Career Story: School District Physical Therapist

School District Physical Therapist

Job Title: Physical Therapist

Type of Company: I work for a school district in a suburb of Hartford, CT.

Education: BS, Physical Therapy, University of Hartford •• Doctor of Physical Therapy, Simmons College (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked as an acute care physical therapist in Hartford, CT and later as school physical therapist in another district.

Job Tasks: I work as a physical therapist with children with special needs, improving their ability to accomplish physical tasks: their ability to walk, climb stairs, join in on the playground and participate in phys. ed. classes. I work with children with varying levels of disabilities. Some children need my assistance in learning how to walk or climb the stairs to the school cafeteria; others may only need to improve their coordination so they can participate in classroom activities or playground activities with their peers.

In addition to providing direct service to students, I teach a physical education development class with the PE teachers. This is a class of 6-8 children with special needs. The goal of the class is to improve fitness and provide an introduction to the skills the students will need to participate in their regular PE class.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are that I get to work with wonderful children and I have a flexible schedule. I work full-time but have vacations, holidays and summers off with my own children. It is nice to see the look on a child's face when he masters a task he had struggled with before: being able to walk independently or climbing the stairs without someone holding his hand. Something difficult about my job is that I sometimes have to work with medically fragile children or children with a terminal condition. That can be very sad.

Job Tips: Before deciding on physical therapy, consider volunteering as a PT aide in a clinic or school. This will give you the chance to learn what being a PT really means. Once in school, continue to volunteer; experience means everything. And keep track of what you've done, the courses you've attended, etc. This will help when you try to put your resume together.

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