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Career profile: Physiotherapist

Career profile: PhysiotherapistGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Physiotherapists treat people with physical problems caused by illness, accident or ageing. Physiotherapists identify and maximise their patients’ ability to move through manual therapy, therapeutic exercise and general health advice and support.

On the job

Many physiotherapists work within hospitals. Here they are needed in virtually every department, from general out-patients to intensive care, where round-the-clock chest physiotherapy can be vital to keep unconscious patients breathing.

Physiotherapists also work in the wider community. They can be employed wherever people are at risk from injury from their occupation or activity – certain schools, gyms and dangerous industries may all have a physiotherapist on call.

Course entry requirements

You would need five GCSEs (or equivalent), including at least two sciences, and a minimum of three A-levels, or five Highers with grades AAABB. Alternatives to these are also considered, including BTECs, GNVQs, HNDs and the Open University foundation course in science.

Always check entry requirements with the institution of your choice as they may vary.

What does the training involve?

Training consists of a recognised three or four-year university-based course leading to a BSC in physiotherapy. On completion you would be eligible for state registration, which is essential to working as a physiotherapist in the NHS.

The training involves both periods of theory and clinical experience gained by meeting and working with patients in various healthcare settings.

The theory part of the course covers anatomy, physiology, physics and pathology. You will also develop communication skills, study psychology and gain experience of practical treatment.

There are part-time courses in physiotherapy available at a number of institutions. These courses are primarily available to physiotherapy assistants already employed in a healthcare setting, and/or staff sponsored by the Professional Footballers Association.

Check with the Health Professionals Council for a list of universities offering approved full and part-time degrees.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)