Physical therapy is a term often thrown around in daily conversation, but few people actually understand the scope of a physical therapy practice. Physical Therapists are highly educated clinicians who help patients with a myriad of issues every single day. Before we dive into a typical day, it’s helpful to understand the training and background of a physical therapist.

The Backstory

Physical therapists are extremely educated. To be licensed, therapists must complete a doctoral program, pass an exam, and maintain their certification through continuing education. While the training is extensive, jobs in the field are also in high demand. Recent data suggests the field is expected to grow 28 percent over the next ten years.

Where Do They Work & What Do They Do?

Physical therapy professionals work in a variety of settings so each therapist’s workload depends heavily on this fact. Some common facilities include: nursing homes, hospitals, schools, research labs, outpatient clinics, or sports training facilities.

Regardless of work location, there are some consistent tasks you’ll find in the workload of each physical therapist. PTs often work one-on-one with patients to address mobility issues. They’re extremely adept at examining a patient and developing a tailored treatment plan. Along with this, physical therapists are required to document their sessions and must be extremely detailed in their note-taking.

A Typical Day

As we’ve already explored, physical therapists work in a variety of settings and the setting often dictates the look of a typical day. However, here is a general look at a the day-to-day schedule:

  1. Early Morning Hours:
    In the morning hours most physical therapists are the first to arrive. They’ll be tasked with cleaning up the work space and ensuring the facility is presentable for clients. They’ll also use this time to review their appointments for the day and prepare any last minute routines.
  2. Late Morning and Afternoon Hours:
    Most of the late morning and early afternoon will be committed to physical therapy sessions with existing patients or new client orientations. For existing clients physical therapists will work through an established routine and chart progress based on past visits. For newer patients the physical therapist will examine the patient and offer some parameters for future treatment.
  3. Late Afternoon Hours
    The tail end of the day is often left for charting and updating notes on the day’s sessions. Physical therapists are required by law to chart a patient’s progress so time must be committed to finishing this work.

Overall, Physical therapists report a high level of job satisfaction. They are able to positively impact lives each and every day. While the job is stressful at times, the return is well worth the investment.