Physical Therapist Career

Are you thinking of pursuing a physical therapist career? Before you do, make sure you know everything there is to know about the physical therapy industry. After all, becoming a physical therapist is not as easy as it seems.

Physical therapists: What do they do?

A physical therapist, or a PT, is a health professional who is responsible in assisting patients during their treatment’s rehabilitative phase. PTs usually help patients who have just recovered from surgery or patients who have been injured and left incapacitated because of an accident or an illness. Physical therapy has numerous career paths an aspirant can take. Medical office and the clinical or hospital set-up are the most common career paths taken by most PTs. But PTs can also work in outpatient departments, specialty clinics, nursing homes, and even work abroad.

The advantages of being a physical therapist

The most appealing advantage of being a PT right now is the salary. In the United States, the salary of a physical therapist may range from $50,000 to $70,000. Salaries may vary depending on certain factors like educational attainment, trainings, certifications, workload, type of company, etc. but they are undoubtedly competitive. Salaries may even go higher if the PT operates his own clinic or teaches at a university aside from his regular job.

Another advantage to being a PT is the numerous job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a steadily increase of the demand for physical therapists. From 2008 to 2010 alone, there has been a 30% increase in the demand for physical therapists not just in the U.S. but around the globe. And they expect this demand to double in the next decade. Because of this strong employment demand at present, PTs will have no problem looking for a satisfying job. They can work in a variety of settings like hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, etc. Aside from the salary and the job opportunities, PTs also enjoy benefits like social security, healthcare assistance, paid leaves, etc.

What Physical Therapist Benefits Are Available?

Most Physical therapist jobs will come with an attractive benefits package which can help make the job more worthwhile and less stressful as your employer will ensure you get a good work/life balance . Examples of these benefits may include the following:

  • Transitional DPT assistance
  • Funding for ongoing training
  • Manual Therapy Certification assistance
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • 401k
  • Paid Time Off plan
  • Work/life balance- most clinics are open M-F 8-5
  • Manageable caseload of approx. 11-13 pts/day.

Becoming a physical therapist: What are the requirements?

Since physical therapy is a healthcare profession, it requires the right kind of education. A bachelor’s of science in physical therapy was the previous minimum educational requirement. However, because physical therapists have become very significant players in the healthcare industry, you now need a master’s or doctorate degree to be able to work in this profession. So what advanced physical therapy courses should students choose? That depends on the undergraduate degree they have already finished.

Direct master’s degree versus transitional master’s degree

A direct master’s degree in physical therapy should be chosen by students who have completed a science or healthcare related degree (but not PT) and would like to pursue physical therapy studies. The course lasts for two years. The first year is allotted for learning important concepts and the second year is allotted for field work and application of PT concepts in a clinical setting. A transitional master’s degree, on the other hand, is a more advanced course. This is taken by students who already have a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. This course is structured to further improve students’ knowledge and skills in using PT to improve patients’ health outcomes.

Doctorate degree

To be able to purse a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) a student must have first completed a science-related undergraduate degree and a master’s degree (preferably major in PT). DPT is usually earned in three years. Aside from learning advanced concepts, skills, and field work, the student is also required to finish a dissertation or thesis.

Getting admitted into a physical therapy school

Physical therapy can be a fun and rewarding career. There are many different roles available.

There are many schools offering physical therapist degrees. Consult with your guidance councilor for a complete list or browse through the internet. Take the time to research the schools you want to apply to. The first thing you have to make sure is that the schools you are considering are accredited in your state or country.

The application and admitting process vary from school to school. PT programs are very competitive. Most schools require average to above average grades and your marks in science subjects are considered heavily. Sometimes the required marks to be admitted in a physical therapy programs is higher than the required marks for medical school. Be sure to check out the list of requirements you have to accomplish and ensure that you follow the application process by the rule.

Physical therapy specialty training programs

For students who want to further improve their knowledge and skills in patient handling and patient care after getting their degrees, there are five specialty physical therapist training programs they can take:

PT training in geriatrics

The physical therapy training in geriatrics aims improve the PT’s knowledge and skills in handling issues concerning elderly patients such as mobility difficulties, fitness problems, constipation, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

PT training in pediatrics

This program is primarily concerned in developing the way PTs respond to common musculo-skeletal disorders, diseases, and injuries experienced by infant, toddler and adolescent patients.

PT training in orthopedics

This program focuses on improving the method PTs assess, test, diagnose, and treat common muscular and skeletal problems experienced by all age groups.

PT training in neurology

The program teaches PTs to use the concepts of physical therapy in handling patients with psychological difficulties like dementia, Alzheimer’s schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

PT training in cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation

The program develops the PT’s skills in post-surgery care particularly after cardiac and pulmonary-related surgeries. The training also aims to improve the PT’s skill in developing programs that help improve a patient’s functional independence after surgery.

Things to expect when you become a physical therapist

Being a PT is a very demanding type of job. Workload can be moderate to heavy depending on the type of patients you admit. But you will definitely be moving incessantly with this kind of job. You will be assisting patients with their daily activities, lifting and carrying them if they have mobility problems, operate various apparatuses and equipments, planning and executing a plan of care, and so much more. This profession is not easy, but the rewards are numerous for those who are willing to work hard for it.

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