Becoming a physiotherapist

April 22, 2014


If you like working with people, want a physical job and are interested in the way the body moves and heals, then physiotherapy might just be for you!

Physiotherapists work with a huge range of people. Depending on where you want to specialize, you can focus on areas such as sports, pediatrics, education and health promotion, recovery after major surgery or orthopedics and trauma

Our Global Pre-Meds doctor shadowing and global health programs offer your the opportunity to observe a range of cases, including orthopedic surgeries and trauma cases. You are paired with a mentoring doctor and peers of similar interests for two full weeks on the frontlines of international hospitals and clinics. We can help you decide if physiotherapy is right for you.

Role of Physiotherapists

The main role of a physiotherapist is to assist and treat people with physical problems caused by injury, illness, surgery or ageing. They work with patients to identify and improve the movement and function of their body and treat pain, disease or physical injury. Physiotherapists focus on maximizing their patient’s quality of life and movement potential through prevention, intervention (treatment), promotion, and rehabilitation.

What do physiotherapists do?

Physiotherapists assist the rehabilitation process by developing and restoring body systems, in particular the neuromuscular (the brain and nervous system), musculoskeletal (bones, joints and soft tissues), cardiovascular (heart and blood circulation) and respiratory systems (the organs that help you breathe, such as the trachea, larynx and lungs).

Physiotherapists assess patients and/or work with patient information from other healthcare professionals such as doctors or specialists, to create and review treatment programs that include manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, movement and the application of technological equipment like ultrasound therapy.

Typical physiotherapy treatment plans can include:

Movement and exercise: based on a person’s current level of health and the specific requirements of their illness, disease or injury.

Manual therapy techniques: where the physiotherapist aids recovery by using their hands to relieve muscle pain and stiffness through massage and manual therapy, encouraging blood flow to an injured part of the body.

Aquatic therapy: a form of therapy carried out in water.

Other techniques: such as electrotherapy, ultrasound, heat, cold and acupuncture to ease pain.

In addition, physiotherapists can be responsible for:

  • Supervising therapy assistants and junior staff
  • Collecting patient information and writing reports
  • Educating and advising patients on how to prevent and/or improve their condition
  • Self-education to keep up to date with new techniques and technologies
  • Communicating with other healthcare professionals to holistically treat a patient
  • Being legally accountable and responsible
  • Managing workplace risk


Physiotherapists can work for private practices, health centers, hospitals and sports clubs. Physiotherapists can work for the National Health Service (NHS) or open their own practice after 2-5 years of experience. Physiotherapists normally treat patients over several consultations for a period of weeks or months and client relationships are extremely important. Work hours vary depending on the workplace environment, however in practice a physiotherapist can expect to work an 8-10 day either on set or varying shifts.

Personality and Skills

Physiotherapists work with people as part of a team of health care professionals. A good physiotherapist will have the following skills and personality traits:

  • Initiative, patience, sensitivity and tact
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Ability to be encouraging, empathetic and firm
  • Ability to establish a good relationship with patients and their families
  • A genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of patients
  • Interest in anatomy and physiology
  • Ability to work under pressure and manage time effectively

Training and Education

To practice as a chartered physiotherapist you need to complete a university degree approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Once you have completed the degree, you then must apply for registration with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) to practice.

We provide year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training. Check out our program dates and fees here