Physical Therapy Ranks as ‘Best Job’—Is It for You?
Diane M. Kelly | posted January 31, 2012 |
We happily took note when CNNMoney.com recently ranked physical therapy number seven in the top 30 best jobs in America. The survey looked for jobs with excellent pay, job security, manageable stress, helping society and increasing demand.
This isn’t news to us—we’re tireless cheerleaders for this helping profession in the booming healthcare field. Every day, we place physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs) in positions that make a real difference in the lives of people, pay well and offer stellar benefits.
Experts predict that the physical therapy industry will boom in the next 10 years. So why is physical therapy such a hot field? First, let’s look at the populations served by PTs. Baby boomers are getting older and by 2025, the number of people worldwide over 60 is projected to double to almost two billion. The majority of those folks will live in developed countries, like the U.S.
PT helps people with the aging process—they can stay healthier and more independent, as well as see an improvement in quality of life. For people with chronic health conditions, like arthritis, a PT can teach them how to exercise to improve health while staying safe.
It’s also gotten easier to see a PT. Many states have eliminated the physician referral requirement for insurance. That opens the door for more patients.
Do you think this might be the field for you? Read on to learn more about how to be a PT or PTA and what the job involves.
PTs have advanced degrees, typically a two- to three-year graduate program. Usually that means a doctorate, though some masters programs are available. PTs usually study anatomy, behavioral science, biomechanics, cellular histology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and radiology.
In most states, a PT must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. There is also ongoing continuing education throughout the years to keep up with the many changes and advances in the field.
Some start off their career as assistants. PTAs need an associate degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. Additionally, most states require licensing for PTAs and working under a PT.
There are physical qualifications, as well, since the work can be demanding on the body. A PT need to be able to lift 50 pounds or more because in work with patients, he or she will often bear weight from the patient’s body, serve as a spotter with specialized exercise equipment and conduct stretching exercises.
Office and computer skills are also a requirement for PTs and PTAs. As professionals, they should have mastery of basic spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well as typing and e-mail, as these are often used to communicate with physicians and other members of the healthcare team. People in this profession will also frequently prepare written instructions for patients and manage office tasks, so programs like MS Word, Excel and Outlook are recommended.
Perhaps most important, PTs and PTAs need superior interpersonal skills. This is a helping profession and involved one-on-one work with diverse groups of people. This means that effective verbal communication can make the difference between successful treatment and difficulties with patients.
Finally, this profession requires planning and organization skills. Therapists establish goals for each patient, so the ability to plan ahead and meet deadlines is critical.
PT is not necessarily a one-office, 9-5 kind of job, so flexibility is key. Many professionals in this field work several part-time jobs at once, travel for 12-week assignments (like we offer at 360 Healthcare) or work in their own clinic. Many of these settings offer day and early evening appoints—some even are open on the weekends to accommodate patients’ schedules.
Generally speaking, PTs and PTAs are part of a team, including doctors, nurses and other therapists such as occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.
The job outlook for Physical Therapists
There are 180,280 jobs filled in PT and 109,900 filled in PTA, according to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of PTs is expected to grow by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018. That’s great news!
States with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for PTs are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. The top-paying states are Alaska, New Jersey, Texas, Delaware and Maryland.
Advancement in the field is usually based on level of education and years spent in practice.
For more information, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the World Confederation of Physical Therapy.
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It's National Occupational Therapy Month! | posted March 28, 2013
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