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Job Photographs

  • A man and a woman are standing, facing each other.  They are both performing arm exercises.

    Teaching the patient exercises to help strengthen his muscles.

  • A man and a woman are standing next to a table.  They are looking at a paper document.

    Discussing a client's notes with a colleague.

  • A man is lying back on a bench, lifting a stick above him.  A woman is standing next to him, advising him.

    The physiotherapist must first assess the client's capabilities.

  • A man is standing with his left arm outstretched.  A woman is standing in front of him, measuring his arm.

    Measuring the range of the patient's movements.

  • Numerous people are sitting at two tables, talking.

    Running a group therapy session.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair, with a pillow on her lap.  Her left arm is resting on the pillow.  A woman is standing next to her, using a piece of equipment on her arm.

    Using ultrasound equipment to break down scar tissue.

  • Two women are walking down a sports hall.  One of the women is walking with the aid of a walking stick, and the other woman has her arm around her.

    Teaching a patient how to use a walking stick.

  • A man and a woman are standing in a hospital physiotherapy clinic, talking.  There are human anatomy posters on the wall behind them.  The man is wearing a physiotherapist's uniform.

    Talking to a support services manager about providing some adapted chairs for patients.

  • Physiotherapist

Physiotherapist

Introduction

As a Physiotherapist you will assess and treat people whose movement is restricted by injury, illness or old age. You'll use exercises, equipment and the movement of limbs and joints to treat patients. Important areas of the work include health promotion, rehabilitation and treatment, and giving specialist advice to prevent health problems.

Video: - Ian: Physiotherapist

Video: - Megan: Physiotherapist

Video: - Deepa: Physiotherpist

Work Activities

As a Physiotherapist you will treat a range of problems to do with the musculoskeletal (tissues, joints and bones), neuromuscular (brain and nervous system) and cardiovascular (heart and lungs) systems.

You can expect to work with a wide range of patients, in lots of different places. Here are some examples:

  • outpatient clinics: treating people with spinal and joint problems or who are recovering from accidents
  • hospitals: including intensive care (chest physiotherapy can be vital to keep patients breathing after surgery)
  • schools: working with children who have movement problems, co-ordination difficulties and conditions such as cerebral palsy
  • workplaces: helping staff avoid and recover from injuries and accidents
  • older adults: working with people who might be recovering after strokes or falls, or who have Parkinson's disease
  • learning disabilities: increasing independence and helping people achieve their potential
  • women's health: advising on exercise and posture in antenatal and postnatal care
  • sports and community centres: preventing and treating problems through exercise and back care classes

GPs and other healthcare professionals often refer patients to a Physiotherapist. Increasingly, people can refer themselves directly to a Physiotherapist without having seen another healthcare professional first.

When you first meet the patient you will examine them to see what treatment might be needed. For example, the patient might arrive with a swelling, pain or stiffness in their arm. You will ask the patient to move the arm and would then move the arm themselves. After this, you might measure the arm to see if muscles have wasted through lack of use.

Now you can decide on the best form of treatment to meet the patient's needs. In planning and delivering treatment, you might work with people such as Occupational Therapists, Health Visitors, District Nurses and Social Workers.

As a Physiotherapist you can choose to focus on one of a wide range of specialist areas. For example, some specialise in respiratory care, burns management, acupuncture, older adults or learning disabilities.

An important area of the work is giving specialist education to prevent injuries and other health problems. For example, a Physiotherapist focusing on respiratory problems will educate patients about the need to give up smoking and methods to achieve this.

You might give training to older adults to help them avoid falls. Or you might help to arrange regular organised walks for a community group, to prevent osteoporosis.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Physiotherapist, you'll need:

  • an interest in science - especially biology
  • patience and sympathy, to help patients who are anxious about doing difficult or painful exercises
  • listening skills
  • the ability to explain things clearly
  • observational skills
  • record-keeping and report-writing skills
  • teamwork skills to work alongside people such as Doctors, Nurses, Health Visitors and Social Workers
  • confidence to work with groups and give presentations

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.

NHS Physiotherapists are paid according to the official NHS Salary Bands 5 and 6.

  • Starting - Band 5: £24,214 - £30,112
  • With experience - Band 6: £30,401 - £37,267

Hours of work

Physiotherapists in the NHS work 37.5 hours a week. You may work shifts, including evenings, nights and weekends.

Where could I work?

Most opportunities for Physiotherapists are in the NHS. Physiotherapists also work in private health care, industry, education, leisure and sport, voluntary organisations, and in policy development and research.

Opportunities for Physiotherapists occur in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.

Self-employment

There are opportunities for Physiotherapists to work independently, in their own practice.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, in local/national newspapers and on job boards.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes and training

To practise physiotherapy in the UK, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

To register, you'll need to complete a degree or postgraduate qualification that is recognised by the HCPC.

To become a Chartered Physiotherapist, you need to be registered with the HCPC and have a physiotherapy qualification that is recognised by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). The CSP strongly encourages all physiotherapy students to join it as student members, to benefit from the wide range of information and advice available from the professional body.

Degree courses include 1,000 hours of supervised clinical practice, usually over five or six placements. Full-time courses usually last for three years (four years in Scotland).

There are also some four-year part-time degree courses. Some of these are available to Physiotherapy Assistants who want to become Physiotherapists.

The University of Huddersfield and Keele University offer foundation years for students without the traditional entry requirements for a degree in physiotherapy. Successful completion of the foundation year enables students to progress onto the physiotherapy degree course. For more information, contact the university you are interested in.

A full list of approved courses at all levels is available on the websites of the CSP and HCPC.

The Allied Health Professions Support Service (AHPSS) supports disabled people who are studying on recognised courses. This support includes:

  • careers advice
  • employment preparation and job seeking skills training
  • advice on the selection and use of assistive technology

For more information, please contact the AHPSS.

The Welsh Government funds the education and training for a range of health professional education courses, (details of the specific courses can be found at: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/undergraduate-education). To be eligible for a bursary you must commit to working in Wales following completion of your programme.

More information about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme can be accessed on the Student awards Services website: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/course-starts-on-or-after-1-september-20

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Progression

With experience, you could become self-employed in your own practice. NHS physiotherapists follow a structured career path. You could specialise in one of many areas, including orthopaedics or working with older people. Progression could also be into a research, management or teaching post.

Work Experience

Previous experience, for example, from working as a Physiotherapy Assistant would be really useful for this career.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.

This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Qualifications

For entry to a degree course in physiotherapy, the usual minimum requirement is:

  • 3 A levels where biology is usually specified. Due to the tough competition for degree course places, you'll need high grades at A level: this will be a minimum of grade C/4, and often above this
  • at least 5 GCSEs at grades C/4 and above, taken in one sitting and including English, maths and sciences

Equivalent qualifications, such as a BTEC level 3 qualifications and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, might be acceptable for entry - please check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Some entrants have relevant experience, for example, from working as a physiotherapy assistant.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter a degree in physiotherapy, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course, such as Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.

The University of Huddersfield and Keele University offer foundation years for students without the traditional entry requirements for a degree in physiotherapy. Successful completion of the foundation year enables students to progress onto the physiotherapy degree course. For more information, contact the university you are interested in.

Part-time degree courses are available, taking four years to complete. These are mainly available to Physiotherapy Assistants who want to become Physiotherapists.

Graduates in relevant degrees, such as a biological science, psychology, sports science and health science, are considered for entry to two-year accelerated MSc courses in physiotherapy or rehabilitation science. Successful completion leads to registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Funding

To get financial support from the NHS, you need to meet certain criteria. If you meet the criteria and are on an approved course (leading to registration with the HCPC), you'll get a grant of £1,000 for each year of the course. You can also apply for a means-tested bursary of up to £4,395 each year (or more in London). For more information, see the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Further Information

NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

NHS Jobs

Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

Step into the NHS

NHS careers

Tel: 0345 6060655

Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU

Tel: 0845 3006184

Email: education@hcpc-uk.org

Website: www.hcpc-uk.org

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

Tel: 0131 6563200

Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

Allied Health Professions Support Service (AHPSS)

Address: AHPSS Resource Centre, University of East London, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, Stratford, London E15 4LZ

Tel: 020 8223 4950

Email: info@ahpss.com

Website: www.ahpss.co.uk

NHS Business Services Authority

Website: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)

Address: 14 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4ED

Tel: 020 7306 6666

Website: www.csp.org.uk

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) Scotland

Scottish enquiries

Address: 49 North Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3BG

Tel: 0131 2261441

Email: scotland@csp.org.uk

Website: www.csp.org.uk/nations-regions/scotland

Getting into Physiotherapy Courses

Author: James Barton Publisher: Trotman

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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