The field of physical therapy is similar to any other medical discipline. There are physical therapy jobs for clinical practitioners as well as nursing or technician staff and support positions like nursing assistants and administrative workers. In physical therapy offices there are Physical Therapists, physical therapy assistants and physical therapy aides. Each of these physical therapy jobs requires a different level of education and comes with distinct job duties and responsibilities.
Descriptions For Physical Therapy Jobs
Physical Therapists are doctors and as such have the primary responsibility for patient care in a physical therapy practice. They are additionally responsible for supervising the activities of all other workers in the practice.
Physical therapy assistants report directly to Physical Therapists and perform all their work according to the specifications and direction of the Physical Therapist. Often, but not always, physical therapy aides report to a senior level physical therapy assistant rather than directly to the Physical Therapist, though they may take direction from multiple staff members in the practice.
While physical therapy aides may perform job duties at the direction of various other individuals, the Physical Therapist is their formal manager. In other words, the Physical Therapist holds ultimate responsibility for everything that happens at the physical therapy practice, including all activities of all physical therapy assistants and physical therapy aides.
Physical Therapy Practices
Physical therapy jobs can be found in a number of different medical venues. Many students who think of working in the physical therapy field mistakenly think that the majority of Physical Therapists, assistants and aides work in private practices. Private practice Physical Therapist positions are actually fourth on the list of the most common jobs in physical therapy available. More therapists work in hospitals, nursing homes and home health care than in private practice.
Physical therapy practices can be found in many different locations. The basic job duties and responsibilities of Physical Therapists remain the same regardless of the location in which they are found; however, there are some tasks which will vary from one physical therapy practice to the next. Following are some of the most common areas in which physical therapy jobs can be found and details of the positions available.
- Home Health Care
The largest number of physical therapy jobs in the employment market is found in home health care services. Physical Therapists who work in home health provide therapy and support for patients with functional disabilities and physical challenges. Patients may be elderly individuals trying to maintain their mobility. Or they may be people with chronic illnesses or degenerative diseases.Home health Physical Therapists visit patients in their homes and also commonly see patients in physical therapy offices. They provide treatment sessions in the home and/or the office. They also assist patients in learning to perform everyday activities.
- Nursing Facilities
Physical Therapists in nursing care facilities provide treatments to residents who are physically challenged due to age, illness or other infirmities. The medical care provided is patient specific, based on the individual needs and challenges of the patient. The primary responsibility in a physical therapy job is to develop a treatment plan and determine the appropriate techniques for promoting range of movement, pain reduction, and restoration of function and prevention of disability for patients.
Physical therapy jobs in hospitals generally deal with patients who are recovering from a serious acute illness or injury. They may need assistance getting back to normal after a surgical procedure, accident or a serious illness which has decreased mobility or functionality. Heart attack, stroke and car accident survivors are just a few examples of the patients that hospital Physical Therapists help.
- Physician Offices
Many physical therapy jobs are found in physicians’ offices. These positions may be in dedicated physical therapy offices or may be part-time jobs in other kinds of medical practices. Physical Therapists often spend a day or two a week in different medical practices providing care for patients who see other physicians in the same office for a variety of reasons.
There are physical therapy jobs in occupational health and other types of clinics. Occupational Physical Therapists often treat patients who have experienced a work-related injury or illness that has limited mobility or otherwise affected the individual’s ability to function normally on a daily basis.
Specific Duties of Physical Therapy Jobs
The duties and responsibilities of physical therapy jobs may vary a bit from one practice to the next; however, most of the goals and tasks remain the same no matter where a Physical Therapist may work. The main responsibilities of the Physical Therapist include patient evaluation & assessment, and development of an appropriate treatment plan.
In some instances, a Physical Therapist will work directly with patients in completing therapy sessions. Physical Therapists usually hand off much of the treatment of patients to a physical therapy assistant. The Physical Therapist evaluates the results of patient treatment protocols and makes adjustments as needed.
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