Physical therapy can be a great, holistic approach to health and is beneficial for a variety of reasons, like recovering from an injury, maximizing mobility, pain management, and helping prevent further injury.
Why You Should Choose PT
To become a practitioner in physical therapy, you need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Typically, DPT programs are around 36 months, in addition to the standard undergrad degree (about 4 years). All in all, you’ll probably spend around 7 years getting the education to become a PT. The road may seem long, but it’s so worth it!
Physical therapists also have an opportunity to obtain specialty certifications by building on a PT base of education and then honing their skill set in a specific area of interest. Some of these specialties are:
- Cardiovascular / Pulmonary
- Sports Physical Therapy
- Clinical Electrophysiology
- Women's Health
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) quotes the mission of educating physical therapists as:
“…to graduate knowledgeable, service-oriented, self-assured, adaptable, reflective practitioners who, by virtue of critical and integrative thinking, lifelong learning, and ethical values, render independent judgments concerning patient/client needs that are supported by evidence; promote the health of the patient or client; and enhance the professional, contextual, and collaborative foundations for practice. These practitioners contribute to society and the profession through practice, teaching, administration, and the discovery and application of new knowledge about physical therapy experiences of sufficient excellence and breadth to allow the acquisition and application of essential knowledge, skills, and behaviors as applied to the practice of physical therapy. Learning experiences are provided under the guidance and supervision of competent faculty, in both the classroom and the clinic.”
Regardless of whether or not you choose to specialize or generalize, physical therapists have three main medical focuses that they regularly tend to. First, examining the patient and determining their medical condition. Then diagnosing the patient. And finally, determining and executing a plan for treatment. This is the main blueprint for PT regardless of where and what you practice in.
At Fusion, we think physical therapy is a wonderful career with exciting growth opportunities. We really value our physical therapists in the industry. Why you should choose a career in PT can depend on a variety of factors. Why is a career in physical therapy so awesome? Here are a few reasons.
You stay busy.
With a heavy workflow of patients to evaluate, treat, and follow up on, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll never be bored in physical therapy. Everyone’s body is different, every patient has a different problem, and therefore require different techniques for effective treatment. Additionally, you have other responsibilities as a PT besides treating your patients. Scheduling, working with team members and support staff, and administration duties are all part of being a successful physical therapist. Finding a way to streamline the process by getting organized is crucial to getting everything done overall… but also getting everything done correctly. Being a physical therapist is a fast-paced, organized and a mentally rewarding career, so if you like the hustle and learning new things, this is the career for you.
You make a difference.
As a PT, you’re helping people gain mobility and reducing their pain, which is an amazing feeling for both your patient and yourself. That amazing feeling fosters positivity with your patient and their loved ones, while you get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone get to a good place in their physical health. You’re also the communication bridge for your patients, conveying what is happening and how you can help in a humble manner that they can understand. A patient’s health isn’t just a “job” to you; it’s a unique experience and a case-by-case basis. Making an impact on your patients
You learn new techniques.
As a physical therapist, you become well-versed in a variety of techniques, like how to apply pressure and temperatures to joints and muscles. Because the body moves in so many different ways and there are various layers to physical injuries, you get to put the puzzle pieces together to help your patients.
A good PT is knowledgeable and up-to-date on the ways to diagnose and treat a patient from head to toe. And because the healthcare industry is always changing, it’s important that you not only learn new PT techniques but stay in the loop about new and trending healthcare changes.
If you thrive on constant learning and vast knowledge in the medical field, being a PT could be your ideal career! There is no “faking it until you make it” in the physical therapy world.
You work where you want.
As traveling medical professional in PT, you have the benefit of moving around and exploring new places as you learn and work on your career. If you're a new grad, read our post about the benefits of traveling as a new grad from a traveling PT's perspective. The freedom to work where you want as a traveling PT is actually much more crucial than you may think. Burnout is high in any medical profession, and having the perk to choose your location, how long, and sometimes your shift schedule can really set the pace for your levels of stress, helping you deal with busier days, high-stress scenarios, and avoiding the medical practice burnout.
PT professionals and PT travelers are not just confined to hospital settings either. There are so many different places you can work: fitness facilities, sports organizations, rehabs, clinics, in-patient, out-patient, nursing homes, home health, schools, etc. There’s an option for just about everybody interested in a different setting other than a hospital.
You get the money.
When you’re working in the medical field, it’s pretty well-known that your main drive is empathy, care, and helping those who need it. It’s how you’re fulfilled. While there are a lot of great emotional and educational perks to becoming a traveling PT, everyone needs a little compensation to make the world go ‘round. Your paycheck isn’t always the most important factor, but getting paid well for a PT job that you’re passionate about allows you to live comfortably and with a higher level of work-life balance, making you a better, more motivated PT in the long run.
You have job security.
Physical therapy is used for a variety of reasons—recovery, prevention, increased or sustained mobility, and pain management. And because practically everybody can benefit from physical therapy, this job isn’t going away any time soon. Did you know physical therapy jobs are expected to grow 34% by 2024? The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicted that over 71,000 PT jobs would be created by 2024. Plus, this job is such a specific and personalized form of care, it can take time and may require customization based on the person’s body and ailment. Physical therapists and their knowledge and patience are always needed.
Not only are you always needed for your expertise, but if you choose to be your own boss, you can branch out and start your own physical therapy practice after you gain enough knowledge under your belt. Over 21% of physical therapists are owners or partners in a physical therapy practice.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to physical therapy. It’s a huge part of healthcare topics today. So, what are a few of the most popular topics surrounding physical therapy?
Physical Therapy Compact
According to PT Compact, the Physical Therapy Compact is “an agreement between member states to improve access to physical therapy services for the public by increasing the mobility of eligible physical therapy providers to work in multiple states.” Many physical therapists have questions about the PT Compact, especially if they’re a traveler: “How do I purchase a compact privilege?” “Which states are part of the PT Compact?” “Am I eligible to work in that state?”
If you want to know more about which states are included in the PT Compact, check out this handy map from PTCompact.org and scroll over each state to see the status and legislation.
Dry needling. Do it or don’t?
Dry needling by a physical therapist is a technique that inserts a needle into various points on a muscle to relieve pain and limited mobility. It’s typically one component to a bigger treatment plan put in motion by a PT and it’s used to increase rehab and healing time for a patient. Check out this video from Move Forward PT on the technique of dry needling, as explained by Carlos J. Berio, PT, DPT, MS, CMTPT, CSCS.
Are you a student looking for a career in PT? Check out our student outreach page to learn more about how you can start your adventure!
Already a PT and need a new assignment? Apply now!