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Success Spotlights

Concorde Aurora PTA Program Director, Aileen, Serves Community in English & Spanish

Concorde Staff

Concorde Staff

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Updated October 16, 2023. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
Concorde Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director Aileen Paez, MPT

“Physical therapy has always felt like a calling, whether it was through the various positions I have held or the volunteer work that I love. Although I continue to love being a therapist and will continue to work and volunteer in the field until I cannot anymore, my new direction has taken me to teach the next generation of therapists. My hope is to impart knowledge, critical thinking, and a desire for excellence, commitment, altruism, and compassion,” wrote Aileen Paez in her LinkedIn profile introduction.

In just one conversation with Aileen, it becomes instantly apparent that she is authentic with her words and actions. Aileen is a well-liked, much-respected instructor and mentor; an active community volunteer; and a major proponent of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. She is passionate about her role as Concorde's Director of Physical Therapist Assistant Programs In Aurora, CO (a suburb of Denver). She joined Concorde 11 years ago, first serving as a Physical Therapist Assistant program instructor. Aileen was promoted to the assistant program director position in April 2017.

Aileen started her physical therapy career at Mercy Hospital in Miami in August 1997 and later worked as a physical therapist at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. She previously owned and operated Aileen Pinto Home Health for three years in Miami, providing specialized home-based physical therapy services. Aileen continues to work part-time at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver as a physical therapist. She is committed to always striving to be her best; to advocating for higher education and healthcare higher education for herself and others as well as the healthcare profession as a whole; and volunteering for Operation Walk Denver medical mission trips in Central America and South America, where her Spanish-language and healthcare skills are much needed and appreciated.

Influencing Positive Change, Bridging Gaps

Aileen says she was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare by her Colombian parents and Colombian abuela – “grandmother” in Spanish -- who would always advise her to “give more than you get.” “I was born in New York City and lived in Miami for several years -- cities that embrace our strong Hispanic-Latinx ties to family, community, and culture. When I was eight or nine years old and the oldest of my cousins, I started going with my grandmother to her doctors’ appointments after I got out of school to translate what the medical staff was saying. My parents were working and were not able to go with my grandmother to her appointments. I knew that she and my parents needed my help, so I was happy to be there for them. I helped to translate and explain diagnoses and treatment options to her and to my parents. At that time, there were few medical teams or clinic staff members who spoke Spanish. As I got older, my cousins rotated into the role of translators for our grandmother. Thinking back, I realize that was a lot for my parents and my grandmother to entrust me and my young cousins to translate important health information,” Aileen explained.

A major proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, Aileen shared these insights and perspectives: “Our culture can motivate us and drive us to achieve our goals and dreams. I believe those of us who are of Hispanic and Latinx heritage have an opportunity to make a positive difference in encouraging people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures to explore healthcare careers and to leverage their language skills to benefit others. Collectively, we can bridge gaps in healthcare and move effectively forward in addressing healthcare disparities. I do not see this situation as a negative one, but as a positive opportunity.”

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Physical Therapy Workforce Analysis, A Report From the American Physical Therapy Association, published December 2020, only 3.5 percent of APTA members who are licensed physical therapists and 5.3 percent of all licensed physical therapists in the U.S. are Hispanic or Latinx. Only 8 percent of APTA members who are licensed physical therapist assistants and 11.8 percent of all licensed U.S. physical therapist assistants are Hispanic or Latinx. “I went to college straight out of high school. I got a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from University of Albany, State University of New York (SUNY), in 1993. I originally considered going to medical school, but I decided instead to stay in the physical therapy field. I earned a Master of Physical Therapy degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1997. In 2018, I decided to pursue a doctoral degree. I will complete my Doctor of Education and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. After that, I will consider what is next. I love learning and growing,” Aileen added.
 

Giving Back

Aileen enjoys serving on the committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Colorado Chapter of APTA. She also served for many years as a Concorde Aurora campus representative with the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

An enthusiastic 20-year volunteer who has completed more than 30 Operation Walk Denver medical missions, Aileen traveled in June 2023 to Mexico to support a medical team that provided full hip and knee replacement surgeries. Operation Walk Denver is a not-for-profit volunteer medical services organization that provides free surgical treatments for patients in developing countries and in the United States. This organization also provides relief for patients who do not have access to medical care and who suffer with debilitating bone and joint conditions such as arthritis. Educating local orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals on the most advanced treatment of hip and knee joint diseases are additional priorities for Operation Walk Denver.

Speaking in Spanish, Aileen works directly with in-country patients and medical staff to explain procedures, treatments, exercises, and post-surgery care for these trips. “I work side by side with the volunteer Operation Walk Denver surgeons to translate from English to Spanish. I also create videos in Spanish that demonstrate post-surgery exercise protocols for patients in Spanish. Many people learn better visually,” Aileen added.

Aileen traveled to Honduras for another Operation Walk Denver medical mission October 17-21 and is planning to volunteer again for a mission trip to Panama some time in Spring 2024. She also volunteers as Operation Walk Denver’s lead physical therapist and as a member of the gala committee.
 

Advice to Concorde Students

Aileen offered this advice:

“Students of all ages have an opportunity to impact thousands of individuals, families, groups, and entire communities directly and indirectly. Current and prospective Concorde students who might be doubting themselves or who might be concerned about the small percentages of Hispanic and Latinx healthcare professionals in the U.S. can contribute to changing the narrative, removing barriers in a meaningful way, and creating pathways for future generations. As Hispanics, we are geared to be caring and compassionate toward others. Think about the big picture. We can be change agents. Each Concorde student and each Concorde graduate can create rewarding experiences and successful outcomes for patients, clients, co-workers, and everyone whose life will be touched by their generous gifts of time and talent.”
 

 

Next Steps?

Interested in learning more about our Physical Therapist Assistant program? We have a Concorde representative ready to talk about what matters most to you. Get answers about start dates, curriculum, financial aid, scholarships and more!

  1. Program length may be subject to change dependent on transfer credits and course load. Please refer to current course catalog for more information. Concorde does not guarantee admittance, graduation, subsequent employment or salary amount.

  2. Professional certification is not a requirement for graduation, may not be a requirement for employment nor does it guarantee employment.

  3. Financial aid is available to those who qualify but may not be available for all programs. Concorde does not guarantee financial aid or scholarship awards or amounts.

  4. Clinical hour requirements and delivery may vary by campus location and may be subject to change. Concorde does not guarantee clinical site assignments based upon student preference or geographic convenience; nor do clinical experiences guarantee graduation, post-clinical employment or salary outcomes.

  5. Registration and certification requirements for taking and passing these examinations are not controlled by Concorde, but by outside agencies, and are subject to change by the agency without notice. Therefore, Concorde cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take these exams, at all or at any specific time, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.