As discussed in a prior blog post, there are several different populations physical therapists could work with. The following post will discuss in-depth the advantages to working in an out-patient setting. This blog post would be ideal for undergraduate and graduate students pursing physical therapy, and those who want to know more details on a possible field.
Out-patient physical therapy is the setting most commonly thought of by the average, healthy person. This specific type of therapy is characterized by the patient visiting the clinic and the physical therapists. In this subset of physical therapy, the therapist could see patients of any age, with any injury. Common injury sites include the shoulder, back, and knee. Out-patient therapy would be a good option for those who enjoy meeting new people, because a physical therapist can often see around 4 patients an hour. Moreover, those who are creative may enjoy out-patient therapy, because physical therapists often make-up their own unique exercises. Out-patient physical therapists should also become comfortable with exercise machines, because oftentimes the patients utilize these machines for therapy. While a history in personal training is not necessary, many prior personal trainers feel comfortable in an out-patient clinic because of the experience with exercise equipment.
Other than the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), no other certification is required to work in an out-patient setting. Many therapists, however, decide to take certification courses in related field, such as dry-needling and trigger-point therapy to complement their initial education. Dry Needling is similar to acupuncture, and is used in addition to manual therapy. Trigger Point therapy is a form of manual therapy that is used to loosen the extremely tight knots in muscles which cause severe pain. Trigger points can cause referred pain, so when the actual points are treated, most of the surrounding muscle pain is also weakened. While both dry needling and trigger point therapy aim to target trigger points, each individual patient will respond to the therapies differently. Patients’ needs are unique, that is why many professional physical therapists recommend having a wide array of techniques within the professional toolbox.
Out-patient physical therapy is considered the most common setting, with one poll finding that 43% of physical therapists are in an out-patient setting. While out-patient therapy is not the most lucrative field within the industry, the average salary is still projected to be around $75,000. More information regarding salary can be found by following this link. A perk of out-patient physical therapy is the flexible hours; oftentimes therapists can make a schedule that works best for them, which often includes full week-days off. This field is appealing to those who hope to work multiple jobs, or want more time for family or personal matters.
For any University of Maryland students interested in pursuing an out-patient therapy setting, the University Health Center allows student volunteers and paid aide positions to work in the physical therapy clinic.