Understanding if a PT Career is Right for You

Understanding if a PT Career is Right for You

by Tony Matoska PT, DPT, CMPTComments Off on Understanding if a PT Career is Right for You

There are many reasons to consider pursuing a career as a physical therapist. As our population ages, there’s a growing need for more physical therapists in the workforce. As every profession has pros and cons, I’m going to provide some things you should consider when contemplating a career as a physical therapist.

1. Physical Therapists require seven years of schooling

To become a physical therapist, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree usually in the health sciences field. Once you complete your 4-year degree, you will need to attend a graduate school to earn your Doctorate of Physical Therapy. This graduate program lasts three years and consists of classes and clinical rotations. Physical therapy programs are highly competitive and challenging to get into. Maintaining a high college GPA, having a diverse set of shadowing hours, strong Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and letters of recommendation is highly recommended to improve your odds of acceptance.

2. You can work and specialize in many different areas of physical therapy

Our Physical Therapists at Athletico specialize in outpatient orthopedics, but this area of PT is only for some. Fortunately, the PT field has a wide variety of settings you can work in and specialties to pursue. You can work in hospitals on acute care floors or in inpatient care. You can also work in schools and nursing homes treating kids, teens, or the elderly. You may even have a job where you travel to people’s homes or jobs to assess and treat them there. You can pursue numerous specialties, including pediatrics, neurologic, cardiopulmonary, men’s/women’s health, sports, geriatrics, oncology, and wound management. At Athletico, many of our therapists also specialize in some areas and treat these types of patients while working in an outpatient orthopedic setting.

3. Physical therapists are not massage therapists or personal trainers

As a PT for nearly eight years, this is a common misconception I’ve heard numerous times. Soft tissue mobilization, which is often viewed as massage by patients, and exercise prescription are both things that physical therapists can do, but they are far from the other things we offer. Physical therapists are movement experts and are tasked with assessing the quality of movement, identifying impairments, communicating effectively with patients and other healthcare providers, and treating the identified impairments to progress patients toward meeting long-term goals and restoration of function.

4. Learning never stops

One of my mentors told me when I first got accepted into PT schools, “School prepares you for the board exam. Working prepares you to be a physical therapist.” Just because you graduated with your DPT doesn’t mean you know everything about the profession. It’s very important for young clinicians to recognize this and continuously improve their skill set to offer the best possible care for their patients. New research is always being published and it’s important to stay up-to-date with evidence-based practice. Mentorship is also extremely important. I was very fortunate to be teamed with strong mentors with years of clinical expertise to help guide my early development in the PT field. There are worthwhile opportunities to pursue in residency or fellowship in your specialty area that will provide you with high-level mentorship, research opportunities, and continuing education to make you an expert in your field.

These are only a few things worth considering when considering physical therapy as a possible career path. One of the best ways to learn more about the profession is to shadow a therapist in the setting you’re interested in and work as a rehabilitation aide to gain more experience.

Athletico Careers

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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