Physical therapy brings many individual components together into one career, and the responsibilities and daily activities that you’ll be taking on represent a broad range, from the administrative and interpersonal, to the clinical, from diagnosing to treatment, and more. Besides daily responsibilities, it’s also important to learn more about physical therapist work, like what the requirements for education and licensure are, and how you can get started in the field.
Knowing how to begin your career as a physical therapist is the logical place to begin. All physical therapists need to be licensed after completing an examination called the National Physical Therapist Examination. You will only be eligible to take this test after graduating from a Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited masters or doctorate level program. There are over 200 programs offering these degrees in the United States, and masters programs will take about two years while doctorate programs will last three years.
Once you’re licensed and can begin your career in full, you’ll find that physical therapy can be broken down into several different many categories of work. You will have your initial testing, evaluation and examinations of patients. Then you will need to diagnosis your patients, and then you will need to develop treatment plans for them, either on an immediate or long term and ongoing basis, depending on your specific job and the individual needs of the patient. Performing the actual physical therapy program, exercises and treatment options and continuing reexamination are of course main components to the work of physical therapists. Explaining and educating patients and their families is also important to success.
Of course, taking a look at the work of physical therapists and what it involves also means taking a look at other issues such as the logistics, environment and settings, hours and even physical demands of the job. Physical therapists can work in many different settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, long term and nursing care facilities, private practices, schools, hospices, wellness centers, government or corporate settings, and on down the line. Much of what your work entails, your daily responsibilities, the environment you’re in and so forth will depend greatly on which of these settings you seek out or end up with.
Physical therapists generally work a full 40 hour work week, although about a quarter of physical therapists work part-time. Private practices will maintain normal 9 to 5 or thereabout hours, but physical therapists in acute care or recovery settings may have to be on call on evenings or work on the weekend. Physical therapy can also be demanding on you physically, since you’ll often be using your own body to assist in the evaluation, examination and treatment of your patients.
Hopefully you now have a better sense of what physical therapist work is all about. Once licensed, you will be examining, diagnosing and treating patients, and your daily routine will vary greatly depending on which setting you’re working in. It’s a very rewarding career that allows you to directly improve the livelihood of patients each and every day, and for this reason and more, more prospective students are beginning their journey towards becoming a physical therapist each and every year.