Physical Therapist

How to Become a Physical Therapist
Physical Therapist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Physical Therapist
Physical Therapist Salary
Influential Professional Physical Therapists
Leading Organizations for Physical Therapists
Top Cities for Physical Therapy Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are people that greatly improve the quality of life and help with the regaining of loco-motor capabilities in people that have lost them in one way or another. A physical therapist works in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation spheres. A physical therapist will not only help people regain part of their motion capabilities, but will also work at a psychological, emotional and social level, not just the physical level. The first practitioner of an early form of physical therapy is said to be Hippocrates, the father of medicine, but the first documented use of physical therapy dates back to 1894, when the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy was formed by four English nurses. In the United States of America Reed College in Portland, Oregon had graduates certified as "reconstruction aides" as early as 1914. There are a lot of specialties in which a physical therapist can specialize. They include cardiopulmonary, orthopedic, pediatrics and even geriatrics and neurology, to name but a few. So it's best to know beforehand what the specialty you want to work in is, because you can't be working in all of them. Formal training requirements vary by country. In the United States, if you pursue training in physical therapy education, you'll have to go all the way to a master's degree or a doctor of physical therapy degree, and you'll have to obtain it from an accredited physical therapy institution. Additionally, you will have to pass through an internship and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination before you can practice. Only after you've completed all these tasks can you acquire a license to practice. The license is granted by the state you reside in. You can acquire a degree in physical therapy in all the Medical Schools and Universities in the United States. It will be hard work, work that you should continue by taking an internship and passing all further State exams. It culminates with you getting licensed to practice.

What does a Physical Therapist do?

A physical therapist helps to restore maximum movement and functional abilities in people who have lost them for one reason or another. Even if movement is hindered by age, injury, disease or other factors, the physical therapist must make sure that the patient regains functional movement. For a physical therapist, regaining functional movement is the goal he strives to achieve for his patients. Physical therapists practice in all sorts of settings, from clinics, retirement homes and private homes to extended care facilities, hospitals, research centers, fitness centers and even sports facilities. Everywhere their services might be needed, from industrial settings to exclusive spas, a physical therapist might find work. Nothing stops a physical therapist from starting his own clinic or to going door to door to assist people who need his services. So the actual location will depend on your particular situation and your employer. The fact of the matter is that you can enjoy a certain degree of liberty when choosing your work setting and your work load.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Physical Therapist?

The main requirement for a physical therapist is to have passed all the exams and to have acquired his license. A physical therapist has to be social, have lots of patience, and be able to be friendly in any situation. Empathy is also a requirement in this job, to make sure you can understand exactly what's going on in your patient's head and heart. Another thing you'll need to be proficient in is computer operating. You'll be using the computer to find new information, to enter data in a data base and to keep patient charts. You don't have to be a computer wizard, but basic computer operating skill will come in handy. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are a must, because you'll be working with people in distress on a daily basis. You'll also need management and administration skills, to keep patient charts and schedules neatly organized. Last but not least, you'll need all the dexterity you can muster, since you'll have to sometimes manually handle your patients, and light hands will get you further than you'd think.

How much does a Physical Therapist make?

A licensed physical therapist can earn as much as $78,451 or as little as $58,941, depending on where he works, what specialty he's involved with and other factors that can't be controlled. But these are the extremes. Depending on the employer, geographical location, experience and skills and specialty, a physical therapist will usually make between $63,805 and $74,017. If you supplement that with personal patients and house calls, you could be earning six figures per year, but it would require hard work and dedication.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Since there are lots of specializations when it comes to physical therapy, we can't go and name all of the influential professionals in the field. However, we can name a few that have gone beyond their professional lives in helping others. We start with Barbara Connolly, EdD, PT, who is a professor of physical therapy and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Tennessee. She was named one of the most influential professionals in physical therapy by the Therapy Times in 2006. We can continue with Robin McKenzie, who has made a tremendous contribution to the treatment of spinal disorders and injuries, and with Brian Mulligan, who is internationally regarded as a leader in manual therapy, having even invented a method that bears his name.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

One of the leading organizations in the field of physical therapy is the American Physical Therapy Association, which oversees and gathers statistics about each and every physical therapist in the United States. To name but a few others, we have the Doctor of Physical Therapy Visionary Foundation, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and the McKenzie Institute. All these are organizations devoted to the betterment of the profession and to the continual self-improvement of their members and the field they represent.

What are the top cities for Physical Therapy jobs?

You will find jobs as a physical therapist all over the United States, since the need for specialized personnel is always high. Currently, the best city to be a physical therapist in is Chicago, Illinois. In second place we find Houston, Texas and in the third place we see Cincinnati, Ohio.

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