Should I Choose a Career as a Physical Therapist

October 31st, 2017

As you journey on the path towards a physical therapist career, there are important things to consider when on the job hunt and when you accept your first physical therapy job. What does the day-to-day work entail? What is the business culture of physical therapy? How important is customer service and finding mentors in the profession? As you embark on your first job in physical therapy, you’ll quickly find yourself learning new things that were not taught in PT school.

Below are three things to keep in mind in order to have the most success as a physical therapist.

1. Typical Job Duties

Although specific job duties will vary depending on where you work (private clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, etc.) below are some of the typical job duties to expect as a physical therapist:

  • Examine patients (performing tests/measures, documenting patient history)
  • Develop a treatment plan
  • Teach patients different exercises and how to properly use exercise techniques
  • Massage and apply physical therapy treatments

Also as a physical therapist, you’ll need to stay up-to-date with federal, state and local legal and professional requirements as well as participate in continuing education programs and trainings to help maintain your license.

2. Customer Service

Because of your one-on-one interaction with patients, it’s vital that you pick up and/or develop customer services skills. You need to develop relationships with your patients and understand their needs and goals they want to set with physical therapy.

Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L explains, “Being a physical therapist isn’t only about treating a patient’s lower back pain or arthritis. We’ve got to treat each and every patient as a whole human being—not a condition. Helping patients recover involves more than achieving a desired outcome; studies show that patient satisfaction–which often hinges on things like great first impressions, short wait times, and consistent therapist-patient communication–is a key component of treatment and directly correlates to patient outcomes.” So, brush up on your customer service and don’t be afraid to be personable to your patients.

3. Promote Your Profession

Lastly, as a physical therapist, it’s important that you are actively promoting the profession. Where can you start? Get involved in physical therapy associations, such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) or state and local physical therapy associations.

Also, don’t be afraid to network. Seek out mentors both in and outside of work in order to learn more about the physical therapy industry and how to better promote it. Physical therapy is a great tool in the healthcare profession and because it can often be misunderstood, advocacy is important both in school and within your job.

Remember to keep these three points in mind as you make your way into the physical therapy industry.

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