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FEB 27/2014

Pursuing a career in physiotherapy: a guide

Physiotherapy careers can be an ideal choice for medical professionals who are looking for a path in which they can develop their expertise, experience great variety and make a palpable difference to the lives of the patients they serve.

This field of medical practice has always formed a vital component of NHS services, but in recent months it has gained prominence, as the government seeks to emphasise the full range of different therapy options available to patients.

As such, there has perhaps never been a better time to get into physiotherapy, meaning more and more people will be looking learn about the ins and outs of entering and thriving in this exciting sector.

How do I become a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapy encompasses a wide range of interventions, services and advice, all centred around restoring, maintaining and improving people's physical function and movement in order to enhance their quality of life. Physiotherapists are involved at all stages of the care process, from assessment, diagnosis, treatment and referral through to rehabilitation and management of long-term conditions.

Taking a flexible and holistic approach towards meeting individual needs, physiotherapy is all about working side-by-side with patients to address neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory issues, helping both to solve existing problems and prevent new ones from arising.

To qualify as a physiotherapist, students can embark upon a number of different courses, including three-year full-time programmes or accelerated two-year courses for those with a relevant biological science, psychology or sports science grounding. Part-time options and work-based learning opportunities are also available.

Once training is successfully completed, graduates will need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council, the state regulator, at which point they will be able to enter the field in earnest.

What options will be available to me?

Once qualified, physiotherapists will find that a wide spectrum of opportunities are open to them. For example, they could become a consultant physiotherapist in musculoskeletal services or a physiotherapy services manager, or open their own private practice. Alternatively, they could pursue a role as a researcher for a patient charity or a physiotherapy lecturer in a university. It could also be possible to earn a lucrative physiotherapy post with a national sporting team.

People working in this field are expected to have good interpersonal skills and to be able to motivate and sensitively support patients who are struggling with pain or disability. For those with the correct disposition, the work can be immensely rewarding.

How is the physiotherapy field developing?

In the near future, physiotherapy is set to become more important than ever. The government is looking into new ways of providing better, more proactive care for people with long-term conditions, while giving patients greater choice over the way in which their conditions are treated. All of this will result in increased demand for the services offered by physiotherapists.

Moreover, new legislation introduced last year saw the UK become the first country in the world in which physiotherapists and podiatrists can independently prescribe medication to patients without needing to hold further consultations with GPs. This will provide physiotherapy professionals with greater autonomy, while also saving time for GPs and offering greater convenience to patients.

As such, people choosing to enter this field at the present time can be sure they are getting into a fast-evolving and highly valued medical sector - one that is only going to increase in prominence in the years to come.

Find out more about our physiotherapy roles.

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