Physical therapists (PTs) treat people with disabling conditions or after an accident, injury or surgery. They help patients regain strength, increase mobility and reduce pain. PTs prescribe rehabilitation treatments, which often includes exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion in the injured muscles or body parts.
Physical therapists practice mainly in hospitals and clinics, but also in nursing homes, home health agencies and private offices. They work closely with physicians, nurses, occupational therapists and other health professionals to create treatment programs that meet the patients’ needs. Most physical therapists work 40 hours a week, which may include evenings and weekends to fit patient schedules.
Areas of Specialization
Some PTs treat a variety of disorders, while others choose to concentrate on one of the eight certified specialties: cardiovascular & pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, sports and women's health.
The vast majority of physical therapy programs are at the doctorate level, although a handful of master’s level programs remain. Training lasts from two to three years. Many schools allow students to begin a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program after their junior year of college.
Licensure and Certification
Physical therapists must have a degree from an accredited school and a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to obtain a license to practice in Iowa.
Career Outlook Map of Iowa
Physical therapists have a very good job outlook. Statewide, the field is estimated to grow by 27%, but the outlook is even better in central and eastern Iowa.