3 Careers in Therapy for Recent Graduates
People that are passionate about their field have a few options available to them after they graduate. A recent graduate with a physical therapy degree may seek assistant-level job positions before becoming a therapist. Prepare for advancement in your career by climbing the career ladder in physical therapy.
Web MD, and many other experts, define a physical therapist as someone that is a health specialist that evaluates and treats disorders of the human body. School taught you all the basics that you need to know. Hands-on experience is your next step in the process. If you were lucky, you were able to start out working as an intern during your time at school, or maybe even as an aide. Becoming an assistant to a therapist is a goal that you need to work towards. Outlined below is the common career path in the physical therapy field for fresh graduates.
Intern-To be an intern you only need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. This is a great place to start when you are fresh out of high school. Of course, the higher your education level is, the more likely you are to land this type of job. You will be responsible for determining the source of the pain within patients and doing whatever type of therapy is needed to fix it. You will improve movements within the patient by using various techniques to loosen up the area of trouble. You learn as you go with a hands-on approach. Even though you have your degree this is a good steppingstone to get yourself known in the field. It also allows you to learn real-world applications of the information that you learned while in school.
Assistant- An assistant to the therapist will provide operational help, as well as support in the administrative roles. A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum educational level that is offered these types of positions. This role can be compared to a nurse in the medical field. You will be doing hands-on work with patients after the therapist has completed their session. This means you will help with cooling the patient down, such as massage or heat therapy. You may also be asked to help warm the patient up with various stretches and movements and assist them if needed. The role of a physical therapy assistant also focuses on clerical tasks such as scheduling patient appointments and recording insurance information. Assistants may answer phone calls that come in that involve questions or concerns. You may even have to take the salespeople that come in attempting to sell new equipment. As the assistant, you will be expected to know everything that the physical therapist knows, as well as everything that the front-end employees know.
Aide- In this role you will help the therapist, and their assistant, in any task that is needed. Most of the time you will be preparing rooms for patients and getting the people into the correct areas after they check-in for their appointments. Unlike the assistant, you are not hands-on. You do the jobs outside of the actual therapy tasks. Many times, you will be required to complete the secretarial tasks and work the front end when needed. Ordering supplies will fall onto your shoulders. You will also have the task of filling out any insurance forms that will be involved with the care of a patient. Forms that are faxed in from outside sources, such as disability or workers compensation groups, will be a job left for you as well.
There are many pathways that you can take after you graduate from school. The three top fields listed above are in high demand now, and they give you direct patient experience that will allow you to move up into your own practice someday if that is your final goal.
It is always a good idea to start at the bottom within your field because then you learn every aspect of the business from top to bottom. You might have luck opening your own practice straight out of school if the area you are setting up in has a high demand for therapists. If you choose this route, you will need a solid business plan and you will have to learn how to market your business. Find a mentor in the field is well established and has worked with a variety of patients. Work and learn from them to help you climb the career ladder in therapy.