA, MA, MSHCA

Faculty member Phil Gray, of the Physical Therapy Assistant program, sat down with us to discuss CBD College and his role in the Physical Therapy field.

Employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to increase 41 percent from 2012 to 2022, in response to the health needs of an aging population and particularly the large baby-boom generation. CBD College will prepare you for a dynamic, challenging and rewarding career as a Physical Therapist Assistant.

Phil GrayCBD College is home to the city of LA’s only CAPTE Accredited PTA Program.  Led by their fearless program director, Dr. Kathy Giffin, CBD College’s PTA program trains in our state of the art labs and has a large affiliate network of clinical externships sites. Upon successful completion of the program, our students are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and the California Law Examination (CLE).

What do your professional and educational designations stand for?

Professional and Educational  designations:

1. PTA = Physical Therapist Assistant

2. MA = Master of Arts (Sociology)

3. MSHCA = Master of Science Health Care Administration

I know you’re the Director of Clinical Education.  What does that mean for CBD students?

As the Director of Clinical Education, (DCE), for Physical Therapists Assistant here at CBD, I have a great job that has several facets, with probably the most important being the placement of all the students of a cohort (same class) into real clinical settings, such as hospitals and sports medicine clinics.  What I like our students to know is how seriously I take the responsibility to give them these experiences.  So, for instance, I make it my business to personally know the clinics and professional Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants I select as instructors for our students.  And it doesn’t end there.

It’s also my job to follow the progress of each student in each clinic, to be responsive to them, and their clinical instructors throughout their time in the clinic.  Like I said, it’s a great job, but a big one.   CBD has one of the largest accredited PTA schools in the country.  My job could not be done without the right team, which we have administratively as well as with our instructors, and my Assistant DCE, Dr. McGuire.  Together, we begin planning and shaping a successful clinical experience right from the start of the student’s first day.

How many years have you been in the field?  

Promise not to gasp, but I have been a licensed PTA for over 35 years.  Physical Therapy has literally been my life.  Like many of my colleagues, I started on a different path.  Many moons ago, I earned a high school scholarship to the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena.  But it was a difficult time for my family then, my mom was a single parent with six kids.  I was the oldest, so art school was not a priority then.

As a Registered Nurse, my mom helped me get a job as a surgical orderly in a local hospital.  That was the start of my healthcare career.  I eventually made good friends with some therapists in the hospital’s Physical Therapy department.  It was because of those therapists that I decided to stay in healthcare and become a PTA.  It turned out to be a very good decision.

When did you start at CBD College?

I joined the Physical Therapist Assistant Program here at CBD a bit over two years ago, in 2015.

What led you to pursue instructing?

Well, to be perfectly honest, my pursuit was to achieve an administrative position after earning a Master’s Degree in HealthCare Administration.  A couple of years later, still looking for the right position in healthcare administration, I met our CEO and president, Alan Heshel.  He invited me to consider the position as Director of Clinical Education, here at CBD, which I accepted. The position also came with some instructor duties, which I also enjoy very much, in concert with my role as DCE.

Who has been your greatest inspiration or mentor?

As far as the field of Physical Therapy goes, I have known many great Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants.  To name only one that has inspired me would be an injustice.  I do feel strongly that they all shaped me to some degree. 

How are you involved with Physical Therapy outside of CBD College?

I stay socially close with Physical Therapy colleagues who are now longtime friends.  I read Physical Therapy journals and keep up with current events affecting the Physical Therapy industry. I also maintain partnership in the APTA and California Physical Therapy Associations.

Do you have any advice for potential students interested in pursuing a career in PT or healthcare in general?

If a person feels called to make a difference that counts, then be a clinician in the healthcare professions. Yes, it’s hard work, no doubt about it.  But now more than ever, healthcare professionals- and PTAs, in particular, are hands-down some of the most sought after professionals in the country.  The hard work is nothing compared to the huge dividends by the end.  I say go for it.

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