Physical Therapist

David Solis Period 7/8

About career

  • Diagnose patients, set up a plan for their patients, outlining the patient's goals and the planned treatments. Use exercises, and equipment to ease patients’ pain and to help them increase their ability to move. Evaluate progress, modify treatment plan. Educate patients and families about what to expect during recovery and how to cope with what happens.
  • Most physical therapists work full time.
  • Physical therapists typically work in private offices and clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. They spend much of their time on their feet, being active.


Physical Therapists


Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners


Total, All Occupations



Physical therapy programs often include courses in bio mechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapy students also complete clinical rotations, enabling them to gain supervised work experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care. Doctoral programs typically last 3 years; MPT programs require 2 to 3 years of study. Most programs, either DPT or MPT, require a bachelor’s degree for admission, and many require specific prerequisites, such as anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry.

Skills Required

  • Assess and review all systems of the body as needed to determine the need for physical therapy, and the scope of therapy needed as well as the patient's limitations.
  • Perform tests to characterize and quantify range of motion, sensory integrity (sharp/dull, hot/cold, pressure, vibration, etc), neuromotor skills, and reflexes.
  • Clinical reasoning and decision-making to determine a diagnosis (what's wrong with the patient) and prognosis (will the patient improve, how much, and when)

  • Use goal-setting skills to set a plan of care in action
  • First-Aid, CPR, safety, in case of emergency
  • Use of orthotics, prosthetics, walkers, wheelchairs, and other supportive devices
  • Manual therapy, tissue massage, traction, and manipulation
  • Communication skills for patient/family education, consultations with other health professionals
  • Practice Management skills such as billing & coding for proper reimbursement, documentation of medical records, supervising staff such as physical therapy assistants, and quality improvement
  • Professional skills and values such as accountability, integrity, compassion, responsibility

Job Outlook/ Growth

Percent change in employment, projected 2010-20

Physical Therapists


Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners


Total, All Occupations


Advancement Opportunities or Related Jobs

Occupational therapists - treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.

Chiropractors - treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal manipulation and other techniques to treat patients' ailments, such as back or neck pain.