Physiotherapists help people regain their muscle strength and motion to maximize their mobility through movement and exercise, massaging, or other physical methods, which were otherwise restricted because of an injury, illness, disorder, deformity, or even aging.
As a physiotherapist, you may treat a variety of patients requiring different treatments such as neurological therapy, neuromusculoskeletal therapy, cardiovascular therapy, or respiratory therapy.
After diagnosing the patient’s problem, a physiotherapist will not only use their knowledge and skills to formulate a personalized treatment plan, but also encourage and educate the patient about how to actively participate in their healing process and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Besides manual therapy, they will utilize advanced medical equipment to ease pain and aid people of all ages restore their range of movement, develop strength and improve their flexibility as they recover.
The job prospects for physical therapists are brighter than ever due to the growing demand for rehabilitative care.
With the aging populations becoming more susceptible to chronic conditions that affect mobility, and an increase in sedentary lifestyles in the digital age, people tend to suffer more from common diseases and conditions like obesity stemming from minimal physical activity.
Read more about the indispensable connection between exercise and your health here.
Well, you are probably here because you have already discovered physiotherapy as your passion and want to turn it into a profession.
If that is the case then you’ve stopped by the right place.
Below is a step by step guide about the requirements and training needed to become a physiotherapist and successfully embark on this highly satisfying career path.
What Do You Need for Becoming a Physiotherapist:
1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree.
To begin with, aspirants will generally need an undergraduate degree, preferably in a health related discipline such as biology, chemistry, psychology, physics, or physiology.
If the first degree is in an unrelated discipline, then students will normally be required to complete relevant prerequisite coursework before enrolling in a graduate program to develop a strong foundation for basic science regarding the complex functions of the human body.
2. Earn a Masters or Doctor of Physiotherapy Degree.
After earning an undergraduate degree, one must complete a postgraduate degree such as an MSc or Doctor of Physiotherapy, DPT program, which is a qualifying degree to practice physical therapy.
Admission to a Master’s or DPT program is extremely competitive, with the average GPA requirement for aspiring students being 3.6.
The program usually takes 2 to 4 years to complete, and its curriculum is a blend of classroom education coupled with lab studies and clinical education.
Students are also required to complete a specific amount of clinical work, usually 30 weeks.
Most top ranking institutions will require students to have completed a certain number of volunteer or paid hours during their undergraduate studies shadowing licensed physical therapists in order to gain exposure working with patients with different backgrounds and conditions.
These opportunities are offered in various settings where physiotherapists practice such as hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and wellness centers.
It is important to choose a program that has a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, CAPTE, accreditation so that you are eligible to sit for the physical therapy licensure exam subsequently.
3. Obtain a License To Start Practice.
Finally, the last official step for you to practice physiotherapy is to get board certified and obtain a license by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam, NPTE, held four times a year.
Having passed the licensure exam, you will be eligible to work in hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, rehabilitation centers, or even start your own private practice.
4. Enroll In a Residency or Fellowship Program.
Having completed a Masters or Doctoral Physiotherapy degree and obtained a license, many students choose to further their education and enroll in a residency program or fellowship in order to gain training and hands on experience by working alongside senior physical therapists.
During this, students can choose to further specialize in a particular clinical area such as neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, or geriatrics in order to enhance their practice, and consequently get certified with the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, ABPTS.
Due to the ever evolving role of physiotherapists in the healthcare system, it is crucial for physiotherapists to continuously improve upon their existing knowledge and skills.
Dave O’Sullivan’s physiotherapy courses emphasize continuing professional development by taking additional training and courses, as O Sullivan terms it non negotiable for physiotherapists in order to progress their careers and develop innovative approaches to treating patients more effectively.
5. Other Non Academic Requirements.
Because a physiotherapist closely interacts with patients on a daily basis, it is equally important for one to possess certain essential skills besides academics and professional qualifications in order to excel in this field.
As you will be encouraging and inspiring people to lead a happy and healthy life, you need to exhibit positive body language and behavior at all times by putting any outside frustration or emotional stress at the door, as any negative vibes from your side can demotivate or demoralize the patient, affecting the treatment sessions or at worst the overall outcome.
In addition, it is vital for a physiotherapist to have highly effective communication skills in order to convey what they need to say, be it correcting errors during treatment or informing the patient about what exercises they need to perform by themselves to speed up their healing process.
Besides, a good physiotherapist is one who shows empathy towards the patient.
Instead of feeling sorry and trying to sympathize with the patient due to their condition, you must make them feel that you not only understand their problem but also regularly utter words of encouragement and motivation regarding how they will achieve their treatment goals to recover from the problem.
What Else You Should Know:
Becoming a physiotherapist in the modern era is a rewarding and fulfilling career path where one can make a positive impact on other people’s lives by improving their physical and mental well being.
If you are someone who likes interacting with people and has a passion to help them by transforming their health, then a career as a physiotherapist may be well suited for you.
Here’s hoping that this guide effectively educated all aspiring physiotherapists about the qualifications and requirements they need to fulfill in order to pursue this highly rewarding occupation.