Have you thought about becoming a physiotherapist? Physiotherapists play an important role as medical professionals who help patients manage immobilities and recover from injuries whether they be from accidents, illness or surgeries. Physiotherapists improve a patients quality of life and as such can be not only a personally rewarding career but also pays well. This professional is in great demand and is expected to increase by thirty-nine percent between 2010 and 2020. Becoming a physiotherapist is not easy as it takes many years of schooling and extreme patience. The coursework will teach you the following:
• Observe patients move and listen to their concerns and complaints
• Diagnose patients based on your observations
• Develop individualized therapies
• Understanding patients goals in their lives
• Attend to hands-on therapies (i.e. exercises)
• Ease pain and thereby improve mobility
• Monitor patient progress and modify therapy when needed
• Inform patients (and family) on what they should expect in terms of recovery
• Provide emotional support to enhance recovery
You’ll need a high school diploma or GED. You’ll need to have passed a college entrance exam (SAT/ACT). Apply to a university to obtain an undergrad degree in science and math courses. You’ll need to take biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, psychology, exercise science and much more. Check with the graduate school you plan to attend to find out what prerequisites you’ll need. In order to be excepted into a physiotherapist program, you’ll need a 3.5 or higher grade point average (GPA) from your undergrad work. If this is a bit too much for you, you might want to consider becoming a physical therapists’ assistant. This requires an associates degree.
Once you get your bachelor’s degree you can apply to physiotherapy school. You’ll need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or an MCAT. You’ll need a letter of intent and letters of recommendation from previous employers and/or professors. You will probably have to go through an interview. To increase your chances of acceptance into grad school, try to secure employment in a physical therapy setting or at the very least volunteer your time in one.
Some graduate physical therapy programs offer a master’s degree and others offer a doctorate degree. You’ll need to determine how much effort, time and money you want to sink into your career.
At the graduate level, you’ll be taking courses like anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and neuroscience. This means you need to be strong in physics, math, biology and chemistry from your undergrad program. You’ll need to do clinical rotations to get hands-on experience in your graduate program.
Once you complete your graduate physical therapy program, you’ll need to get a license so that you practice physical therapy. License requirements vary from state to state so check with your program director to find out what is needed. Most states require that you pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
You might want to think about going into a clinical residency program after you graduate your physical therapy program. This gives you more training and a better outlook on employment. If you can’t do that now, you might consider doing it later.
Nevertheless, at this point you’ll need to find employment. You have a wide range of venues to choose from including fitness centers, schools, clinics, hospitals, outpatient facilities or even setting up your own business. Job opportunities are available on the computer by simply doing a job search. Make sure to fill out as many applications as you can along with your resume and other pertinent information the employer requires.
You might also consider becoming board certified after you have worked in the field for a while. Certifications allow for specialization in your field such as neurology, orthopedics, electrophysiology or perhaps cardiovascular and pulmonary therapy to name a few. Your institution or current employer can help you with that.