As a physiotherapist, you’ll take a scientific approach to health and wellbeing. You’ll help people recover from injuries or operations, or relieve them of the difficulties they face through ageing or disability.
You’ll see people’s lives improve before your eyes, as they progress through the treatment you give them.
As a physiotherapist, you’ll focus on maximising the movement of your patients to improve their health and wellbeing. You’ll make people’s lives easier as they use your expertise to learn to deal with:
You’ll meet patients on a daily basis. Depending on each individual’s needs, you might recommend exercises, carry out massages, use high-tech ultrasound equipment, and possibly even hydrotherapy pools.
Once a patient’s mobility problem has been diagnosed, you'll work with them to agree a treatment plan. You'll also promote good health and advise people on how to avoid further injury.
You might work alone or as part of a team, but you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to places to work.
What are the pay and conditions like?
Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours and may include a mix of shifts, such as nights, early starts, evenings, and weekends.
You will be able to claim £2,000 a year towards childcare costs through the NHS Learning Support Fund, and there’s funding available for adult dependants and some placement travel costs too. If you have a disability, there are grants to help with essential costs via the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
You'll also have access to one of the best pension schemes in the UK, as well as access to exclusive health service discounts and benefits at some of the most popular brands.
Where you could be working?
Physiotherapists are needed in nearly every hospital department, such as outpatients, women’s health, paediatrics, and occupational health.
Physiotherapy is also provided in the local community. You could be based in a health centre and might treat patients in their own homes, day centres, nursing homes or schools.
What are your career development opportunities?
You’ll receive an annual personal development review to ensure you’re making the most of every opportunity offered. And with continuous professional development, you can add to your skills and progress to specialist roles with a higher pay grade. You’ll also be encouraged to join the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy where you’ll be able to continually update your skills and training.
As a physiotherapist, you could specialise in an area such as sports injuries, critical care, or work with the elderly, children or cancer patients. Teaching, research, and management roles are other options.
Outside the NHS, you could work with sports coaches or personal trainers, be based in a clinic or open your own practice.
As a physiotherapist, you will need to be a good communicator who can be hands-on and give simple explanations of conditions and treatments to clients.
It’s vital to have a good chat and get as much information about your clients’ injuries and conditions as possible, so that you can provide the best level of care. That means you need to be both a good communicator and a good listener.
Are you a confident person?
Many physiotherapists work independently. They rely on their own expertise to make calls on how to fix their patients’ problems. You must be confident in your own ability to make those decisions. These will make every bit of difference when it comes to getting a positive outcome for your patients.
Can you adapt?
Being able to adapt to new situations is a vital part of becoming a physiotherapist. You will be presented with patients who suffer from a wide range of problems. Being able to switch from one to the other – and provide tailored advice for each individual – is crucial.
You could be asked to treat someone who has been involved in a traumatic car accident and needs help in their recovery. You may also see patients suffering with long-term mental or physical conditions. Your knowledge and ability to adapt will be key in giving all patients the best level of care.
Are you a patient person?
Patience is important for most people who work in healthcare. But it is vital for those looking to work in physiotherapy. Just as it is for those receiving treatment. Many patients who go for a consultation with a physiotherapist will be at the start of a long road to recovery. You’re there to be understanding when that gets frustrating.
Are you a team player?
As a physiotherapist, you will often have to consult with other medical professionals to find the best way forward for your patients. Doing this quickly and efficiently relies on your ability to communicate with other people outside of your own field. This isn’t always easy in fast-paced and stressful environments. Physiotherapists will benefit from building and maintaining strong professional relationships with their peers.
Do you have a good level of fitness?
As a physiotherapist you would need to have a good level of physical fitness to meet the job’s demands and support the people you are working with.
A university degree is the most popular way to become a physiotherapist. A full-time degree can take three years and a part-time course will take six years. A two-year accelerated master’s course is also an option if you already have a relevant degree.
Once you’ve successfully completed your degree you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practising.
Entry requirements for an undergraduate degree include:
two or three A levels, including a biological science and/or PE
five GCSEs (grades A – C), including English language, maths, and at least one science
Or the equivalent qualifications:
a BTEC, HND or HNC, including biological science
a relevant NVQ
a science-based Access course
equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications.
a previous degree or a full practising qualification in a related area
Each university sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check with them directly.
In most cases, the results of an interview and other selection processes are considered, as well as academic qualifications. It’s also a good idea to spend some time with a registered physiotherapist to get some first-hand experience of what the role’s really like.
Applying with a degree apprenticeship
A degree apprenticeship with a healthcare provider is another way to become a physiotherapist. Apprenticeships give you the chance to earn a living while gaining your qualification.
Occupational therapists empower people to overcome the difficulties they face with living independently. They improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities, illnesses, traumas, ageing, and long-term conditions.