Physical therapy is both a challenging and rewarding career. Some personalities are better suited to it than others. Below, we cover some of the pros and cons to consider before you invest time and money in becoming a physical therapist. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but it’s better to be well informed before you make a decision that affects the rest of your life.
Physical therapists treat patients suffering from degenerative illnesses, grievous bodily injury, or even simple physical damages and breakages. It’s about helping people, and healing others. That makes it an appealing vocation for those who want to give something back to their community, and it’s a great way to help a wide range of people. You’ll work with other medical practitioners, often doing post-op surgery rehabilitation, and get to help relieve people of their pain and suffering.
Because there is a high demand for physical therapists, and so many different venues in which to practice your craft, you will never want for opportunities to work as a physical therapist. Not only that, but because physical therapists are needed in different parts of the country, and for different reasons, it is entirely possible to make a very lucrative living as a physical therapist if you go where you are most needed.
Even if you don’t take advantage of “scouting” rates – higher rates offered by regions who have a higher demand for, and lower percentage of physical therapists – you can still make a good living as a physical therapist. The average earning for physical therapists in general practice is about $74,000 a year according to Salary.com. For newcomers, that rate tends to be closer to $60,000 a year, but for an experienced individual working in a hospital or clinical environment, the earnings top $86,000 a year. And that’s just general practice. Specialized practitioners earn higher wages and have their pick of postings because of their more focused knowledge.
The educational requirements for becoming a physical therapist can be prohibitive in terms of cost and the investment of time necessary. You will need the appropriate Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees to be able to qualify for the National Physical Therapy Examination and the two State licensing exams required before you can legally practice.
You will also need to renew your license every two years, and you will need to study on an ongoing basis to keep up with changes to the treatments, legal ramifications, and other pertinent information associated with being a physical therapist.
And there is one more important factor of a disadvantageous nature to be considered. Patients who undergo serious injury or chronic illness, degenerative or otherwise, commonly suffer from paranoia, depression, anger, and other psychological deteriorations. Dealing with these factors day in and day out over the course of your practice can lead to what is known as early burnout. It affects individuals in many medical professions, and is directly related to how deeply you internalize your patients’ pain.
While no one expects you to behave in anything other than a human fashion, you will have to exercise compassion without being consumed by the pain your patients feel. This is not always easy, and it means you will need patience, compassion, a good communicative ability, and a real willingness to help those who cannot help themselves.
As can be seen from the above, being a physical therapist certainly has its advantages and disadvantages. It is also a career that demands a certain kind of personality. If in spite of the disadvantages outlined above physical therapy is still the right career for you, then use the rest of this website to figure out how to go ahead with your dream, and good luck to you!