There are many ways to advance your career as a physical therapist. One way to do this is through continuing education. This can be done by attending a national conference, participating in a webinar, taking a CEU course on a range of subjects and more.
Physical therapists serve an important role in healthcare by helping people recover from illness or injury. Their work is to provide physical rehabilitation and counseling on increasing a patient’s mobility and reducing their pain. If you love working with people and want to help them regain their physical potential, this job is for you.
But how can you advance your career as a physical therapist? What are the steps necessary to do this job? What is the kind of training you’ll need to work in this field? For current physical therapists, how can you continue to advance in the field you love?
What Does a Physical Therapist Really Do?
Physical therapists evaluate and work hands-on with patients to improve their mobility. They do this work in a variety of clinical settings, from nursing homes to private homes, hospitals, and clinics. These professionals are highly sought-after and the field continues to expand.
Physical therapists focus on restoring function, reducing pain, and increasing mobility in people of all ages. To advance your career in the field, you should have:
- a love of people and the patience to help them;
- extensive training in bone, muscle and ligament structure; and
- the aptitude for extensive coursework.
Some of the daily tasks a physical therapist takes on include:
- Examination of and consultation with patients. This includes a hands-on exam testing joint flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance, coordination, and more.
- Diagnosing the problem. This could take into account the patient’s mental attitude and quality of home life, as well as their ability to physically function.
To become certified as a physical therapist, you must receive a bachelor’s degree in a related field, then go on to earn a doctorate in physical therapy from an accredited PT education program. You must also seek a license to practice in your state. Finally, you must complete a residency in physical therapy.
Advancing Your Career in PT
For the current physical therapist, advancing your career means improving your existing skills by attending a national or regional conference or webinar, or adding to your CEU credits by taking additional classes. Practicing physical therapists have a number of options for career advancement, including the following:
- Specializing in a specific practice area. This could include becoming a certified hand therapist, which requires several thousand additional hours of clinical work, and successful testing and certification.
- Going into management. Physical therapy managers supervise the clinical staff. They handle hiring and training, scheduling, or other administrative tasks. A physical therapist could also become a rehabilitation services director. These professionals create patient treatment plans for PT, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counseling, or other services. They also oversee the therapists providing these services.
- Going into surgery. With extensive additional training, some practicing physical therapists may even decide to become an orthopedic surgeon. This requires going to medical school and attending an orthopedics residency.
For some physical therapists, giving back to the community means helping patients regain their mobility. Others prefer to advance their careers by going into management or taking on additional training to improve their skills. In all these cases, a physical therapist serves an important role in the healthcare services paradigm.
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