What it’s like to work as a physiotherapist

Victoria Adie is a physiotherapist working in West Sussex.

I qualified as a physiotherapist more than ten years ago. I love my job. You meet so many different people which makes every day different.

My role

I specialise in musculoskeletal physiotherapy which involves treating patients that may have developed pain in an area of their body or may need rehabilitation following an injury or operation.

A key part of this role is being able to communicate effectively with a client to help diagnose the condition. It is also helping people to understand their condition so they can effectively manage it.

Physiotherapy treatment in this setting is often predominantly exercise-based and a key part of my role is working out what exercise will be appropriate to improve a person’s condition. There are other treatment skills that we use to aid a person’s recovery in addition to exercise prescription such as joint mobilisation and massage therapy.

Specialising

It is often surprising to some that there are many different areas to physiotherapy and not just ‘sports physiotherapy’ that many people associate it with.

Some physiotherapists are specialists in respiratory medicine and help patients in intensive care and hospitals with lung conditions to improve their breathing.

Neurological physiotherapy is treating patients in hospital with conditions such as a stroke or brain injury to helping people in the community with longer-term neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or MS.

Some physiotherapists work in paediatrics which itself has lots of specialisms within it. There are also community-based physiotherapists working with people in their homes and supporting services such as falls prevention.

When I first qualified, I worked in a large teaching hospital and rotated around many different departments and gained lots experience in the different areas of the profession, but eventually found my passion was for musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

Developing skills and interests

There are often lots of ways that as a physiotherapist you can expand your skills. In my case, I have also qualified in acupuncture and can use this as an additional adjunct to my treatment. I have also attained a post-graduate certificate in sports injury management.

I am also a qualified Pilates instructor and, as well as running a physical class as a side business, I also operate a Pilates website (www.pilateslive.co.uk) which offers free online classes to help make Pilates and essential core exercises accessible to anyone, whatever their circumstances.

How to get started as a physiotherapist

If you are thinking about a career in physiotherapy then it’s really important to gain some work experience to see for yourself what is involved and have an understanding of the many areas that physiotherapy as a career is made up of. This is something that many universities look for when applying to do physiotherapy.

Most physiotherapy departments will offer work experience to students interested in the profession and you can contact your local service to arrange this.

To qualify as a physiotherapist you then need to apply to a university to complete the appropriate degree.

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