You can work in a general setting and help everyone or you can specialize in areas for runners, back issues, neurological issues, and other areas.
The whole idea about the PT is that you work with persons who have movement-related problems. Sometimes people confuse PT with Occupational Therapy which is different. They work with people to help them with learning how to navigate their daily activities that can no longer be done usually because of a change in physical stamina and limitations such as putting on shoes, doing dishes, or reaching dishes on a shelf.
Here are some snippets of what your day could look like in various settings:
- Outpatient Orthopedics: Usually 5-day work week, could have to work 1/2 days on Saturdays on a rotating schedule. It's a very stable environment, where you'd encounter people who have had knee, shoulder, elbow, hand, and/or ankle surgery (or any other musculoskeletal conditions). Depending on what kind of clinic it is, you could have demanding productivity requirements (seeing 10-12 patients within an 8 hour work day). Tends to be a busy work day, but you're usually around other colleagues. Other clinics have PTs see their patients for 1-hour blocks, which is much better!
- Acute Care: You could rotate on many different floors of the hospital, ranging from cardiopulmonary, neurological, orthopedic, and ICU. Lots of team collaboration and effective communication necessary. Sometimes hectic and ever-changing scheduling because acute care is unpredictable. You have to be flexible, but also driven to succeed in this setting. Can either be 8-hour work days or 10-hour work days.
- Acute Rehab: It is very rewarding to work with patients in acute rehab! They most likely had a major event happen (stroke, TBI, heart surgery, etc) and are working hard to get their function back. It can be super tiring to work in this setting, as it sometimes requires 10-hour shifts, 4 days a week.
There are many other settings to work in as a PT, but the 3 I mentioned above are most popular! There's also different patient populations to consider: geriatrics, pediatrics, aquatics, sports, cardiac rehab, etc.
Hope this helps!
Similar to the last post, you'll be working with people to help improve their motor skills.
One friend I have works with the geriatric population and helps them with mobility exercises (ie. actions we take for granted everyday, like walking, sitting, chewing, etc). While a lot of her work is helping them physically, she has found with an elderly population that social and emotional connection with them is just as important, especially considering these are people have lost their abilities over time.
I have another friend who works as a PT and her role is to help with infants who are behind on key developmental stages. She mostly works with parents around steps they can take to help their children get back on track. The types of things she might do is teaching parents how to do certain exercises with their kids at home, such as walking, crawling, chewing, swallowing, etc.