If it is your nature to want to help people who are having difficulties, then you may have just identified your professional calling. With your bachelor's degree you can enter the work force as a rehabilitation therapist. This is sure to allow you to have a very fulfilling professional life!
As a rehabilitation therapist you will spend your days helping patients regain their physical abilities, their social abilities, or their mental abilities. Many times, you will be working with patients who are receiving treatments due to a disability, an injury, or an illness. Since this is such a broad area of study, it may be important for you to narrow down which specific area of rehabilitation therapy that you would like to work within. However, for some traditional colleges and universities you will not be required to select an area of focus unless you decide to further your educational degree level.
As you work on your bachelor's program you will need to complete courses such as: psychology, therapeutic practices, pathology, chemistry, complementary therapies, nursing, anatomy and physiology, and ethics. In this line of work, it will be important that you can consistently present yourself in a professional manner and that you can communicate effectively with patients. Furthermore, your success in this career field will largely depend upon your ability to be tuned in to your patients' needs and to then be compassionate and sensitive regarding those identified needs. Keep in mind, this career will often require a significant amount of medical tests to be performed. Depending upon your employer, it may be your responsibility to help administer these tests. This will require you to fully understand basic scientific and medical principles.
Once you have obtained your bachelor's degree in rehabilitation therapy you will be able to seek employment as a physical therapist assistant. In this capacity, you will work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist to administer therapy based care to patients. Common tasks you may be responsible for performing are: providing deep tissue massage therapy, applying hot or cold compresses to a specific area of a patient's body, conducting ultrasound treatments, explaining and demonstrating how to perform a therapeutic exercise, and keeping accurate records related to a patient's therapeutic progress.
While it does vary some from state to state, most physical therapist assistants must earn a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Examination. This licensing test is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states even require their prospective physical therapy assistants to complete a secondary form of licensure.
It is important to understand that if your career goal is to become a physical therapist or an occupational therapist, you will be required to further your level of educational degree. In addition, there are many job opportunities for individuals who want to begin their work with their bachelor's degree, gain valuable experience in the field, and then pursue an additional area of certification or degree.
Start your research first by doing a simple search in your area to see what available jobs there are in rehabilitation therapy. This will give you a good idea of the market size and if it is still a career you intend to pursue. The second step is to find a qualified school where you can earn your Bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation therapy. Possible career paths after graduation include:
- Rehabilitation Therapist
- Fitness Facilities
- Occupation Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Physician’s Assistant Studies
- Rehab Counselor
When you earn your degree be prepared to take approx. 30 hours of core coursework that focuses on rehab science. Some of the different courses you’ll take include:
- Social Work
- Massage Therapy including Sport Therapy
- Marriage ad Therapy Counseling
- Neuroscience and modalities
- Chemistry and Biology
- Psychology of Child Development
- Therapeutic Exercises
- Natural Sciences
Often individuals that are looking for a school in rehabilitation therapy first start out taking psychology classes.
Timing & Flexibility – Look for a school that gives you the opportunity to take courses at an accelerated pace or even test out of a course. Most of your online degrees will give you options like this were your campus based programs typically stick to a routine of teaching a course that lasts between 6 to 8 weeks. It is also a good idea to see if the Bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation therapy program is offered with a mix of campus and online courses. This will further give you more flexibility especially if you are working full-time.
Degree Level – Most of the schools will offer a Bachelors program as well as one in a Masters level. This is important as you can continue with your coursework for another degree without the need of worrying about transferring those credits to another school. Transferring credits can someone cost $50-150 per credit so it is a big cost savings staying with the same school for all of your educational needs.
It is always a good idea to check with your state first regarding any requirements regarding licensing. Check out national physical therapy exam NPTE at www.fsbpt.org for more information. The rehabilitation industry is massive as more and more seniors are aging as well as more people being covered by insurance. The industry is overall expected to grow by 35%. The median annual salary ranges from $79,000-$82,000 per year. It is recommended that you earn a degree of at least a Bachelor’s degree.
- Plan exercises for patients based on need.
- Focused massage techniques to relieve pain.
- Effective communication between team members and members of the healthcare facility.
- Diagnose physical condition of patient.
- Perform daily exercise routines for patients.