Some of us apply to PT school knowing exactly what area of practice we want to enter, others develop a passion for certain areas while we are in school, and some of us have no idea what we want to do when we graduate. These are all normal feelings to have, but at NewGradPT we are here to help.
Areas of Physical Therapy Specialization
There are many ways for a physical therapist to specialize their practice. Physical therapists can go through residency or fellowship training, they can build up years of experience in one area of practice, they can take continuing education courses, or they can become a researcher. All of the following practice areas offer residency programs which allow a physical therapist to specialize in a particular area of practice.
• Acute Care
• Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
• Women’s Health (and Men’s)
• Wound Care
Benefits of Specializing
Specializing in an area of practice can be very rewarding. First and foremost, if you are specializing in an area of practice, it’s probably because you enjoy working with that population and find it rewarding.
Negatives with Specializing
As a new grad we may shy away from specializing too soon, because we don’t know exactly what we want to do with our careers. The fear of backing ourselves into a corner can be terrifying. While you can always change the path your career is on, if you choose to specialize in a specific practice area and change your mind the transition can be difficult. Some clinicians may argue that no matter what population you work with, every patient has bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, so as long as you have a basic understanding of all practice areas, you should be able to transition from setting to setting and hold your own. While I agree with this statement somewhat, I think the reality is if you have been primarily handling a case load that consists of pediatric patients with an emphasis on neurological disorders for the last 5 years, stepping into a sports or orthopedics setting to evaluate the running mechanics of a competitive marathon runner can be very intimidating (and personally speaking the reverse of that scenario applies as well). Other negatives with specializing within a particular field is that the repetitiveness can be a little boring. They say variety is the spice of life, and there is nothing wrong with getting a little variation in your daily routine.
Should New Grads Specialize?
The correct answer is….well it depends. What works for me as a clinician may not necessarily work for you.
Still not sure? Make sure to check back for more content regarding specialization. The writer’s at NGPT will delve deeper into each specialty and provide you with a clinician’s perspective.