Working as a physical therapist is a great career choice. Physical therapists help people improve movement, balance and strength. Knowing this makes working as a therapist in any setting fulfilling. If you’ve ever considered working as a school-based physical therapist, it can offer even more rewards.
If you have worked in a hospital or rehab center as a physical therapist, you know that the hours may vary. 12-hour shifts are common and weekends and holidays are also often required. School-based physical therapists work during the school day, which usually involves an eight-hour shift. In most cases, therapists do not work weekends.
Depending on what setting your worked in the past, you might have mostly treated people with certain types of injuries or disabilities. If you worked in a skilled nursing facility, you might have treated older adults who had strokes or arthritis. As a school-based physical therapist, you may work with children of various ages with a wide variety of disabilities and challenges. You may work with children with neuromuscular disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and developmental delays.
Hospitals and nursing homes may make cuts to their therapy schedule to save money. Federal laws require that children with special needs receive therapy in school including physical therapy when appropriate. Although the availability of jobs for physical therapists in schools may vary, laws regarding therapy for children provide some job security to therapists.
School-based physical therapists usually follow the same schedule as teachers. They work when school is in session. Although school schedules vary and some schools are year-round, many students and teachers have summers off. Having a long summer vacation is a nice perk for therapists, and can be used for continuing education requirements.
You’ll Work as a Team
As a school-based physical therapist, you will work with others including occupational therapists, special needs teachers, and school counselors. Working in a collaborative environment provides the support that helps therapists succeed.
You See Progress
Therapists working in a hospital or rehab center may see their patients progress, but school-based physical therapists often work with children for a longer period. PT’s may work with the same children for the entire school year and beyond. It provides an opportunity for these clinicians to get to know their clients and see how far they have come.
It’s not often at work that you get the chance to dance, laugh, and play games. School-based physical therapists may use different games and activities to provide therapy. Working with children is often uplifting and maybe even fun!
You’ll Make a Difference
Physical therapists often make a difference regardless of the setting they work, but helping young people overcome challenges can be especially rewarding. Therapists can work on gait, posture, and balance. They may help children gain strength, reduce pain, and improve flexibility. Making strides does not only improve a child’s physical well-being, but it can optimize functioning, foster a sense of independence, and improve a child’s overall life.
Physical therapists who work with children have the chance to see children flourish and overcome obstacles. It can be fulfilling to know that you had a role in helping a young person reach their potential.