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A Career as a Chartered Physiotherapist

Work Experience >
Studying to be a Chartered Physiotherapist >
Required Qualifications >
The Application Process >
Undergraduate Physiotherapy Courses >


If you have an interest in a career in physiotherapy, it is important to be aware that professional sport is only one area that chartered physiotherapists practice. Most chartered physiotherapists work as part of a healthcare team in different situations, such as:

  • Care of the elderly
    Usually in a hospital setting, working to maintain mobility and independence in older patients who suffer from a range of age related diseases.

  • Orthopaedics
    Rehabilitating patients who have had surgery to their bones and joints. This surgery may be due to trauma or alternatively an elective procedure for an orthopaedic condition.

  • Paediatrics
    Treating children with mental and physical handicaps such as Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida.

  • Neurological rehabilitation
    Working with patients who are recovering from strokes and traumatic brain injuries to restore normal movement and function. Also providing support to patients with conditions such as Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis to prevent secondary complications.

  • Palliative Care
    Working in the community or in hospices to treat patients with late stage cancer or AIDS.

  • Private Practice
    Working independently in private practice, clinics, hospitals, and GP surgeries, treating a wide range of conditions.

  • Occupational Health
    Larger companies often have their own medical centre. Chartered physiotherapists treat employees' injuries and evaluate the work process in order to prevent physical problems due to repetitive work tasks.

  • Mental Health
    Helping people with mental illness through exercise and relaxation techniques aimed at improving self esteem and confidence.

  • Musculoskeletal out patients
    Within hospital or GP practice settings, treating spinal and joint problems, trauma and sports injuries.

  • Women's health
    Advising on ante-natal and post-natal care, exercise and posture, and managing continence and post-gynaecological operations.

  • Intensive care
    Working with seriously ill people to maintain joint function and maintain good respiratory function.

As you can see, there are a wide range of very different specialties within physiotherapy. The thing that all areas have in common is the use of exercise and manual skills to improve patient function.

After graduate qualification, most chartered physiotherapists gain a wide range of experience in these different clinical areas before specialising in one area. This requires further post graduate qualifications.

Before you apply for a place on a physiotherapy degree course, it is important that all students realise they will be required to undertake clinical placements in a wide range of the above specialities and to demonstrate basic skills in the core areas of musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory and neurology, prior to qualification.

Following qualification, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) recommends newly qualified chartered physiotherapists consolidate their knowledge by working under the supervision of more experienced clinicians. Medical insurance companies now stipulate that physiotherapists must have at least 5 years experience before they will consider them for recognition. This means that it is likely to take eight years from commencement of training for a physiotherapist to realise any ambition they might have to make a full career from private practice.

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