Physical Therapist – A Rewarding Career That Pays Well and Has a Solid Outlook
Physical therapy is one of the most popular careers in healthcare. The job pays well and has a solid career outlook.
Physical Therapist Montgomery County can help patients recover from injuries and manage long-term disabilities. Treatment sessions usually involve exercises to improve mobility, coordination, and strength.
Some PTs complete a one-year post-graduate residency or fellowship program to specialize in a particular type of physical therapy. Other PTs work in different workplace settings, which can change their daily responsibilities.
Movement is an essential part of life, but when it’s hindered by illness or injury, physical therapists help patients get back on their feet. This rewarding career requires a minimum of 4 to 6 years at a reputable physical therapy school and mastery of a variety of skills, as well as both national and state licensure.
Most physical therapist schools offer doctorate programs. Incoming students need at least a bachelor’s degree and a competitive GPA to gain admission. Coursework in these programs focuses on the human body, including anatomy, biomechanics, and neuroscience. Students learn to use a wide range of therapeutic techniques, such as massage, exercise, and traction, to treat the musculoskeletal system.
Physical therapists must also be familiar with medical terminology and have strong interpersonal communication skills. They must be able to listen to patients’ needs, evaluate their progress, and motivate them to perform exercises that are sometimes difficult or painful. Physical stamina is also important, as the job often involves standing for extended periods.
After graduating from a program, all physical therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). Many graduate programs require students to participate in clinical rotations during their final year, which gives them hands-on experience. They must also pass a jurisprudence exam, which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and focuses on issues specific to the practice of physical therapy in each state.
In addition, some physical therapists choose to pursue board certification in an area of clinical expertise. These credentials, which can be earned through continuing education courses, are typically recognized by employers and may provide additional opportunities for employment. This is especially true for specialized physical therapists, such as those who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology or pediatrics. Major advances in medical technology and the aging of Baby Boomers have increased demand for these specialists. This is likely to continue as long as these patients have access to physical therapy services. As the need for PTs grows, so will the need to keep them current with new medical research and best practices.
Physiatrists, or physical therapists, help patients regain movement and improve their quality of life. They use various exercises to help a patient recover from injuries, such as broken bones and back problems. They may also teach patients to use assistive devices such as wheelchairs or bathroom safety tools. Depending on the type of injury or condition, a physical therapist can prescribe certain medications to treat symptoms.
A physical therapist job description requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree, plus clinical experience. Some programs require the student to complete a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). Most hospitals and private practices offer entry-level PT positions, while large health care companies often provide more advanced opportunities.
Physical stamina is a requirement for this position, as physical therapists are often on their feet for hours at a time. They must also have excellent hand dexterity to perform manual therapy and therapeutic exercises on patients. Interpersonal skills are important, as a physical therapist must be able to explain treatment programs to their patients and motivate them to succeed.
Some physical therapists focus on sports medicine, which involves treating injuries caused by playing sports. Others work with children or elderly patients. Still, others focus on specific conditions like osteoporosis or Parkinson’s disease. A physical therapist may also be required to do research to develop better treatments.
Other common responsibilities of a physical therapist include writing prescriptions, coordinating with other healthcare providers and monitoring patients’ progress. They may also be required to participate in community outreach programs and educate the public about health issues.
A physical therapist can work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation hospitals, home healthcare agencies and schools. Regardless of the setting, however, the day-to-day responsibilities of a physical therapist remain the same.
These responsibilities may include assessing a patient’s needs, developing a plan to treat those needs and implementing the plan. Typically, a physical therapist will meet with a patient regularly to assess the effectiveness of the program and make necessary adjustments. They will also document patient progress and maintain confidentiality at all times. In addition to preparing written documents, they will likely use computer programs for record-keeping purposes.
A physical therapist’s responsibilities vary by specialty, but the first step in becoming one is completing a bachelor’s degree program that includes coursework in areas such as anatomy, physiology, and exercise science. Then, a postgraduate professional degree such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) must be completed, and most programs require that applicants have completed some amount of volunteer or shadowing hours to learn more about the career.
Upon graduation from an accredited DPT program, a licensed physical therapist must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination or NPTE to obtain their license. Most states also require that licensed PTs meet additional requirements for practice, such as compliance training and background checks. Those who wish to specialize can complete a clinical residency to advance their skills and become board-certified in their desired field.
Some grad schools offer online programs that combine online instruction with on-campus coursework and clinical rotations. These programs may be suitable for those who are unable to relocate for their education, but they typically take longer than the traditional graduate degree programs and do not provide as much hands-on experience.
Another option is to attend a traditional program that offers in-person coursework and clinical rotations on weekdays. These programs are typically less expensive than the online versions, but they can still take up to three years to complete.
Regardless of where a student chooses to pursue their DPT, the curriculum will include coursework such as human health and wellness; biomechanics and movement science; ethics and professionalism; systems physiology; musculoskeletal assessment; growth process through the lifespan; and interventions in clinical practice. Most programs will also incorporate courses such as kinesiology, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy interventions, and clinical reasoning and decision making. In addition to these core classes, students will be required to complete a clinical practicum. Depending on the specialty area, this could include acute care, orthopedics, neurology, and more. If the patient’s condition requires it, some PTs will choose to further advance their skills by becoming board-certified in a specific field. This typically involves passing an exam and completing a year-long clinical residency program.
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including private offices and clinics, hospitals, patients’ homes, schools, sports teams, and as part of care in home health services. The profession has a high demand and a respectable salary level. The job is rewarding from a personal and professional perspective, but the career path isn’t without its challenges.
Whether you’re an experienced PT or just starting out, your salary can vary widely depending on your location and employer. To maximize your earning potential, it’s important to take into account the local cost of living as well as national average PT salaries.
You’ll also want to consider the type of clientele and environment you prefer working in. Working in a competitive healthcare industry will increase your competition for clients, and you’ll need to differentiate yourself from other PTs with similar skills. You can boost your earnings by establishing yourself as an expert in specific therapeutic methods and techniques.
Some PTs also choose to become entrepreneurs and establish their own private practices. While this can increase your earning potential, it’s often difficult to break even unless you’re able to build up a substantial client base.
As medical advancements continue to allow a higher percentage of trauma victims and premature babies to survive, physical therapy is in high demand across many types of workplaces. You’ll find that jobs in hospitals, health care practitioners’ offices, and home health care services are more plentiful than those in private practices, but you can still expect to face a fair amount of competition for employment.
The salary of a physical therapist is generally more competitive than the wages for related careers, but it depends on the type of career you pursue and your skill level. Achieving a master’s degree in physical therapy and becoming a licensed therapist can help you command more money.
You can also increase your earning potential by taking on more management responsibilities, such as overseeing more junior PTs. This can earn you a premium over your colleagues without requiring as much travel. Lastly, you can always consider moving to a different location that offers better pay for the same level of experience and clinical setting.