What is a Physical Therapist?
A physical therapist is a healthcare professional, who helps patients that have chronic conditions to be rehabilitated. They usually work with the injured body limbs or with clients suffering from various medical conditions and they are the ones who treat every pain a patient might suffer from on the surface of the body.
A physical therapist also has to deal with various patients and to find out their medical history, if they had any other injuries before. They will assess patient condition, and make everything they can to rehabilitate their physical conditions.
A physical therapist will give the patient a clear diagnostic, then they will make a treatment plan for each and every individual patient to follow, by using the process of therapy, which will increase their movement ability and it will develop, and later they will evaluate the progress of each and every case that they are dealing with.
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Job Description of a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are the professional specialized to help people who need help and people who face various medical conditions such as fractures, back injuries, amputations, arthritis and many others. Patients of different ages apply to a physical therapist in order to live a healthy life with no pain and with a better physical movement of their bodies.
Their main duties in a day involve helping patients to overcome the boundaries of their bodies and to overcome the pain they are dealing with. They are specialized professionals that will offer help to patients who need to recover also from surgeries, or any other type of illnesses that they suffered and how to manage all kind of immobility that they are facing. Physical therapy is a very great career opportunity to follow, but there are many responsibilities and you’ll have to follow some steps that will lead you to become a great specialist of treating and diagnosing people and making their life better and that will reduce the stress and the emotional deficit.
You also have to gain some medical knowledge and understanding how the human body functions as well as you’ll have to be a very good listener when it comes to each case. Since you are working with people, your communication skill also has to be improved and you’ll need to explain the treatment plan and the applied procedures.
Among other duties, their role is not to let the patient fall back into any kind of disability, they can intervene and modify plans when needed in order to achieve the best result in a patient’s life and they will instruct specifically the clients on how to deal and cope with the treatment plan.
How to Become a Physical Therapist
A career in the field of physical therapy is a very rewarding option for a better lifestyle, but like any other job, it reaches out through the level of knowledge achieved. The level of knowledge starts from high school and continues to advance in a community training program and so on.
Before you start to follow a path in this direction, make sure that this is what you want for your future. It is wise to have a clear opinion on what this career require for a physical therapist to perform. You’ll have to gain a licensure in order to have the right to practice, but the main tasks that you’ll have to perform begin in the field of physical therapy, where you’ll have establish a diagnose on the patients dysfunctional body movements by seeing how they move and by listening to their concerns and their suffering.
Then, on the choice of this career, a physical therapist also has to conceive a plan for each and every patient and to understand which their goals are and what do they hope to achieve through this treatment. To improve and make them regain their faith on their body and the mobility of their limbs, they will use some of the exercises and various stretching techniques, not to mention the hand therapy that will make them feel with less pain.
Tell each of your patients, as well as their families, what they should expect when they will gain strength form recovering from any injury and make them overcome any difficulty by providing the necessary emotional support.
One of the required steps is to have a high school diploma and one of the levels of gaining a great career opportunity would be to earn a Bachelor’s degree from a university, where the course length is of four years and the main focus is on the science courses.
You don’t really need to apply and gain a Bachelor of Science, since many of the post-graduate programs are structured to have prerequisites which involve biology, physiology, chemistry and anatomy. If you are a student who wants to become a physical therapist, the best option is to talk to the school counsellor to see if you are on the right specialization or to discover if your studies will take you there.
Many of the undergraduate majors that are found in order to become a physical therapist include subjects like biology, exercise science as well as psychology. You can also take other classes (like Spanish) that really don’t have any connection with this field, but the ones that are required for this kind of job are a must do.
As an undergraduate, you really need to be well-prepared for the next level of educational training because the GPA average for those who were admitted to a physical therapy training programs was pretty high.
If you think of becoming a physical therapist assistant, then you can enroll to earn an associate’s degree. If this career as a physical therapist is your life dream and if you freshly graduated a high school, you can search for training programs that will allow you to enter with no other preparations.
Another step that will help you a lot in this career path is to earn a post-graduate professional degree that can be received through one of the training programs that will offer a Master’s degree that has the length of two to three years, while others will offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree that will last for three years.
The subjects treated in this training program include courses based on biomechanics, neuroscience, not to mention those reminded earlier like physiology and anatomy, which are very important. The process for applying to one of these programs is very competitive and the best advice is to gain some experience working in one of the volunteer institutions or organizations that deal with physical therapy.
But other requirements would be to provide a number of one and up to four letters of reference from your teachers or mentors that you’ve studied with. Develop a great relationship with them and this way you’ll have a great recommendation letter to provide. Also, check any details concerning the training programs in which you want to apply to assure yourself that you’ve entered the right one.
Even if there are various and different licensure requirements by state, many employers search to a future potential candidate trained to become a physical therapist to have gained one. Most states will require that the National Physical Therapy Examination or the NPTE to be taken.
By completing your training program to increase your chances of being hired and with a great salary, you should consider to enroll into a residency program that will give you a clear advantage and a huge amount of experience in this professional field. Or there is the option of clinical fellowship that will offer you the opportunity to gain clinical instructions, as well as didactic ones that will train you to understand subspecialty areas of the practical parts, as well as the chance to develop the necessary skills required for this job.
Work Environment and Schedule
A physical therapist can find work in various fields of expertize and many facilities such as clinics, hospitals, schools, fitness centers and many other areas in the public and private domain. But you can also work on your own by having your own practice facility or by being in partnership with somebody else.
One day of work in this field will require a physical therapist to work by standing up on his feet, as well of having a lot of energy to conduct the treatment procedures for many patients. Many of these professionals work on a full time schedule, while others only work part time.
A physical therapist who is working in a facility area will typically work a number of forty hours per week, but if you are a physical therapist who is working individually or in a partnership with some other people or institutions, you can work and plan your working hours as you like. You work less or you can work a lot and this depends on you.
Physical Therapist Salary
In many states in the US, besides the requirements needed to fulfill the license or any other certification, the salary for a physical therapist is based according to various factors. The influence of those factors can be seen in the average salary of each state and area.
For example, these factors can be related to the experience that one of these professionals has in the field of work or has gained across the years, not to mention the education that he completed, and the skills developed in the educational years and in the practical experience. The location is yet another factor that influences the job of a physical therapist, as well as the level of his salary.
The average salary of a physical therapist is estimated to be at about $86,525 per year, which is more than the national average for any citizen who is working. The level of the salaries will vary according to the experience in the field that was mentioned earlier, not to mention the fact that annual a physical therapist will gain a yearly amount of $60,645.
Other professionals in the same category and with more years of experience will have an annual salary reaching at about $120,050. This factor influences the salary, together with the one based on the location, where the rural and urban factors intervene as well as for each state and metropolitan area.
The states also play an important role when it comes to the physical therapist salary, which means that the highest paid salaries in this branch can be found in Nevada, Alaska, and New Jersey and so on. In Nevada, the average salary for a physical therapist reaches at $115,650 per year, while Alaska (another well paid state) has an average salary of $94,955 per year for these professionals.
One of the well paid care services in this branch of industry is the Home Health Care Services that offers to a physical therapist the opportunity to earn an annual salary that reaches to $95,460. Another well paid salary in the branch of industry can be found in the Management Scientific and Technical Consulting Services, where the average salary for a physical therapist is of $92,175 per year.
The best metropolitan area that pays a good salary for a physical therapist is situated in Las Vegas, where the annual salary reaches at $121,885. Other good choices according to the metropolitan areas can be found in the states of Alaska and Florida. But you can also earn a good salary in this field if you work in a non-metropolitan area.
For example, you can earn a good annual salary as a physical therapist if you are working in Northwest Iowa, where you can earn an income of about $118,245 per year, while in Upper Eastern Shore in Maryland you earn an annual salary of about $119,930 and so on.
Like in any other states, there are the lowest points where an annual salary in the physical therapist field reaches at $55,625 annually. But the future outlook for these professionals is estimated to have a growing demanding in this field. This meaning that compared with other healthcare (medical) domains, even with a lower point the salary is situated on a good position.
The area of specialty where you are working as a physical therapist will be another of the factors that influences the salary in this profession. For example, if you are working in the field of pediatrics as a physical therapist, then you’ll earn a salary reaching at $77,745 per year, while if you are working in the field of neurology the annual salary reaches at $116,345.
Physical Therapist Salary in Canada, Australia and UK
The annual average salary for a physical therapist in Canada is estimated to be comprised between CAD$70,050 and CAD$80,050, not to mention the fact that the hourly wages will vary also according to the years of work and the experience gained in the field, this starting from an hourly wage of CAD$22.30 and will increase in time at about an hourly wage of CAD$27.95 and even more.
In Australia, the average annual salary for a physical therapist will be estimated between AU$54,052 and AU$80,590. The median salary for someone working in this field reaches at about AU$64,415 per year. The experience in this field is very important like in any other, and it will make you gain a salary that can reaches at about AU$47,120 per year and even more, because it can increase up to AU$86,185 per year.
The UK will grant an average salary for a physical therapist reaching between £51,285 and £40,100 per year. The salary for one of these professionals will be very different according to the age. For example, a person who is working as a physical therapist and will be of twenty five years of age and even more will gain a salary reaching at £38,470 per year, while a professional who is beyond thirty will earn a salary as a physical technician reaching at £50,270 per year.
Conclusion on Physical Therapist Salary
The main benefit for a physical therapist is that one could find a great job by working in various settings and his work will be rewarded by the salary granted. The estimation of the amount of a physical therapist salary is known to be in a great growth according to the demands from the population, as well as for the aid that this job offers.
The medical system is in need for these professionals and the salary, even if it will vary according to the factors mentioned earlier, will be above the national average offered by other job salaries fields.
As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.
- Physical Therapist Assistant (AS)
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- Occupational Therapy Assistant