Tim Ames served his country and continues to help others as a physical therapy assistant
Tim Ames joined the U.S. Army in 1990 right after graduating from Baltimore City College High. Since then, he’s built his life’s work on helping others.
For 12 years, Ames worked as a pharmacy specialist before becoming a medic, and he served in both Iraq wars and the war in Afghanistan. In fact, on day one of his basic training the first missile was fired in the conflict that eventually unseated dictator Saddam Hussein.
While overseas, Ames served in field hospital units, making sure wounded soldiers were stable before shipping them to longer-term care in Germany or at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland.
He stayed busy while deployed stateside as well, taking classes at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) and UMBC before graduating from the physical therapy assistant program at BCCC in 1998.
Ames retired from the Army in 2014 as a master sergeant.
He immediately began looking for undergraduate programs and heard about the allied health bachelor’s degree from a coworker at GBMC, a nurse who is a Towson University alumna. Ames enrolled in fall 2014 and had earned his bachelor’s by 2016.
“TU accepted the majority of my prior credits and also took my military service into account, so I earned my degree pretty quickly,” he says.
On the heels of his undergraduate degree, Ames decided to become a two-time Tiger, enrolling in the health science master’s degree program. He is pursuing a dual degree concentration in healthcare administration and community health and is on track to graduate this spring.
Currently, Ames works at GBMC Hospital as a physical therapy assistant for acute rehab. He sees patients recently out of surgery.
“We want to make sure that you can do the functional stuff: getting out of bed, up and down stairs and safely transfer without falling,” he notes.
His daily caseload is usually four to five patients working on their individual goals.
“Once the therapists do the initial evaluation, I just follow on the goals listed,” Ames says. “If the goal is the patient needs to walk 50 feet, we’re going to work up to being able to walk 50 feet, with whatever assistance that makes you safe to go home. Also, I talk to the nurses and doctors about patients’ medical stability and whether it’s safe for them to have therapy that day.”
He frequently becomes an integral part of patients’ emotional and physical recovery, and Ames gets just as attached to them. Ames listens to his patients’ life stories and tries to help them beyond the goals on their chart.
“I really appreciate how my classwork enables me to further help educate my patients and coworkers with topics like health insurance and post-discharge resource gathering,” Ames says.
He values his program for helping him understand parts of healthcare that he doesn’t touch daily: administration, how to find patient resources, differences in insurances and how to write a policy.
“The professors want to make sure you know what you’re doing when you leave the program. They are going to make sure that you have the foundations when you leave that you’re going to be correct on what you’re doing. You’re going to know how to find certain resources to complete your project,” Ames notes.
It should come as no surprise Ames’ future career goals are centered on others. After graduating with his master’s, he wants to get back into the veterans’ system and potentially become a professor at TU or another college in the area.
“I want to help other soldiers, especially with some of the resources the professors are telling us about through new Medicare and Medicaid programs, because a lot of times, if you didn’t fully retire or were reserves like I was, you have civilian insurance,” he says.
For now, though, Ames is content.
“I enjoy what I do. I really enjoy it,” Ames says. “My wife always says, ‘You probably would do the job for free.’ I would. With therapy, you just get somebody moving and just the excitement that you get when you say, ‘You’re going to do steps today. Let’s try one.’ One turns into two and then they do the whole flight. Just to see them smile.”