Consider a Career as a Physical Therapist
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is an allied health profession geared toward the prevention of movement dysfunction, and toward the improvement of physical capacity.
Physical therapy promotes optimal health and its primary goal is to assist individuals achieve the highest possible level of independence and functioning.
Therapists often work and collaborate with different health professionals, including rehabilitation health professionals, pharmacists and nurses, and with physicians.
During a typical assessment, physical therapists (PTs) examine and assess an individual’s functioning through a series of tests and the use of specialized instruments. As an example, a PT may assess an individual’s muscle strength, respiratory functioning, and locomotion.
PT treatment includes prescribing exercises to patients that have been immobilized or who lack strength or flexibility. Depending on the diagnosis and other health conditions, these exercises can target balance, posture, strengthening, and coordination, with the ultimate goal of increasing function.
In terms of specialized equipment, PT may include electrical modalities, hot packs and cold compresses, and ultrasound. For instance, therapists can use ultrasound to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
Education and training
A university degree in physiotherapy and a minimum number of supervised clinical training hours are required. Registration with a provincial or territorial regulatory body is required to practice physiotherapy.
Moreover, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador require that all applicants for licensure have passed the Physiotherapy Competence Examination, which includes both written and clinical components. For example, in Ontario, individuals must be registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario in order to use the title Registered Physiotherapist and to practice as a physiotherapist.
Admission information and requirements
Currently, there are 14 physiotherapy schools across Canada. They are Dalhousie University, Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal, McGill University, Université d?Ottawa, Queen’s University, University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia.
Applicants are advised to contact the school of their choice directly for specific admission requirements. For instance, the University of Toronto has an entry level M.Sc. in Physical Therapy two-year clinical stream as well as an advanced standing one-year program for current physiotherapists that wish to gain graduate level physical therapy training.
Where physiotherapists work
Physiotherapists are employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, with sports teams, in industry, long-term care facilities, or in private practice.
Therapists may specialize in a particular clinical area such as cardiology, pediatrics, or neurology, or work with certain types of individuals such as burn victims or athletes with sports injuries. Some Canadian therapists apply their training and knowledge to working with animals. This is known as animal therapy. Physiotherapists working in the private sector directly charge their patients? insurance companies. Generally, their wages are higher than those working in publicly funded institutions.
Salaries and demographic information
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association states that salaries vary considerably between and within the provinces. According to a 2005 survey, new graduates working at hospitals or public facilities earned between $33,266 and $52,522. With increased experience and training, physiotherapists in the same field earn wages ranging from $56,000 to $77,142.
According to Service Canada, PTs earn $25.89 per hr in Canada. For instance, in Ontario, the yearly median income is just over $55,000 while in Alberta it is approximately $54,000. Women comprise 88 per cent of physical therapists and about 75 per cent of PTs worked full-time in 2004. The majority of therapists (86 per cent) were 25 to 54 years of age, and 7 per cent were older than 55 and 6 per cent were 24 or younger.
Employment opportunities are good for physical therapy graduates. Stronger growth is found in private and community-based settings. Moreover, as the Canadian population ages, there will be a greater need for health care services.
For more information regarding physiotherapy as a career, please visit the Canadian Physiotherapy Association website.