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Career Story: Hospital Physical Therapist

Hospital Physical Therapist

Job Title: Physical Therapist

Type of Company: I work for a non-profit hospital in east central Massachusetts.

Education: BS and certificate, Physical Therapy

Previous Experience: In college, I worked during the summers as a physical therapy aide.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for the evaluation and treatment of people with musculoskeletal or neurological problems with an emphasis on the upper extremities. People are usually referred to a physical therapist by a physician with a specific diagnosis such as rotator cuff tendonitis. However, it is not unusual for a patient to enter the clinic with an unspecified diagnosis such as shoulder pain. By doing a thorough exam of muscles, joints, ligaments, posture, sensation, and the nervous system, I am able to determine the cause of a person's pain, loss of motion, strength or balance and will devise a treatment plan to improve a person's ability to function at his highest level. The goal of a physical therapist is to look at a patient's impairments and help him recover from them, so he can return to living his life the way he used to. Treatments we employ include so-called "modalities" (including heat, cold and ultrasound), massage, splinting (in the case of some hand injuries), posture and gait training and exercise programs designed to improve or restore flexibility, strength, coordination or balance.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is meeting people from all aspects of life and helping them to recover from injuries or diseases that prevent them from enjoying good health. It is very rewarding to see people heal. The worst part of the job is the amount of paperwork that is required for reimbursement for services and the increasing problem of insurance companies dictating how much care people are allowed to receive.

Job Tips:
1. Try to volunteer in a hospital or clinic before applying to a PT program to make sure you like dealing with sick people.

2. Have a strong interest in anatomy, physiology and biology and psychology.

3. Enjoy working with people of different cultures and belief systems

4. Be flexible and adaptable.

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