Benefits of a Physical Therapist Career

There are many reasons you should consider a career in physical therapy.

Make a Difference. "Being a physical therapist is very rewarding. You will work with patients one-on-one, see them progress through treatment, and know that you are really making a difference in their lives," said APTA spokesperson Meredith Harris, PT, DPT, EdD. Whether the patient's problem is a result of injury or disease, the physical therapist is a rehabilitation specialist who fosters the patient's return to maximal function. Physical therapists also will work with individuals to prevent loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Be a Movement Expert. Physical therapists are highly educated experts in the movement and function of the human body. The goal of a physical therapist is to promote the patient's ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapy is an essential element of patient care. Therapeutic exercise and functional training are the cornerstones of physical therapist treatment. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may "mobilize" a joint or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function. Physical therapists may use other techniques such as electrotherapy, ultrasound (high-frequency waves that produce heat), hot packs, and ice in addition to other treatments when appropriate.

Enjoy Job Security. For Americans looking for a rewarding career in a struggling job market and down economy, a career in physical therapy could be the perfect answer. The soaring demand for physical therapists can be attributed to the aging American population, particularly baby boomers who are more vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require physical therapist services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapists is expected to spike upward by an astonishing 30% between 2008 and 2018—a much quicker rate than average. Currently, there are approximately 185,500 licensed physical therapists in the United States, and that number is expected to jump to 241,700 over the next 10 years.

Love Your Job. Helping people to attain or regain the ability to walk and carry out daily life can lead to a great feeling of personal satisfaction. Physical therapists report one of the highest job-satisfaction levels in the country! So says a recent National Opinion Research Center survey, which was chronicled in an April 17, 2007, article of the Chicago Tribune. With more than three-quarters of physical therapists polled reporting to be "very satisfied" with their occupations, PTs were second only to clergy, and were the only health care professionals in the top 5.

Choose Your Location. Physical therapists work with patients of all ages all across the country. Choose from a wide range of locations and work settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, employer settings, and nursing homes.

Be an Entrepreneur. Do you want to be your own boss? More than twenty-one percent (21.6%) of physical therapists are owners of, or partners in, a physical therapy practice.

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