Life can change in a split second when an unanticipated injury or disease hinders someone’s normal daily life. Modern medicine, physicians and families can only do so much but physical therapy can help recoup the life many of us take for granted. It often isn’t until we lose something that we as humans realize what we had such as the value of our body’s ability to take us through each day. A physical therapist is the person who stays with a patient for the duration of the rehabilitation process. A physical therapist leads the patient through the process of regaining physical strength and helps the patient regain control of their future.
Much like many careers that involve interaction with individuals, physical therapy reaches beyond the workings of the human body and touches many people in more personal ways. In return, a physical therapist will reap many personal benefits from their work with others. There are many requirements to become a physical therapist; specialized schooling, training and certification are only a few. To become a successful physical therapist requires the proper education, a desire to help people, patience and understanding of individuals and empathy for others. The educational requirements for a physical therapist have evolved over the last decade.
With physical therapy becoming a more accepted and successful practice the educational training has become more stringent. A two year master’s degree is now required and each graduate must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. (“Physical Therapist”) The master’s program focuses on clinical work and practical use of course work. Physical therapists are required to be licensed in order to practice. Each state may have its own requirements in addition to the educational background. (Curtis 219) An undergraduate college student considering a career in physical therapy should enroll in science classes that will be helpful.
Psychology, biology, anatomy and others are all good prerequisites for a future in physical therapy. (“Physical Therapy Degrees”) It is important to have a thorough understanding of the human body and its intricacies in order to diagnose and treat physical ailments. Colleges with a medical department often have a master’s program for physical therapy. (“Physical Therapists”) Physical therapy students have a required amount of field work in order to complete a program. Each candidate must work in an accredited workplace for the field work assignments. This part of the program is
extremely valuable and helpful for a new therapist entering the field. Working one on one can be difficult even with all of the educational tools. (Curtis 37) Beyond the educational requirements for physical therapists are the many other attributes that are needed to be successful. A career as a physical therapist requires a lot of studied skills, personal characteristics and physical fitness. A physical therapist should enjoy working with people and helping others. An ability to listen to patients and understand is important to success. Patients are often a victim of a traumatic experience, injury or are afflicted by a debilitating disease.
The emotional distress can often be as trying as the physical dysfunction. (Kottler 11) Communicating and teaching skills are needed to help patients learn new movements and exercises to practice on their own. Physical therapists help patients set goals, regain and strengthen muscles and flexibility. Helping a patient find confidence in the program helps them to become successful. (Krumhansl 44) A physical therapist spends most of the day on their feet, standing and moving with their patients. They also spend many hours bending and stretching during the sessions.
A therapist will often model an exercise or stretch for a patient. These activities all require the therapist to be physically fit and have good physical stamina. (“Physical Therapists”) A physical therapist’s work hours and conditions can vary to a large degree. Since it is generally a one on one session the job can be very flexible. A physical therapist may work for a large group and see many patients a day. Others may choose to work for a smaller practice and focus on only a few patients. The work place can be a private home, an office, a hospital or even a school.
The hours of work are typically set by the individual appointment times that are set up to accommodate the patients. Since many patients are working and have other obligations the therapy sessions can extend into the evening and weekends. This can be very beneficial to a therapist who is a parent or student or has other obligations of their own. A physical therapist can schedule their appointments to best fit their life also. (Krumhansl 39) The intrinsic benefits of this job are plentiful. The physical therapist is able to see and measure progress in patients in so many ways.
As patients regain control of their lives and feel happier and more successful the therapist can feel fulfilled. Giving and helping others is always a great way to feel complete and proud and a physical therapist often experiences this through work. The monetary benefits are also of great value. Physical therapist salaries are on the rise and can be very large depending on the type of therapy and hours of work. (Curtis 11) A physical therapist annual salary typically starts in the $30,000 range and can increase to as much as $100,000 a year. A physical therapist can go into private practice and recruit new therapist to work under them.
The business aspect of physical therapy can prove to make a lot of money but often changes the face of the job for the physical therapist. (Krumhansl 59) Physical therapy is a growing and changing field. The opportunities for specialty certification are increasing. (“Physical Therapy Degrees”) The need for physical therapists in general is increasing as well and so the opportunities are endless. A physical therapist is able to concentrate on a specific type of injury or need and become more efficient and knowledgeable on certain things. Sports therapy is a very big area of physical therapy which focuses on sport related injuries or surgeries.
Athletes often put a lot of stress on their bodies and require surgery; these patients seek physical therapy in order to return to their regular activates or jobs. Visiting a therapist regularly is vital to a full recovery. Stroke victims are another area of specific need and attention for physical therapist. There are many surgeons and doctors including physical therapy as a part of a patients regime. These referrals and recommendations are helping to recognize areas of specialty for physical therapy. (Krumhansl 91) Therapists are required to keep up with and renew their credentials and education periodically.
The changes and new technology coming will continue to open up opportunities for physical therapist to do their job well and fully. (Krumhansl 24) The need for physical therapists is on the rise and is expected to continue. With an aging population and obesity on the rise the sub groups of patients will continue to grow and therapists will be one of the important careers in helping these groups find a way to a healthier body. Although the upcoming changes in our health care system will no doubt effect the changes in the future, physical therapy will continue to be an answer for many struggling patients.
To become a successful physical therapist, the proper education, desire to help people, patience and understanding of individuals and empathy for others are all important components. Physical therapists must see themselves through the required education, have a strong desire to help others, and have compassion for those in need of help. Not all people are cut out to become a physical therapist. However, those who do will find the benefits of the job bountiful and endless.