4 Ways to Find Your Niche in Physical Therapy

March 18th, 2015 by

Physical Therapist and PatientHealthcare continues to evolve as evidence-based studies and research bring about advancement to medicine. Every healthcare professional know that it is our duty to provide the best quality patient care to those in need.

In rehabilitation, our clients have the right to be provided with available technology and up-to-date techniques under standards that are safe and effective.

Truly, learning in school is not the end of crafting our trade. With our physical therapy licenses, therapists have the responsibility to evolve with the times and ensure public safety through continuing education.

Physical therapy continues to be a very fulfilling and rewarding career. As the scope of medicine expands, we find that there are branches of specialties and subspecialties being added through the years. It ensures that these best practices will yield proper patient care and handling.

Physical therapy is no exception. There are board-certified fields that one can hold expertise on. Being certified is definitely not a requirement to work in any clinical setting, but knowing that options are available is enough for any therapist to grow in the career. In the APTA website, a link to becoming board-certified clinical specialists is available.

The advantage of getting into these programs is not only to become a successful physical therapist, but also to welcome job and salary opportunities. Examples of these specialties include: orthopedics, cardiovascular and pulmonary, women’s health, pediatrics, geriatrics, neurology, sports physical therapy and clinical electrophysiology.

For any therapist, choosing a specialty may be an easy or challenging move. Here a few suggestions to find one’s niche:

Start as a traveling therapist.

Whether a newbie or an experienced therapist, a traveling career lets one explore not only to different practice locales, but also to various practice settings and specialties. Ensure good communication with the traveling recruiter or agency what your needs and expectations are.

The benefit of having a 13-wk travel assignment is if you don’t click with the specialty, you won’t be stuck with it until the contract ends.

Another plus, one earns a specific work experience even if it was short-lived. On the other hand, traveling with a specialty in mind gets you around facilities with different processes and mentors that build up your therapy skills.

Find a good mentor.

It never hurts to ask your current facility if they have a mentorship program, or to ask an experienced co-worker for some professional mentoring.

Having a guide takes experience to another level. These days, learning online also makes skill-building possible. Blogs, podcasts, discussions, social media and others are great resources to find mentors of your field.

Choose continuing education wisely.

State jurisdiction mandates that therapists earn continuing education hours or units for license renewals. By experience, I have known therapist friends who enroll in ANY course that is inexpensive and/or held in their locales. There is nothing wrong with that, unless you want to specialize and grow in your career.

Be selective with the courses that are relevant to your field, so that time and money investments are not wasted.

Follow your passion and get certified.

Once you finally find your niche, be certified to seal the deal. For the working therapists, devote study time despite the hectic work schedules.

Depending on what field, check with board-specific specialties on how to register and what requirements are needed. Fees will be involved, so ask your facility if they reimburse certification and education expenses.


About the Author:

Joahnna Almero is a licensed Physical Therapist working as a full-time acute inpatient clinician and developing hospital-based patient care projects. She has a bachelors in Physical Therapy from Velez College and licensed to work in Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

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