Physiotherapy As A Career

Published: 27th November 2009
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The requirement for larger numbers of physiotherapists is greater now than it has been for some time. Physiotherapy has been shown to be useful in an increasing number of medical conditions with the emphasis being on the prescription of exercise. There is a very wide range of physiotherapy interventions which cover the entire range of specialities in medicine from pregnancy to care of the elderly, intensive care unit to trauma and from acute strokes to managing patients' pain syndromes. The great scope of the profession permits practitioners to choose an area of specialty to concentrate on in their career.

Modern medicine and modern living standards have meant that the scope of physiotherapy is constantly getting wider, with physiotherapists now working in childhood and adult obesity, rehabilitating cancer patients, designing exercise regimes for dialysis patients and taking rehabilitation groups for pulmonary and cardiac patients. This expanding requirement for physiotherapy management means that there is a requirement for larger numbers to be trained and to get suitable work experience before going on to specialise in particular areas.

Typically three year degree physiotherapy courses are the main route of entry for physiotherapy students, with physiotherapy schools often placed in schools of health sciences in universities and other higher education establishments. There is a lot of competition for physiotherapy courses so the demand means that high levels of academic qualifications are required. Another route for those who already possess a degree in a relevant and related field is to enter the so-called fast track M.Sc. degrees in physiotherapy as they have studied the anatomy, physiology and exercise required and only need to undertake the relevant number of supervised physiotherapy hours and learning physiotherapy techniques.

The academic qualifications required for entry into physiotherapy courses are not the only criteria worth considering as there are many other aspects which could increase the likelihood of a successful application. Volunteering to serve the public or being employed in such a capacity can be helpful, whilst working in a health care related job would be even more relevant. If applicants can show that they have made conscious choices and individual creativity in their activities they are more likely to be considered.

One of the most successful strategies for achieving a place in physiotherapy courses is to get a job as a physiotherapy assistant in a hospital. This allows direct experience of the work in the profession of physiotherapy and advice and consultation is always available from senior physiotherapists. Day to day work in close cooperation with different physiotherapists in different clinical areas allows a clear view of the profession of physiotherapy to be formed. This carries through in the attitude and confidence of the person and they can have a useful addition to their CV.

To make the best of the application process the applicant has to pay close attention to managing this and the interview. The customer, it has to be remembered, is the university and they are searching for people with rounded personalities who can both state what they want to achieve and give clear examples of what they have done already to get to their goal. If the panel cannot see a convincing history of achievement and training relevant to the application they may consider that the applicant has not fully considered what they are applying for.

Most physiotherapists work in NHS hospitals with a wide variety of patients with illnesses, pain and disability and others work privately with musculoskeletal conditions. Only a very small number work with sports people and sports injuries and it is wise not to emphasise that in the application. Since 99% of more of physiotherapy is not related to sports at all, a concentration on the desire to pursue a career in sports physiotherapy might make a panel doubt a person's commitment.

Most health conditions which present to physiotherapists in normal practice are nothing to do with sports and are predominantly the health problems of elderly people who present the great majority of consultations. It will be some years before a physiotherapist can normally concentrate on the treatment of sports injuries as most physiotherapists go through a rotational system over the first few years.

Jonathan Blood Smyth is the Superintendent of Physiotherapy at an NHS hospital in the South-West of the UK. He writes articles about back pain, neck pain, and injury management. If you are looking for physiotherapists in Brighton visit his website.

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