PRN – pro re nata – medical jargon for as needed or on call. Medications especially are placed on PRN order, meaning they are given as the need arises. Perhaps a patient’s temperature has spiked, paracetamol is given on an as needed basis making sure they are within daily limits. Pain medications too, especially for patients in chronic pain, have orders for painkillers on an as needed basis, again provided they are within limits. Personnel too, especially specialists can be on an as needed basis, or more commonly known as on call. These specialists have to be available 24/7 and are paged or called when needed. Trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, and OB/GYNs tend to be the ones on call most often.
But did you know even physical therapists can be on call. Many physical therapists that specialize in a particular field such as orthopedics or neurology tend to be placed on call. This is how it happens. A patient with a torn knee ligament arrives in the hospital emergency room. Nurses stabilize his knee and surgeons repair the torn ligament. As this patient’s knee heals, he will not need rehabilitation in no time at all. This is where the on call physical therapist comes in. An orthopedic physical therapist may be called for consult on the condition. He may recommend a rehabilitation regimen for the next few weeks; perhaps, simple knee bending for the first two weeks, walking with assistance for the next three, and walking without assistance for the last three.
On call physical therapists are slowly gaining demand as they are experts in what they do and even doctors need to consult with their expertise. Healthcare after all is a team effort. Doctors provide the treatment and medications, nurses care for the patient during their hospital stay, and therapists ease the patient back into normal life helping them learn essential skills all over again.
On call physical therapists have an average salary of $76,310 annually or $36.69 hourly. Typically, they are employed by an agency or the hospital either as a back up or as a specialist. When staffing falls to a bare minimum, on call physical therapists are brought in to fill that void. When a consult is needed for rehabilitation, on call physical therapists are paged to help out the health care team. If you need that spare time, but still want the stability of tenure, you might want to consider becoming just that, an on call physical therapist.