In Summary - Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
The Work - Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists work with people with sport injuries or accident injuries. They work to rebuild the muscle and strengthen limbs. A doctor usually refers clients to the physiotherapist, who then assesses their capabilities and decides on the most appropriate treatment. Initial assessment is made using referral notes and consulting the patients.
Where necessary, other health care specialists, such as occupational therapists are also consulted. Physiotherapists then use physical tests, such as measuring the range of movement and the girth of limbs to determine muscle wastage.
Physiotherapists treat a wide range of different people with a variety of needs. Patients may be amputees, stroke patients, children with severe disabilities, pre- or post-operative patients, or those with psychiatric problems. Some, such as intensive care patients, are very ill, while others suffer from minor injuries.
Exercises may be devised and taught to develop balance, strengthen weak muscles or help patients to relax.
Physiotherapists may also select aids, such as crutches or wheelchairs, and teach patients how to use them.
Although most clients are seen on an individual basis, group therapy can be useful in teaching them how to overcome or prevent common problems such as weakness in the knees, ankles and back.
Health education and the prevention of injury and illness are increasingly important. For example, highlighting relaxation techniques and developing exercise programmes for pregnant women is something that a physiotherapist might do. They also specialise in areas such as manipulation, sports injuries, intellectual disability, research and education.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Plan, prepare, or carry out individually designed programs of physical treatment to maintain, improve, or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain, or prevent physical dysfunction in patients.
- Perform and document an initial exam, evaluating data to identify problems and determine a diagnosis prior to intervention.
- Evaluate effects of treatment at various stages and adjust treatments to achieve maximum benefit.
- Identify and document goals, anticipated progress, and plans for reevaluation.
- Record prognosis, treatment, response, and progress in patient's chart or enter information into computer.
- Obtain patients' informed consent to proposed interventions.
- Test and measure patient's strength, motor development and function, sensory perception, functional capacity, or respiratory or circulatory efficiency and record data.
- Review physician's referral and patient's medical records to help determine diagnosis and physical therapy treatment required.
- Discharge patient from physical therapy when goals or projected outcomes have been attained and provide for appropriate follow-up care or referrals.
- Instruct patient and family in treatment procedures to be continued at home.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Interests - Physiotherapist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Good interpersonal and communication skills are required for this job. You need to be patient, sympathetic and firm, in order to help clients who may be anxious or frightened and reluctant to perform difficult or painful exercises.
You must be able to encourage, reassure and persuade patients of the ultimate benefits of their treatment. You'll need to be skilled in listening, explaining and report writing. Time managment skills are also required to manage a busy appointment schedule.
Ideally, you should be physically fit and have an interest in science and physical education.
Entry Requirements - Physiotherapist
To become a Chartered Physiotherapist you must:
1. Complete a recognised three or four year undergraduate university degree course (or a 2 year accelerated entry to practice MSc) which includes at a minimum 1,000 hours of clinical practice
2. Be accepted as a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
3. Undertake continuous professional development.
B.Sc. in Physiotherapy Degree Programmes (4-year Level 8) are available to school leavers at:
- Trinity College Dublin (TR053)
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RC004)
- University of Limerick (LM100) and
- University College Dublin (DN420)
Coláiste Íde offer a Pre-University Physiotherapy course at QQI/QQI Level-6.
There is one postgraduate entry course in Ireland - the 2-year MSc.Physiotherapy (pre-registration) at UCD. Minimum 2.1 primary degree in a relevant subject area is required for entry. Graduates of this programme are eligible to apply for membership of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists.
Note for Irish physiotherapy students studying outside the Republic of Ireland
Irish physiotherapy students studying outside the Republic of Ireland should be aware that they find it extremely difficult to obtain a clinical placement in an Irish public health facility as part of their undergraduate training. Please note that the following is HSE policy:
Priority for Placements of undergraduate physiotherapists in Irish Public Health System PROTOCOL Priority will be given for students in the following agreed courses:
- BSc in Occupational Therapy – TCD, NUIG, UCC
- MSc in Occupational Therapy – UL
- BSc in Physiotherapy – UCD, TCD, RCSI, UL
- BSc in Speech and Language Therapy – TCD, NUIG, UCC
- MSc in Speech and Language Therapy – UL
Consideration requires to be given to the following:
a. Irish citizens studying outside the Republic of Ireland
b. Additional courses
c. Northern Ireland and UK students
d. Other EU and international requests”
Source: Ruaidhri O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists Royal College of Surgeons. March 2016
Physiotherapist v Physical Therapist
Confusion sometimes arises, especially for students trying to choose college courses, between the occupation and professional titles of 'physiotherapist' and 'physical therapist'. In most other countries the terms are interchangeable, however, in Ireland they refer to two different levels of qualification and clinical expertise.
According to The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, the professional body representing physiotherapists in Ireland, Chartered Physiotherapists have a four-year full-time degree and 1,000 hours of clinical placement in public health services as part of that degree programme and also have expertise in musculoskeletal, cardio-respiratory and neurological conditions. In Ireland, a Physical Therapist does not have training in neurological conditions and work outside the public health system. There are also varied levels of training. In general, their clinical practice is limited to musculoskeletal conditions.
CORU, the Health and Social Care Professional Council which is the State organisation that manages the official register of healthcare professionals is currently in the process of setting up the register for physiotherapists in Ireland, and will have to decide whether both physiotherapists and physical therapists will be included and, if so, what the minimum educational qualifications and clinical experience for the profession will be.
Last Updated: March, 2016
Pay & Salary - Physiotherapist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 33k - 59k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Physiotherapist
While demand has remained strong, there is no evidence of a shortage of therapists (including physiotherapists, occupational, speech and language.
National Skills Bulletin 2018