Job Title: Physical Therapist
Type of Company: I work for a large teaching hospital
Education: attended Boston University without graduating BS, Physical Therapy, Northeastern University
Previous Experience: I have been a physical therapist for twenty-two years, starting my career at a rehab hospital and later moving to a sports medicine clinic where I began as a staff therapist and in the course of a dozen years worked my way up to the job of Director of Physical Therapy. I've been at my current job as a supervisor of rehab for the past nine years.
Job Tasks: I work as the supervisor of rehabilitation in a large teaching hospital where I manage a staff of physical and occupational therapists and orthopedic technicians. The clinic I work in is an outpatient clinic (meaning patients don't stay).
We treat a variety of injuries and illnesses, but our specialty is orthopedics. Shoulder dislocations and joint problems, including muscle tears and strains, are especially common. We also treat patients who've injured their spines (either back or neck) and patients just recovering from surgery (to their knees, hips, shoulders, backs and necks).
We begin treatment, always, by evaluating patients for what are known as simple "deficits." Muscle weakness or tightness are common examples of what we mean by this, but we also look for other things: how well patients walk and how flexible injured joints are. More often than not, we conclude our evaluations by prescribing a program of exercise to be performed by the patient at home. But we often ask patients to return to us for therapy, so we can treat them with specialized equipment and oversee stretching exercises, joint manipulation and mobilization and other procedures. We also teach our patients how to avoid re-injuring themselves.
To insure that the work we do is as helpful to our patients as possible we have to stay up-to-date, taking courses and trying to stay abreast of all the latest therapeutic developments.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: One of the best parts of the job is meeting the people I meet. I spend a lot of time with patients as they're going through rehab and observing their progress is extremely rewarding: watching them come to me in pain and unable to do much and seeing them return in due time to their jobs, or their sports, or just to walking again is a huge boost.
The worst part of the job is discovering that I can't help someone.
Job Tips: The educational path to physical therapy starts with a solid science base. Many students will want choose a major such as exercise science. The next step is to apply to a Doctorate in Physical Therapy program.
Additional Thoughts: Physical therapy is a wonderful and rewarding career. But the qualities that a good therapist needs to possess are both numerous and rare: compassion, good judgement and good organization and time management skills. It doesn't hurt either to have a nic way with people, since you'll be dealing with all kinds of them.
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