A physical therapist is one who obtains a license to work with patients who have limited physical disabilities and impairments. The incidents are usually the result of pathological processes, injuries, and diseases. Physical therapy involves examining, evaluating, diagnosing, developing treatment programs, and providing a prognosis for each individual patient. Physical therapists can work to restore overall function, mobility, and pain management through the use of specialized exercises, manipulation, hot and cold stimulation, and electrical stimulation. Here's how to get started:
The characteristics of a physical therapist include extreme patience, as progress can be very slow and tedious. Patients can be very angry after traumatic incidents and can be difficult to deal with. Therapists must also possess good interpersonal skills, as they need to be able to motivate patients who have become depressed as a result of their condition. Lastly, a good physical therapist must have physical stamina, as a majority of the day is spent providing hands-on care, demonstrating exercises, crouching, bending and standing.
The education required in physical therapy involves obtaining a Bachelor's Degree. Afterwards, a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy is required, and a doctorate is possible. After completion of the required education, graduates must pass state and national exams, then become licensed. Some professionals will go on to specialize in certain areas of therapy. Specialties include pediatric, orthopedic, neurologic, geriatric, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy. Before getting a job, however, most programs require either volunteer or work experience within a physical therapy department.
According to the APTA Background Sheet from 2009, "More than 172,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today." The average salary is around $75,000, depending on the practice setting, geographical location, degree of education and years of experience. Most find work in outpatient clinics or offices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, industrial workplaces, education and research centers, private homes, extended care facilities, schools, hospices, and sports training facilities. The job outlook is positive and plentiful for these types of workers, as there is only a 2% unemployment rate.
Physical therapists must be very dedicated to the profession, as there is over seven years of education required for the job, but the work in and of itself can be very rewarding. In order for therapists to maintain their license, they are expected to participate in continuing education workshops and courses. So, for this reason, you know you are in good hands with physical therapists. And therapists know they will always have job security if they remain in this field.