The health care field is today’s top area for job growth and opportunity. There is a constant need for people that are willing to help care for the sick, ill and injured at a variety or ages and levels of function. One of the largest growing areas in this field is physical therapy. A career in physical therapy holds many options and choices for work. Here are some tips from someone who knows on how to know if this field is right for you.
1. Do your research.
Physical therapy offers a variety of fields to practice your skills in. When considering a job in this field, you should look at these fields to see if these are areas you would be interested in as a career. These areas include, but are not limited to: pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, hospital settings, outpatient orthopedic or neurological specialties, team therapist, community health and wellness, industrial work and extended care facilities. Have an idea about each of these areas and see if this is somewhere you could see yourself in the future, in one or perhaps a few areas of interest.
2. Get in and see.
Most physical therapists are open to teaching-it is part of the profession, a skill you must have to be effective. That said, most are willing to help a student or interested volunteer to learn more about our field of expertise. Take advantage of that, contacting a facility or two that specialize in a field you find interesting and put in some volunteer time. These valuable hours will give you a first person view of what the profession is all about, and better serve your decision-making in the long term.
3. Check out the schools.
The final and most important step is where to start your education. There are many schools out there offering degrees in physical therapy. Currently, more than half offer a doctorate of physical therapy, while the others still offer a master degree in the field. The APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) has a vision that by the year 2020 all school and practitioners are at the doctorate of physical therapy level. At this point, you make the choice as to what level you care to participate on, realize that both are entry-level and pay/marketability after graduation is virtually the same. Look at the coursework offered by the school you find interesting, and if you are able take time to venture out to campus for a guided tour with a current student. These students are valuable resources to your decision making.
The growth and opportunity in the field of physical therapy is as strong as ever, and as more baby boomers continue to age and stay active, the need for our profession will be there. Consider your options and good luck with your decision making!