You can compare your career in physical therapy to climbing a tree. Everyone begins at the same trunk, but then you are in position where you have to make decisions pretty quickly on which way you’re going to go.

This is when you decide:

  • what kind of people do you want to work with
  • the location you want to practice in
  • consider how far up “the tree” do you want to climb

You’ll even start to not just grow professionally where you are learning more, getting better clinically, and even improving your sales and business skills, but you’ll get a chance to grow personally.

What Kind of People Do You Want to Work With?
You will be able to pick the kind of people you want to work to help in your practice-

  • Sports Physical Therapists work with athletes- helping them recover from injuries and improve performance through exercise and hands-on techniques
  • Geriatric Physical Therapists work with elderly patients on mobility problems- pain or managing chronic conditions
  • Pediatric Physical Therapists work with infants and children providing developmental assessments and helping them improve their gross motor skills.

The Location You Want To Practice In
You get to pick where you work. As a physical therapist you can find jobs in nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics and schools. Physical therapists provide care wherever people need it. So far, we’ve only mentioned the more common places you’ll find PTs – if you want to specialize further, you may find yourself working only in the ICU with critical care patients, in a factory doing industrial rehabilitation and ergonomics, in a women’s health clinic, or even working in a preventative, public health role.

Growing professionally
Most physical therapy careers start in a general role, where you are working with all types of different patients. If you work within a large health system, then it is likely that you’ll rotate between settings. However as you find the type of people you like to work with and the setting you prefer, you will get the option to improve your skills and focus on a specialty area of practice. There are a lot of options on how to do this. You could:
•    Take an internship position or join a fellowship program
•    Attend workshops or conferences
•    Read journals and textbooks
•    Collaborate with your colleagues and mentors
•    Take courses in other areas of medicine
•    Study abroad or take courses online

Growing personally
Your clinical skills aren’t the only thing a career in physical therapy can grow though – you’ll grow personally as well. You have to learn to have compassion and empathy when you work with ill or injured people. You have to work as a part of a team. You need sales skills – most people aren’t going to want to make changes in their routines, or do the exercises you prescribe at home. You’ll learn to work with people who have different opinions and different viewpoints from all kinds of cultures and backgrounds.

You may also have a chance to improve your business skills. You could advance out of the clinical setting and into a management role. Some PTs start their own practices, or a company in a field related to physical therapy like wellness, performance, injury prevention or population health for large corporations.

Practice Advisors 360 is the nation’s leading dentistry advisory company. Contact us today at (844) 360-8360 or visit us online at