Physical therapists are trained and licensed professionals with a doctoral degree in physical therapy from an accredited institution of higher learning. The primary focus of physical therapy is to help people with acute and chronic conditions that impede their ability to move and function physically in society. This includes rehabilitative efforts and pain management strategies. As a physical therapist you may work in a variety of settings, including your own private office and clinic, hospitals, on site industrial settings, nursing homes, or sports related facilities. Regardless of the work environment or the type of patient, athletes or the debilitated elderly, physical therapy requires you to work actively with your patients. This means you are on your feet most of the day and moving about.
An important question to ask is: How comfortable are you with seeing others in pain and dealing with them in an intimate setting? Physical therapy is a noble, helping profession that serves others and much will be expected of you. In dealing with patients who are in pain and distress day after day, it is up to you to cope with their situation and at the same time instill in them the desire to improve and recover as completely as possible. You have to be a compassionate motivator, moving your patient forward knowing that the exercises you prescribe may be quite painful, especially for those at the beginning of the process who have been victimized by traumatic injury. Depending on your specific interests, you may choose to focus your work. Physical therapy subspecialties include:
- Orthopedic – working with post-surgery patients
- Neurological – working with patients suffering from nerve disorders
- Working with those suffering from degenerative diseases
- Cardiac and Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Working with children
- Working with older adults
- Working with athletes
If physical therapy is the right career choice for you, the future is bright with a high median salary and high employment prospects projected well into the future. In fact, employment of physical therapists is expected to increase by nearly 40 percent over the next decade, due in large part to the legions of aging baby boomers. The demand for physical therapists now and in the future ranks near the top of virtually all occupations.