How To Become a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists, or PTs, are professionals who help patients who have injuries to improve their range of movement and to make their pain more manageable. Physical therapists are a very important part of the process of rehabilitation for patients who have chronic health problems or injuries. Professionals with a master’s degree in public health are likely to be in strong demand in the public sector and in the public health field for PT positions.
Physical therapists may help to care for patients of many ages who have any functional problems that are due to injuries to the neck and back, or possibly any strains or fractures of limbs or joints. Other possible conditions where a PT can help is stroke, work and sports injuries, and amputations.
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PTs are highly trained to use many different techniques, or modalities, to provide care for their patients. Some of the techniques involve using heat and cold, stimulation with the hands/massage, and also using various devices and equipment to help stimulate the joint or limb in question.
The work of physical therapists will vary a great deal, depending on the injury or condition that their patient has. If you have a loss of mobility due to Parkinson’s disease, your treatment will be different than the therapy for an injured athlete. Some PTs will specialize in a type of care for one particular type of patient, such as sports injuries or pediatrics.
Physical Therapist Career & Salary Outlook
The great news for physical therapist professionals is that there is a huge demand for people in the field. It is thought that there will be a whopping 39% increase in demand from 2010-20 for people in this field, which is much faster than average. Much of the demand comes from baby boomers who are retiring and also are living more active and productive lives than ever. People who are older will obviously have more medical problems and injuries, which require more physical therapy. And older people want to live more actively than previous older generations did, so they want to have treatments that keep them active and mobile.
The median wage for professionals in this field was $76,300 in 2010. The top 10% earned over $107,000. If you have a master’s degree in public health, you stand a good chance of getting a high-paying job in the public sector in various government agencies. Many physical therapists own a practice of their own, which means that they need to provide benefits and health insurance for their employees. See more from the Best Public Health Careers list.
Job Outlook for Physical Therapists
The job demand for physical therapists is very strong; much of this is because of great advances in medical technology that are boosting the uses of outpatient surgery to treat many diseases and illnesses. PTs are playing a critical role in helping these patients to recover fast from their surgeries. Also, it is thought that developments in medical and technological areas will allow more victims of trauma, and also premature birth, to live and survive. This is a great advance, but it naturally causes there to be a surge in demand for rehabilitative care. Also, more chronic diseases are occurring as the population is aging, and more PTs are needed to help patients to deal with them.
Physical Therapists Education and Training
A physical therapist usually will need to have a master’s of physical therapy degree, or a doctor of physical therapy degree. These programs usually last 2-3 years. PT programs include courses in biomechanics, physiology, anatomy, pharmacology and neurosciences. As a PT resident, you will go on clinical rotations and will get many hours of supervised work experience. You also can get a physical therapy residence after you graduate which will last up to three years.
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You will need to have a license to be a practicing physical therapist. You will probably need to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Also, your master’s in public health is an essential component to entering this field in the public health sector.