Physical therapy degree programs are increasingly popular amongst students and employers as a means to train physical therapists. This page has information on the profession, on the degree programs that provide the training, where they can be found, what the prospects are after completion, and more … If you are interested in this area, you might also like to check the occupational therapist page.
The value of a physical therapy degree
Once you have qualified in physical therapy, you can work in a few different settings, the first being an outpatient clinic. Here the patient will come with a physician order for a specified amount of treatments. The therapist will engage the care with the patient and set forth a treatment plan. Once the time period and patient progress has been achieved, the care is over. In this setting you work very closely with other therapists, gym equipment, lap or aquatic pools, and exercise tools to help the patient recover and mend.
Another setting is in the hospital. Patients need assistance in both the inpatient and outpatient care areas. You typically help them in their room, in hallways, or in a designated area within the hospital. This designated area within the hospital also may a centralized location to provide outpatient care to walk-in patients too.
In addition to these mentioned, there are many other career opportunities such as in the home health industry, outpatient care centers, and doctors offices. There are also self employment opportunities and contracted agreements to consider as well.
Many physical therapists teach or instruct in academic areas and perform research studies. For these positions in universities, a doctorate degree in physical therapy is normally required, though in some colleges a masters degree in physical therapy may be sufficient.
Rehabilitation and therapy is also provided in skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many residents and patients in these areas may require more frequent care and intense plans. This is because of their age or the fact that they are recovering from a serious accident or injury.
Education and training for physical therapy
The degrees required for physical therapy certification have increased through the years. It is possible to obtain an associate degree in physical therapy and this may be sufficient for a position as a Physical Therapist Aide or even as a Physical Therapist Assistant, but to be a Licensed Physical Therapist (LPT) you really need a physical therapy bachelor degree.
Courses include biology, anatomy and physiology. Other classes like exercise physiology and neuroscience help the student to understand and learn about exercise and sports therapy. Others classes may include behavioral science courses, which really comes in to play when learning how to cope with a patient’s rehab.
The salary for a physical therapist varies depending on where you are employed. The highest level of income is typically achieved when you are self employed, contract your services and own your own clinics. However, nursing care and home health facilities generally pay more in salary than the other settings.
Depending in your qualifications, it is possible to enter the profession as a Physical Therapist Aide (salary between $18,000 and $31,000), or as a Physical Therapist Assistant or Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA) with a salary between $31,000 and $63,000. As a Physical Therapist (PT) or Licensed Physical Therapist (LPT) you can earn $51,000 to $88,000.
There are chances for further advancement too. Many therapists start out providing direct care to the patients, then are given additional management responsibilities. As this occurs, there is a high probability of moving into other supervisory or director level positions within the organization. As a Lead Physical Therapist or Senior Physical Therapist you would earn $60,000 to $97,000, and as a Physical Therapist Director you can expect to earn $64,000 to $107,000.
Regardless of the employment location or setting you desire, having good customer service skills and behavioral training is very important. Managing patient needs who are not used to be being dependent on direct care can be difficult to deal with. Having the right attitude, understanding and compassion can go a long way in the effective and efficient recovery of the patient. The education and training provided by a degree in physical therapy is essential.
List of physical therapy schools and programs
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median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*