Often referred to as PTs, physical therapists are responsible for helping ill or injured people manage their pain levels and improve their movement range. They are often a very important part of the treatment and rehabilitation of patients with chronic injuries, conditions, or illnesses. It is also part of the physical therapist job description for them to do their best to prevent such issues not just help with the treatment.
Job Overview: What Does a Physical Therapist Professional Do?
People with the physical therapist job description tend to have a much higher pay than other similar professions in healthcare. This is mainly owed to the many responsibilities someone with the physical therapist job description has, as well as to the very tiring and stressful nature of the job. However, for the right people, the job description of a physical therapist can offer one of the most satisfying on-the-job experiences.
Physical Therapist Job Duties
- Assessing and interpreting test results and evaluations, and meeting each patient’s needs and goals.
- Consulting with nurses, physicians, social workers, and other health practitioners.
- Determining and developing physical therapy treatment plans, and providing highly qualitative care.
- Helping patients accept therapeutic devices and accomplishing their treatment plans.
- Encouraging, instructing, and assisting patients in their physical activities.
- Helping patients perform ambulatory, non-manual, and functional activities.
- Administering massages and manual exercises to patients.
- Helping patients get back to their regular, day to day activities.
- Applying physical agents and initiating traction, using whirlpool baths and hydrotherapy tanks.
- Helping patients get a handle on supportive devices such as prostheses, crutches, and canes.
- Using ultrasound machines, moist packs, and infrared and ultraviolet lamps.
- Evaluating and measuring the effects of physical therapy.
- Recommending any necessary modifications or adjustments, and fitting orthotic and prosthetic devices.
- Evaluating, observing, noting patients’ progress, and deciding patients’ discharge plan.
- Designing exercises for home and instructing patients how to continue their therapy after the discharge.
- Recommending assistive equipment and outpatient follow-up programs.
- Documenting, charting and taking care of department and patient records.
- Protecting patient confidentiality and the hospital’s operations.
- Complying with rules, procedures, and regulations.
- Adhering to the policies on infection control and maintaining a clean and safe work environment.
- Taking care of the maintenance requirements, troubleshooting malfunctions, following instructions, and calling for repairs.
- Maintaining technical and professional knowledge.
- Reviewing professional publications and attending educational workshops.
- Participating in professional societies and establishing personal networks, as well as contributing to conferences on patient care.
- Training and helping in the formation of the physical therapy staff.
- Contributing to team efforts and guiding treatments given by assistants, aides, and technicians.
- Studying the required legislation and complying with the local, state, and federal requirements.
- Helping management take the right actions under certain conditions.
Physical Therapist Job Essential Skills
As with most jobs in healthcare, getting the physical therapist job description and salary must be preceded by possessing a number of skill sets and qualities. Of course, some positions require slightly different skill sets than others. For example, the pediatric physical therapist job description will require some different qualities than the orthopedic physical therapist job description.
Field Knowledge. This professional must possess an advanced knowledge of physiology. He needs to have a will to promote and maintain health. Also, the ability to create and work in a safe and effective environment. Being focused on quality is a key element of the job.
Organizational Skills. Organizational skills and a great attention to details are mandatory in order to fulfill the job properly. It is also important for the person with the physical therapist job description to be compliant with the legal system.
Interpersonal Skills. High amounts of compassion and great interpersonal skills are also a requirement for this job. Being able to motivate and inspire others as well as having a certain level of persistence are also mandatory.
Physical skills. Being in a good physical shape and having stamina are important for the person with the physical therapist job description. Very high amounts of dexterity and a high level of energy are also necessary in order to complete the job requirements.
Becoming a Physical Therapist
From helping patients relieve the severe pain caused by a horrifying accident to helping a stroke victim regain the ability to walk and use their fingers, the physical therapist job description and salary are highly satisfying. It is often difficult for physical therapists lacking a certain amount of compassion to excel or to even be good at the job. Interpersonal skills and the ability to form human connections are very important for the job.
Qualifications and Training
Generally, people hoping to get the job description for a physical therapist have some serious educational requirements. They must possess some sort of advanced degree, usually either a Master of Physical Therapy degree or a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. However, before enrolling in the doctoral program that lasts about three years, one must first acquire a bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, all states require that physical therapists have a license in order to practice. For this, future physical therapists have to pass the NPTE exam. NPTE is short for the National Physical Therapist Examination. After completing all the years of educational and formative training, some physical therapists also receive on-the-job training.
The two major ways in which experience influences the physical therapist job description is in regards to the salary, as well as one’s chances of getting hired. Of course, the odds of getting a job as a physical therapist by a significant employer grow higher with one’s experience on the job. The more years an individual spends in the profession, the higher their chances of getting hired for a better position.
As for how the physical therapist salary is influenced by experience, payscale.com says that the salary of an average person with the physical therapist job description can grow by as much as $20,000 over twenty years of experience.
One more thing that can change with experience is the need for an assistant. Some physical therapists need assistants earlier in their careers, while others decide to take them on later, after growing old or tired enough to require help.
Physical therapists usually work full time, though part-time work might be possible. They work the normal 8 am to 5 pm day shift job, however some might offer therapy services to customers in several shifts. Either early in the morning, starting 6 am to 2 pm, or 10 am to 6 pm.
Some hospitals or nursing homes provide weekend physical therapy. Therefore this professionals might need to work weekends or holidays in a rotating shifts schedule.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median physical therapy salary at $85,400 per year, or $41.06 per hour. Most people with the physical therapist job description work in clinics, hospitals, private offices, and nursing homes. They tend to spend most of their time on their feet, caring for patients and helping them recover.
The employment rate for physical therapists is estimated to grow 34% by 2024. That is a much faster growth than the average for all occupations in the United States. The consensus is that this abnormally fast growth is due to several factors.
One of these factors is the constant increase of the elderly population, particularly baby boomers, always in need of physical therapy. Since this population segment has started staying active longer in life, the need for people with the physical therapist job description has only grown. The other factor which greatly influences the need for physical therapists is the tide of mobility issues caused by conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
The four most common work settings where aspiring physical therapists can be found after finishing their education are residential and nursing care facilities, hospitals, health practitioners’ offices, or home health care services. If you are interested in the field, you can also read the caregiver job description.
Having one of the best-paid therapist professions, physical therapists are becoming an increasingly indispensable commodity in our day and age. While the physical therapist job description is very comprehensive, the high satisfaction levels of the job make it a favorite among healthcare workers. For those interested, a physical therapist resume sample can be found here.