If you’re planning a career in medicine, one of the most attractive options is to train and qualify as a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists work in many different areas and settings, with a broad variety of different kinds of patient, so you are able to define your career for yourself while following your interests and issues you are passionate about.
Today we’re breaking down the hows and whys to show you why it’s a great choice of career, whether you’re fifteen and just starting to make plans for the future, or a professional looking for a new lease of life in a new career.
Before you can start looking for physiotherapy jobs you will need to qualify and register as a physio. Many universities offer three year courses recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) – note that in Scotland four years of study is required. If you already have a degree, or relevant experience, you may find you qualify for accelerated courses that cut this down to only two years.
There are also part time programmes that allow you to integrate your studies with work over a longer period, so needing to support yourself is no bar to eventually gaining a qualification.
What is Physiotherapy?
After qualification you can start to find jobs in the field, which cover a lot of ground. Wherever you end up working, the main job of a physio is to provide education and advice, recommend movement therapies and exercises and perform some manual therapies.
In practice, this means educating your patients to avoid injuries (more realistically, avoid repeating injuries) – recommending safe ways to exercise and perform manual tasks. In a specific example, a patient suffering from back pain may be given advice about good posture as it relates to their job.
Recommending exercise can come in the form of advice, or more authoritative referral to other specialists. Someone who requires more core strength to avoid straining muscles may simply be given some recommended lifts and stretches, whereas someone dealing with a more serious injury could be referred to a hydrotherapy centre for more treatment.
Finally, manual therapies involve a hands on manipulation of the patient and massage to relieve pains and stretch constricted muscles.
The joy of pursuing physio as a career is that it gives you the chance for a huge amount of variety. Whether you work within the NHS or privately, people from every walk of life need physio at some stage and this allows you to create a career you feel really passionate about. You can work to support people with sports injuries – even graduating to work as an inhouse physio for a major sports team.
You can also work with children or the elderly, or use your experience to manage more junior physiotherapists who need your guidance and advice.