Physical Therapy

Become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists treat patients with an array of conditions across their lifespan. PT can be performed in various settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and home healthcare services.Physical Therapist

Physical therapists help individuals with physical impairments, including limited motion and mobility. PT treatments can improve the condition of the body and reduce pain and are often used as an alternative to surgery and prescription medications. Visit to learn more.

The physical therapy profession teaches students to assess and treat the movement and mobility problems of their patients. A physical therapist may prescribe exercise, recommend medications and equipment, or recommend surgery to help their patients recover from an injury or illness. The field is growing, thanks to the aging Baby Boomer generation and advances in medical technology that enable a greater percentage of accident victims, stroke sufferers, birth defects survivors, and those with sports-related injuries to live longer and enjoy more active lifestyles.

As a result, many physical therapy programs are experiencing increased enrollments and are facing limited resources. A new education model is being developed to meet the needs of a future population of physical therapists. The partnership worked with stakeholder input from national presentations, strategy meetings, a survey of the entire membership, and the work of two APTA task forces (Equality in Clinical Education and Excellence in Research).

A vision statement was drafted along with six pillars that represent strategic areas to address. The statement reflects the importance of creating an environment of excellence to ensure the PT profession can meet societal health needs and optimize patient/client outcomes.

Several pillars call for continuing advocacy for accessibility of education, sustainable reimbursement and appropriate compensation levels to attract and retain clinicians. Others focus on career pathways and student resources; a commitment to diversity and inclusion; and the need to foster opportunities for educational researchers to share information.

Another pillar calls for academic-practice partnerships that foster excellence. This includes ensuring that academic programs and their clinical partners collaborate to develop a shared vision for delivering patient-centered care in the context of practice. It also includes creating opportunities for faculty development, early authentic clinical experiences, and a collaborative culture of teaching and learning that supports the pedagogy of learning through practice.

As part of their curriculum, most physical therapist students spend time in community clinics under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. At the University of the Incarnate Word, for example, students participate in a community clinic for six consecutive semesters during their first year of study. In addition, they spend time in the classroom taking courses that cover topics such as anatomy, human movement science, biomechanics, disease process, and basic medical sciences.

Physical Therapy Careers

The physical therapy industry offers a promising career path, allowing professionals to find work in a variety of healthcare settings and patient demographics. From home health services to nursing and residential care facilities, the opportunities are endless for those who wish to explore different specialties or further their career.

A physical therapist is a healthcare professional that works with patients to help them move, improve their mobility, reduce pain and suffering, lower medical bills by reducing the need for surgeries or prescription drugs, and promote overall wellness. They are an essential part of the healthcare team, and their work can be highly rewarding.

Many physical therapists choose to pursue their careers because of their personal experience in the field, a love of helping people feel better, or a desire to make a difference in other’s lives. Whatever the reason may be, those who work in the field are rewarded with a career that offers many options for advancement and high job satisfaction rates.

The career path for a physical therapist starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in a field like exercise science or psychology. Then, students must enroll in a doctor of physical therapy program that lasts about three years and includes classroom learning and extensive clinical experiences. Those who are looking to specialize in a particular area can also participate in a clinical residency or fellowship after graduation, which will provide them with more hands-on training and experience.

Physical therapists can work in many settings, including private practices, hospitals, outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centers. Regardless of the environment, they will have the same responsibilities: diagnosing patients’ physical impairments, creating treatment plans, treating patients and educating them on how to manage their symptoms at home. Some PTs also choose to focus on home healthcare and travel to visit patients in their homes to ensure that they receive the care that they need.

As an allied healthcare professional, physical therapists are required to be licensed by their state’s board of therapy. The licensing process requires passing the national physical therapy exam and meeting any state-specific requirements.

Physical Therapy Specialties

After graduating from a physical therapy program, licensed physical therapists have the opportunity to focus their skills and expertise in one of nine areas that are recognized as specialty fields. These specialty fields allow physical therapists to focus their knowledge and experience on specific types of patients or conditions. These specialties also help to provide more in-depth training for the therapist.

Orthopedic musculoskeletal physical therapy focuses on rehabilitating injuries to bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. This includes treating sports injuries, such as knee or hip replacements and dislocations, as well as other types of trauma to the body’s skeletal structure. Orthopedic PT specialists may use a variety of techniques, including joint mobilization, traction and exercise to improve pain and mobility.

Cardiovascular/pulmonary physical therapy focuses on the heart and respiratory systems of the body. These therapists help treat patients who suffer from cardiac conditions, such as heart attacks or heart disease, and those with lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Physical therapists who specialize in cardiovascular/pulmonary physical therapy also use various techniques, such as breathing exercises and joint mobilization.

Amputee rehabilitation

Many people who have undergone an amputation are often referred to as amputees. A physical therapist who specializes in this field is trained to work with amputees and helps them learn how to adapt to their new lifestyle. This includes teaching them how to walk again, how to use their prosthetic limbs and how to deal with the psychological effects of having an amputation.

Pediatric physical therapy

Working with children is an important career path for some licensed physical therapists. This specialty allows them to help babies and children through a range of issues, from trauma to chronic diseases like asthma. These therapists must have patience, as they often work with kids who are not always eager to participate in their treatment sessions.

Women’s health

A specialized field for licensed physical therapists, women’s health encompasses both specific conditions women face, such as pelvic pain and osteoporosis, as well as understanding how common musculoskeletal disorders affect different types of females at various stages in life. This specialty also includes working with pre- and postnatal women.

Physical Therapy Jobs

Physical therapists help patients of all ages improve movement and manage pain. In their day-to-day work, they may do everything from helping someone regain leg function after a fall to making a plan for someone with cerebral palsy to manage movement at home.

While the work of a physical therapist is highly fulfilling, it can be challenging, too. A major part of the job is documenting and maintaining records, which can be time consuming and stressful. As a result, burnout is common in the field, particularly in hospitals.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent burnout. One is to specialize, which allows therapists to focus on a particular population or setting. For example, a physical therapist who wants to work with athletes could choose to specialize in sports medicine. Another way to prevent burnout is to work with a physical therapy staffing agency, which can provide a steady flow of assignments to keep PTs busy.

In addition to preventing burnout, these agencies also make it easier for PTs to have a great work-life balance. Traveling PTs often work with these companies, as they need to be licensed in multiple states to practice, and it’s difficult to maintain licensure while moving from place to place.

Another perk of working for a physical therapy staffing agency is that it makes it easy to take time off for family events and personal matters, such as weddings and baby showers. This is an important aspect of work-life balance, as it can be hard to juggle a demanding career and a family life, especially in the medical field.

Physical therapists are vital members of the healthcare team, and their role is crucial to helping people regain mobility and manage pain. To ensure that patients receive the best care, PTs must be highly knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and have excellent communication skills. They must also continually advance their education by attending continuing professional development courses and attending workshops. In addition, they must follow hospital and departmental policies and procedures, quality improvement programs, safety, environmental, and infection control standards.