The best parts about being a physiotherapist
Physiotherapists play an important role in keeping people moving, whether it be for maximum performance in athletes and people with chronic health conditions. They also have an impact on patients who require rehabilitation after events such as surgery or a catastrophic accident. It can be rewarding to see patients reach their goals.
Australian physio Sarah Flanagan has worked in the UK and the Middle East. According to Gold Coast physio Richard Newton, Australian physiotherapists are regarded as some of the best in the world, and are often able to find work overseas:
The Australian Physiotherapy Association is working towards a career pathway for physiotherapists.
Victorian based physiotherapist Phebe Liston explains how her career in physiotherapy allowed her to create multiple business avenues like the e-commerce business she is currently working on.
Things you really need to consider before deciding to study physiotherapy
Competitition to work with elite athletes – Many young people will become interested in physiotherapy as a career as they dream of working with elite athletes. While this is definitely possible, there is a lot of competition for these positions. The Head Physiotherapist for the Australian Olympic Team for the London 2012 Games gives her tips here.
In this video physiotherapist Richard Newton discusses the potential downsides of working with elite sporting teams:
Musculoskeletal disorders – Ironically, it is common for physiotherapists to suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders. This can involve pain in the upper and lower back, the neck, shoulders, wrists, hands and ankles. Many physiotherapists start having symptoms in their first 5 years of practice. On top of the physical side, physio Nick Schuster has spoken about his experience with burnout. A self-care plan needs to be considered if you would like a long career as a clinician.
Professional standards – To become a physiotherapist, there are 9 standards you will need to meet, as set by the Australian Physiotherapy Council.
What do physiotherapists do and where do they work?
There are a number of roles for physiotherapists in a hospital. These include:
- The Emergency Department
- The Orthopaedic ward
- The Intensive Care Unit
- Saving lives anywhere where a patient has a severe chest infection
In this video hospital physio Rory Barlow talks about the roles of physiotherapists in a hospital:
There are career pathways in the public health system, as well as opportunities in the Australian Defence Force. Some private practitioners are also expanding their practices to offer Pilates classes. There are also opportunities are for cross-referrals with other practitioners.
Physiotherapists can also have a role in the rehabilitation in scenarios such as an adult returning to work or in treating kids to have been pushed too far on the sporting field. . There are some physiotherapists who concentrate on the area of urinary incontinence.
Some physiotherapists will have an interest in becoming a hand therapist, and there is also the opportunity for physiotherapists to work with people who have disabilities.
Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are a large national health priority area in Australia. There has been some controversy as to whether physios referring patients directly to medical specialists (e.g. orthopaedic surgeons) is a cost-saving measure or fragmenting care.
Physiotherapists are now able to complete a course to become a credentialled diabetes educator, and there is also the possibility that they will be able to prescribe some medications, particularly those for pain and breathing. It is also possible that critical care physiotherapists will be using techniques such as lung ultrasound in the future.
Since 2015, the Australian Physiotherapy Association has been fighting for the right of physiotherapists to prescribe medicines that will benefit patients undergoing physical therapy. If approved by the government, physiotherapists wanting to gain rights to prescribe will have to apply for board endorsement and meet certain criteria.
Physiotherapists can also work online. The Australian Physiotherapy Association has also recently been highlighting research around Internet delivered physiotherapy services based from a study that internet-delivered treatments are effective in managing chronic knee pain.
Where are the courses?
Physiotherapy courses are available in most states throughout Australia at an undergraduate and postgraduate level. Click here for a list.
Please go to our physiotherapy infographic page for more information about the pathways to becoming a physiotherapist.
ATAR / OP for physiotherapy
Click here for ATAR / OP information for physiotherapy courses in Australia.
Click here for the latest news about physiotherapy.
Are physiotherapy graduates getting jobs?
As at early 2015, My Health Career has not heard of issues with physiotherapy graduates getting jobs.
As at 2012, there were 23,934 registered physiotherapists in Australia. Of these, 20,081 were employed in physiotherapy, with 17,980 being clinicians, 839 administrators, 572 educators and 299 researchers. 209 were looking for work in physiotherapy and 2,614 were not in the physiotherapy labour force, be it employed elsewhere or not employed at all. Click here for more workforce data about physiotherapy in Australia.
How much money do physiotherapists earn?
In 2018 the statistics on myfuture report that full time physiotherapists earn an average of $83,616 per annum.
Please read our scholarship listing thoroughly for this information.
Click here to go to our videos about a career in physiotherapy.
Career information from professional associations
Go to this page and click on the links from there.
This page was last updated in May 2018.