My Education: BS, UVM
My Prior Experience: I worked in a hospital, then in several rehab centers, then in home health which I love and have done now for 8 years
My Company: My company provides healthcare employees for companies that are short-handed
Job/Career Overview: I go into the homes of people who have been injured or in the hospital, evaluate their muscle strength, their ability to move around in bed, to get in and out of bed, on and off the toilet in and out of chairs, cars, on and off sofas, etc., their ability to walk safely, stand safely to dress themselves, shower, brush teeth, etc.
If they have trouble in any of these areas, I give them exercises to get stronger and teach them and their families safe ways for them to function in their homes. This usually includes giving them a written exercise program that they should do on their own every day and teaching family members or paid helpers how to transfer them safely until they can do it alone.
Sometimes the patient needs to learn to wheel themselves in a wheelchair or use a cane or a walker properly. There are many kinds of equipment available to help people be safe and independent in their homes and, if necessary, I help them obtain and properly use that equipment. The main goal in my job is to get people to the point that they are able to take care of themselves safely and independently in their own homes, and often, able to drive again and function safely and independently out in the community.
More Insights: The most important thing is that you are the type of person who genuinely cares about others. Patients can feel that and it makes a big difference in how well they respond to you.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
I especially enjoy working with people in their homes because they are more relaxed and their personalities come out. I get to meet their families and pets and watch someone who is frightened and weak and sick become strong and confident and independent again. They tell me stories about their younger days which are often very interesting.
I am often the difference between whether someone can stay in their home or have to be put in a nursing home
Physical Therapy is a very competitive field and it is necessary to get good grades all through high school and college. It would be helpful to take many science classes and colleges look for involvement in extracurricular activities. At present, a master's degree is required to become a Physical Therapist and a Doctorate is now being encouraged.
It would help to do volunteer work at hospitals or nursing homes to see if you enjoy being around and working with people who are sick and handicapped.