Life in a Day of a Physical Therapist

Physical therapy program is becoming more and more popular. Physical Therapy school is hard and it can become challenging to hold onto your hopes till the completion sometimes. I want to write this blog to educate current Physical Therapist students how a day looks like a Physical Therapist routinely.  So here is to the life in a day of a Physical Therapist!!

Your Life as a Physical Therapist

A day for Physical Therapist (PT) can be different depending on a full-time or part-time job. Different settings of health care also play a role in a type of day you are going to experience. Few other variables like the organization you work for and expectation of the organization, your rehab manager, number of other PTs/ PTAs in your rehab team and their seniority etc..may represent a small or a big part in your day! But for the most part your day looks like this:

Treatment Day 

Majority of cases, as a PT you can set a logical flexible start and end time of the daily schedule like starting anytime before 10 or 9 etc.  You will get your schedule. Your schedule will tell you how many patients and for how long and any evaluations that you are supposed to see. You can make appointments with your patients (if working in inpatient rehab) the same day or a day prior. I like to check my documentation due report before I start my treatments. This helps me to plan treatment sessions in advance.

As a PT you are expected to attend any family meeting, and discharge planning meeting for your patient. Usually, in the meeting, PTs talk about the current status of patient and goals.  Here, a PT also makes recommendations like home modifications, ramp to get into the house, not recommending to drive etc. Please check out my blog on how to master difficult conversation to know more about this. PTs need to fill out managed care updates. These updates include regarding goals of the patient and current status in physical therapy. Some insurance also asks approximate time frame to achieve the goals.  

Documentation:

You are expected to complete all required documentation for the patient you are treating. The main notes include daily treatment notes, progress notes, re-certification, or discharge papers on the day it is due. A therapist needs to complete an evaluation with an individualized plan of care for a therapist assistant to treat the patient. You will need to assess all functional areas to update the goals, and probably add new goals as appropriate in the re-certification and progress notes.

PTs write their physician orders after evaluations on paper or in computer system depending on the organization you work for. I always like to run the standardized test on my patient during evals and to update them in progress report. Majority of patients have fun out of it, it’s like finding out how good did they do and knowing what to improve on from their report card! It can be a fun-filled activity for the clinician and for the patient.

Communication:

As a PT, communication is a must. Sometimes, I joke with my patients saying I talk for a living!! It is kind of true though. You are not really talking per se, but communicating and educating constantly. You are educating patients regarding the plan of care, importance of exercise and how to do it propel etc. PT also communicates with other members of the team like PTA, OT, SLP, social worker, nursing, respiratory therapist, physician, physiatrist, and patient;’s family members! As I just said, talking for living!!!

Conclusion:

And that pretty much is! It does look like a lot just from reading it on a piece of paper, but once you are in your job, it becomes a routine. The eight hours fly by and you come out of your work happy and satisfied that you provided your best to get your patients on their feet and be mobile. At the end of the day, you were the true helping hand for your patients!

So love what you are doing and have fun in being a PT. It’s you who they will see as a ray of hope to get them out of bed and send them home independently. As a PT, you have that ability and strength so never ever underestimate yourself. Also, have the courage to fight for your patients when you know they are right but at the same time, confront them when you catch them doing something that they are not supposed to do.

Go change the world PT!!!

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NOTE: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.