Physical therapy may not be all sunshine and roses all the time, but it sure is a fantastic profession! Whether you’re into Valentine’s Day or not, we think that February 14th is a lovely opportunity to honor the fabulous profession that is physical therapy 🙂 Here are 14 reasons to love physical therapy!
1. Awesome coworkers
You simply cannot find better coworkers than therapists. We mean physical and occupational therapists, of course 🙂 Intelligent and driven, we kind-hearted healthcare professionals dedicate many years of our own lives to rigorous educational programs, for the sole purpose of improving others’ lives. Really, is there anyone else with whom you’d prefer to work?
Seriously, though. I’ve worked in a number of jobs over the years, and you simply cannot beat the camaraderie, support, and laughter enjoyed in a physical therapy environment. There always seems to be someone around who would love to mentor you, and someone else who would love to learn some of the newest PT techniques from you.
2. Work flexibility
The PT profession is widely regarded as extremely flexible. Very few career paths afford employees the option to choose part-time or per diem schedules. Even those careers that do offer flexible scheduling rarely provide the pay bump option that per diem physical therapists enjoy.
Want to travel the world? Per diem physical therapists can work as little as one day per month in some facilities. You could take a 3 week trip to Italy, then come home and still have a job that pays well.
3. Staying fit
Other than that dreadful, yet delightful, time around the holidays (when chocolates and cookies are piled to the ceiling), PTs have a unique opportunity to use their time at work to become more fit. From performing planks alongside patients to using the clinic treadmill during lunch breaks, physical therapists have a pretty difficult time making excuses for bailing on exercise. Even if you’re not a workout fanatic, simply being on your feet throughout the day makes you far less susceptible forward head posture, tight hip flexors, kyphosis, and the like.
The added benefit of having your aforementioned awesome coworkers is that they’re likely pretty active people. Want to train for a 10k? You won’t have to look far for a running buddy.
4. Specialization opportunities
Physical therapy is an exciting career, and PTs can truly pursue endless specialization paths and physical therapy certifications. From sports, to pediatrics, to canine therapy, PTs can carve their career paths around their favorite patient populations and passions. The most exciting aspect of our field is that many of these specializations are still in their infancy, meaning that we PTs can actually play a role in the future of how our field evolves.
Specialization is a commitment, so check out our article to find out when it’s the right time to go down that path.
5. Career alternatives
For those therapists who cannot continue treating patients, or simply do not want to, there are plenty of career options. Trying to get out of patient care can seem a little daunting, but quite a few companies are stoked to have a physical therapist on their staff. From medical device sales to healthcare copywriting, physical therapists have a plethora of non-clinical options available to them.
If you’re one of those folks looking for a change, check out our article about transitioning out of patient care!
6. Ample respect
Who doesn’t love a career where they can call the shots? Physical therapists enjoy a level of autonomy rarely found in the healthcare world. At the same time, those kick-ass coworkers are always willing to help out when a complex case walks in the door.
That said, respect is earned, and does not come automatically, simply because you’re called “doctor.” If you want to be treated as the authority on musculoskeletal dysfunction, make sure you stay up-to-date on your anatomy and research.
7. Direct access
Many states are allowing patients to see their physical therapists for evaluations, without visiting a primary care physician beforehand. While this means that we therapists must be even more attuned to medical red flags than ever, it also affords us the opportunity to provide timely care to patients who may have needed to wait an unnecessarily long time for PT in the past. A patient or friend with an ankle sprain can now see you within hours, rather than waiting as long as weeks or months in the past.
As we know, the sooner an injury is addressed, the better!
8. Rad patients
I’m not going to pretend that I’ve woken up chomping at the bit to see every single patient I’ve ever treated. At the same time, those memorable patients, whose lives were positively impacted by their time in PT, have left a lasting impression on me. Some of my former patients have become close friends, and many others have simply brightened my days during the time I treated them.
Other practitioners miss out on the opportunity to spend the amount of time with their patients that we enjoy, so don’t take it for granted!
9. Dress code
Most physical therapists enjoy a life free from dress shoes and crisply ironed shirts. Sweet, sweet freedom! I know there are men and women out there who enjoy wearing fancy shoes, suits, dresses, and ties to work. That ain’t most of us, though! We’re the lucky ones, striding into work in comfy workout clothes, scrubs, or khakis and sneakers 🙂
If your job does require you to wear slacks and a white coat, embrace it! Patients may be more likely to adhere to your HEP if you’re dressed to the nines…
10. Job opportunities
Physical therapy is a rapidly growing profession. As the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers looms on the horizon, physical therapists enjoy ample job opportunities to help rehab these patients as they undergo joint replacements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that physical therapy is poised to grow 34% faster than other professions, over the next 8 years. Bask in the possibilities and know that you’ll rarely find a shortage of work in our field!
11. Unlimited locations
Unlike some professions, physical therapists can work pretty much anywhere. There are programs to help physical therapists gain licensure in other countries, and there are even programs within the United States that offer generous financial compensation to attract PTs to unusual locations, such as Alaska. For those physical therapists with adventurous spirits, there is literally a world of options to choose from.
12. Growth opportunities
Some professions offer no opportunities for professional growth. Not physical therapy! A savvy and motivated PT can choose to open his/her own clinic, become a supervisor or director of rehab, teach at a local university of PT school, or even create continuing education classes. Entrepreneurial physical therapists can open cash-pay practices, skirting around the oh-so-fun experience of dealing with Medicare paperwork.
13. Reasonable hours
Unlike physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and even physician assistants, physical therapists rarely have to work outside the hours of 7AM and 8PM. While we often wind up working weekends and holidays, those typically come with a pay bump and allow flexibility to take time off during a weekday in exchange.
14. Job satisfaction
Physical therapists certainly have bad days, but they’re rare. PTs have one of the highest job satisfaction rates around. Year after year, physical therapy ranks in the top 25 jobs for categories like job satisfaction, flexibility and pay. The year’s US News and World Report again places physical therapy in that list, at number 14 out of America’s Top 100 Jobs.