A physiotherapist is a licensed health care professional who helps people overcome physical disabilities, injuries, and illnesses. He or she designs and conducts patient-specific rehabilitation programs so that individuals can regain strength, learn to care for themselves, and return to work. A person who wants to get started in a physiotherapy career must be prepared to complete a master's or doctoral degree program from an accredited physiotherapy school, pass licensing exams in his or her state or country, and complete an internship that may last up to one year after graduation.
A high school student who wants to eventually obtain a physiotherapy career can prepare by taking advanced biology, chemistry, anatomy, and health courses. Such classes initiate the student with the various functions of the human body and strategies to prevent and treat various physical ailments. Many students volunteer in school athletic programs or community sports associations in order to gain practical experience identifying, treating, and designing rehabilitation schedules for different injuries. Students typically apply to four year undergraduate universities in their senior year of high school.
An undergraduate can generally major in a number of different subjects, though most students pursue degrees in health, biology, sports science, or physical therapy. A hopeful physiotherapist usually receives both classroom and laboratory instruction, gaining advanced knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and health care procedures. Near the end of a bachelor's program, a student can take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and begin applying to physical therapy programs at accredited graduate schools.
Gaining admission into a physiotherapy school can be difficult, as competition for openings is usually very strong. Schools generally accept students with the strongest educational records, GRE scores, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. Once admitted, a student receives extensive classroom, laboratory, and clinical instruction on the fundamentals of physical therapy. He or she prepares for a physiotherapy career by observing and assisting experienced therapists in a clinical setting. Master's degree programs typically last about two years, while doctorate programs can take three to four years to complete.
A graduate must take a licensing exam administered by his or her state or country before practicing independently in a physiotherapy career. Exams test an individual's knowledge of various procedures, safety measures, and ethics. After becoming licensed, a new physiotherapist often works as an intern at a hospital or physical rehabilitation clinic for about one year, gaining essential hands-on experience under the supervision of established professionals. Once an internship is completed, the individual can pursue many physiotherapy career opportunities in hospitals, clinics, and private practices.