Eight Ways to Enhance Your Skills as a School-Based Physical Therapist

by Howard Gerber on July 27, 2017

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physical therapy skillsIf you’re working as a school-based physical therapist, you want to do the best job possible to help your students reach their academic potential. But have you reached your full potential as a therapist? Even good school-based therapists can find ways to improve and enhance their skills. Consider some of the following ways you can become an even better physical therapist. 

Become board certified.

The American Board of Physical Therapist Specialties offers board certification in pediatrics. To become certified, therapists need to complete an application, pay the certification fee, and pass an exam.

Build strong relationships with your clients.

The difference between a good school-based physical therapist and an excellent one is their ability to build a strong foundation with their clients. School-based therapy is different than working in a hospital. You work with your clients for an extended time. Students and parents need to trust their PT. Developing a strong rapport with children and their families does not mean you overstep your role. Instead, it involves knowing your clients and understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

Recognize when you don’t know something.

Regardless of how long you have been a physical therapist, there are always things to learn. If you don’t have the answer to something, don’t fake your way through the situation. Do your research or consult with colleagues to find the answers.

Get involved in a professional association.

Professional physical therapy associations are a great resource for education. Organizations, such as the American Physical Therapy Association and state PT organizations, hold workshops and offer continuing education classes. Professional organizations also have opportunities for networking and job leads.

Consider learning a foreign language.

Depending on what area of the country you practice in, learning a foreign language may be helpful. Some communities are more diverse than others. But whether you choose Spanish, Mandarin, or Russian, learning a second language will come in handy at some point in your career.

Take leadership courses.

Leadership courses are often offered through community colleges and professional organizations. Physical therapists working in a school setting usually work as part of a team with occupational and speech therapists, as well as teachers and school counselors. Leadership seminars help you develop the skills needed to collaborate successfully. Leadership courses are designed to teach team building skills, decision making and enhance communication.

Never stop learning.

Stay current in the field of physical therapy. Look for ways to improve your knowledge of school-based therapy, such as talking with colleagues in the field, reading trade journals, or taking classes. Medicine including physical therapy continues to evolve. New technology and information are always changing the way you may do your job.

Don’t lose your compassion.

It’s easy to get caught up in developing treatment plans, charting and completing the many tasks you do as a school-based PT. With large caseloads and busy days, burnout hits some therapists. Make sure you find time to relax and unwind. Also, don’t forget why you went into the field. Hold on to your compassion and empathy.

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