Physical Therapy Job Responsibilities

Physical therapists use exercise as a means of improving quality of life for those with medical conditions and injuries that affect movement and function. Physical therapists have many job responsibilities, including:

  • Managing and preventing medical conditions that affect movement/functionality
  • Observing movements to understand a patient’s condition and needs
  • Creating treatment plans to improve function, reduce pain, and preserve mobility
  • Treating patients patients through stretch, exercise, hands on therapy and equipment
  • Evaluating progress and make modifications
  • Educating patients and caregivers on conditions and what to expect

Last Updated 3/15/2021

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Physical Therapy Specializations

  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports
  • Women’s Health

Where Physical Therapists Work

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings. Most work normal business hours- only one in five work part time. The most common settings, according to 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, are as follows:

  • Therapist offices 33%
  • Hospitals 26%
  • Home health 11%
  • Self-employed 8%
  • Residential care 6%

Physical Therapist Qualities

Possessing the following qualities will help you become a successful physical therapist:

  • Lifelong learner- physical therapy is a broad field that intersects with many facets of medicine. There is far more to learn within the field than can be learned during a 3 year. DPT program. It is also a field of continuous advancements. One needs to have an appetite for learning to continue to stay on top of the latest knowledge.
  • Critical thinking- physical therapists need to rely on themselves to come up with the right treatment plans for their patients. They must be able to give serious thought into evaluating patient needs and making the right decisions on treatment. They must always make sure to make treatment decisions based on evidence.
  • Service-oriented- physical therapy is a profession where you work with patients directly to help them and improve their lives. It is good to be someone who finds fulfillment in helping others.
  • Adaptable- As mentioned before, physical therapy is an evidence-based field where knowledge of best practices continues to grow. A physical therapist must be able to adapt to new practices and to the unique needs of specific patients.
  • Collaborative- Physical therapists work with a myriad of other health professionals to help patients be their healthiest selves. PTs must be able to get along with others in interprofessional practice.
  • Teaching- Often, what patients get out of physical therapy goes far beyond weekly sessions. PTs need to teach their patients what to do every day in order to live their healthiest lives, maximize their mobility, and reduce their pain.