3 Sets of Skills You Need to Succeed As A Physical Therapist

Are you interested in starting a career in the physical therapy field? You probably know that the fundamental skills needed to be a Physical Therapist require:

  • A passion for helping people
  • The commitment to rehabilitate
  • Helping maintain and develop a patient’s best possible physical health

But becoming a successful Physical Therapist includes honing a series of other attributes that can be applied to a variety of patient situations as well.

Use our physical therapist skills checklist and tips to strengthen your physical therapist skills.

Knowledge-based Physical Therapist Skills

According to the College Foundation of North Carolina, the knowledge needed to be a physical therapist is based on three different sets of skills:

  • Basic
  • Transferable
  • Workplace

Basic Skills

This list includes general skills learned throughout the schooling years that play a role in the daily work of a Physical Therapist:

✓  Reading Comprehension
Having strong reading comprehension skills ensures your ability to pick up new information that can benefit your patients.

✓ Communication (Listening)
While much of the job is physical, it is the Physical Therapist’s responsibility to listen to patients ensure their needs can be met.

Transferable Skills

Some skills required to be a physical therapist actually translate into other professions, which ensures you can work well in a medical setting as a proactive team member.

✓  Giving health care instructions

✓  Operating medical diagnostic equipment

✓  Planning health care treatments

✓  Treating a wide variety of physical problems

Workplace Skills

This physical therapy skills checklist includes skills you need in the workplace. They are more complex and specific to this field.

✓  Strength and Coordination
Physical Therapists can be on their feet, physically supporting patients, handling weights and equipment, and performing massage for multiple hours a day. To be successful in this field, you must have significant strength and coordination.

✓  Providing Instruction
The ability to communicate treatment plans, reassure nervous patients and describe techniques is highly important for Physical Therapists. This job includes a lot of coaching and inspiring, and the ability to clearly instruct patients is key.

Added Bonus: Technology Skills

In addition to the list above, the need for strong technical skills is on the rise.

With the introduction of healthcare apps, tablet-based patient tracking and new tech surfacing every day, the ability to adapt and utilize the newest technology are highly relevant.

Career-Based Physical Therapist Skills

In addition to the workplace skills already outlined, the following list includes techniques worth practicing on a regular basis to make the most of your career.

✓  Invest in Ongoing Education
Make an effort to keep advancing your education. Certain yearly continuing education is a requirement for a PTs, but there is also an opportunity to choose courses that inspire and motivate you, whether that involves obtaining a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy (MPT) or even a Doctorate Degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT).

✓  Hone Your Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are crucial to becoming (and staying) a competitive hire for a Physical Therapy practice.

Like many jobs, the physical therapy profession requires that you work well with co-workers in a variety of roles. In addition, you must also work very well with actual patients, adding to the value of practicing and executing strong social skills.

✓  Stay Current on Field Issues and Research
Making a regular effort to stay current on physical therapy issues will go a long way for the growth of your career.

Not only does this help you provide better care for your patients, it also makes you more valuable to your employer. They want to know that you have the knowledge to regularly bring fresh ideas to the table.

Implement These Skills For Success

Physical therapist skills encompass a wide variety of abilities ranging from medical, interpersonal, physical and academic. Working hard to implement these will ensure a successful career for you!

If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist, get in touch with us today.


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