8 Misconceptions About Working as a School-based Physical Therapist

by Howard Gerber on December 28, 2017

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myths about school physical therapyPhysical therapists often start their career working in a hospital or nursing home. Another career option is working as a school-based therapist with children. If you have not worked as a school-based physical therapist, you might not be sure what to expect. Separating the misconceptions from facts can help you decide if school-based therapy is right for you.

Myth: Working with children in a school setting is easier than a hospital.

Reality: Working as a school-based physical therapist is not harder or easier than working in a hospital. All settings have their challenges and rewards. School-based therapists are part of the team that develops an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students. Therapists also develop treatment plans and implement many of the same therapy strategies they use in other settings. 

Myth: You’re on your own as a school-based PT.

Reality: In a hospital, you often have other physical therapists, nurses, and technicians on site for advice and help. School-based therapists are also not on their own. Physical therapists in a school often work in a collaborative environment with occupational and speech therapists, as well as teachers and aides.

Myth: Physical therapy in a school setting is monotonous.

Reality: Regardless of what setting you work in, physical therapy is far from a boring profession. Working in a school-setting may bring something different every day. Some days you’ll participate in IEP meetings, meet with teachers and staff, and develop treatment plans. You also have the opportunity to treat children with all types of challenges, and of all ages.

Myth: Pay is low for school-based physical therapists

Reality: Although most physical therapists probably did not choose their career based solely on earning potential, salary does matter. Salaries for therapists vary based on location and experience. School-based physical therapist’s salaries are comparable to other settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home care. According to a survey by payscale.com, school-based physical therapists earned an average of about $64,000 a year in 2016.

Myth: There are no opportunities for advancement if you work as a school PT.

Reality: Advancement opportunities are similar for physical therapists in most settings. School-based therapists can advance by becoming a lead therapist or moving into management.

Myth: School-based physical therapists mostly work with children who have congenital birth defects.

Reality: Physical therapists in a school setting work with children with all types of challenges, not just congenital birth defects. Therapists often work with students with conditions, such as spinal bifida, amputations, and neurological disorders.

Myth: You are buried in paperwork as a school therapist.

Reality: Unfortunately, paperwork is part of the job for physical therapists regardless of the setting they work. Hospitals and other facilities often require just as much documentation and paperwork as a school.

Myth: School physical therapists have high caseloads.

Reality: Caseloads for school-based therapists vary greatly, and it’s difficult to state what an “average” workload involves. Usually, you keep the same caseload for the entire academic year. As you learn what therapy techniques work with each student, caseloads may be even easier to manage.

Hopefully, by learning the reality about working as a school-based physical therapist, you have a clearer picture of what the job involves. If you already work as a school-based physical therapist, please leave a comment and let us know if you had any misconceptions about working in a school setting.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

living Thearpy 09.27.18 at 4:13 pm

The Physical therapy for a children in a school setting is very important to protect the life save and healthy ,this is also helpful in the growth of children banes and also strong because the physical activities are the need of life for a children if you want to protect the life of children save and healthy then you must allow your children to get participate in the physical activities coming in the school ,otherwise the bones of your children will be week day by day with the passage of time and at the end pain are start in the bones of your children .


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