10 Physiotherapist Skills to be Successful in Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Being a physiotherapist can be a rewarding career where you can bring a positive difference in a person's life. Through exercises and various movements, physiotherapists help people to manage their pain, balance and motion. To qualify as a physiotherapist, it's important to have the right qualifications and develop several specific skills. In this article, we discuss the top physiotherapist skills and share tips to help you improve these skills.

10 essential physiotherapist skills

It's important to develop certain specific physiotherapist skills to be successful in this career. A physiotherapist is a health care professional who directly works with people who suffer movement and body functions due to injury, disease, ageing, disorders and weight issues. Physiotherapy also helps reduce injury-related problems and illnesses in the future and takes care of patients of all age groups. Physiotherapists work in various environments, such as hospitals, public health centres, sports clubs and teams, fitness centres and private practices. Here are some important skills and qualities required to become an effective physiotherapist:

1. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are the different behavioural ways in which a person interacts with another person effectively. A physiotherapist interacts a lot with the patients and their relatives and caregivers belonging to different age groups. For effective physiotherapy sessions, it's essential to develop rapport with the people and gain their trust. This can make it easier to plan and conduct the sessions effectively. Positive attitude, empathy, reliability and good listening skills are some of the interpersonal skills you may develop to succeed as a physiotherapist.

2. Communication skills

As part of physiotherapy sessions, it's important to effectively communicate with the patients regarding the treatment plan, exercises and other relevant information for their improvement. Keeping the patient involved and motivated throughout the therapy session is also the duty of the physiotherapist. Therefore, it's important to have excellent communication skills to interact with patients and other stakeholders. Communication also includes writing skills for correctly documenting the instructions for the treatment and listening skills to understand and handle patients suffering from trauma or injury.

3. Organisation skills

As a physiotherapist, you may work with several patients and spend time with them for treatment. Therefore, it's essential to organise your schedules and structure your appointments. Keeping the tools and the requirements for exercise ready before the patient's arrival can help you save time and focus more on the treatment procedures.

Read more: Organisational Skills: Definition, How to Use and Examples

4. Time management

Physiotherapy involves being with the patient and making them do exercises and other activities. This requires the physiotherapist to be with each patient for a certain amount of time. Therefore, a clear allocation of time and communicating the time slot to each patient is very important. This can ensure that the patient is ready on time, and you can start and end the sessions in the allocated time slot.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and How to Improve

5. Observation skills

Attention to detail and observation skills are critical for a physiotherapist. Different medical conditions have a specific standard set of treatment procedures. So, as a physiotherapist, it's important to observe how the patient responds to the treatment. If there is a delay in the patient's recovery, it's important to identify it on time and do the necessary treatment.

6. Critical thinking

Sometimes one treatment procedure may work for one patient, but not for another. Identifying and creating treatment plans that fit each patient is part of the work of a physiotherapist. At times, it may be challenging to handle some patients. In such cases, you may take approaches and creative ways to convince and make the patient comfortable.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Teamwork skills

Along with physical therapy, some patients may require other treatments as well. For example, if the patient has suffered an accident, they might experience trauma where consultation and support from a psychologist are also necessary. For the person's effective and fast recovery, working together as a team along with other medical departments may be helpful.

8. Physical fitness

The job of a physiotherapist involves physical work and a lot of movement. The physiotherapist helps the patient perform physical exercises to improve their motor skills. So, as a physiotherapist, it's important to focus on your physical fitness to help treat your patients effectively.

Read more: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

9. Patience

A physiotherapist may work with different types of people. Sometimes the patients may not be interested in doing the exercise. In such scenarios, being patient is critical. Instead of forcing the person to do an exercise or activity, being patient with them and trying to make them understand the need for the treatment may be helpful.

10. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels. By learning and understanding the patient's background, you can bond with them and help them recover faster. Being empathetic can be a highly powerful approach, which builds patient's trust, calms anxiety and improves health outcomes

Read more: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Tips for improving your skills as a physiotherapist

To maintain success throughout your career, constantly improving your physiotherapy skills is essential. Here are some ways to enhance your skills as a physiotherapist:

Create a schedule

The role of a physiotherapist involves a lot of work, including conducting sessions for patients and documentation. You may have to spend time with each of the patients. Maintaining a proper schedule and prioritising the task can help to complete all work on time. If the sessions take more time than planned, it can affect the entire day's schedule. This may also cause displeasure to the other patients.

Build loyalty

Since physiotherapy involves multiple sessions with the patients, building a good relationship is helpful. Make the patient feel valued and important. Keep everything ready for the session. This can make the patient feel that you care for them. Building loyalty can help the treatment and make their recovery faster. When you build a rapport with the patient, they may become more interested in following the exercise and other instructions.

Offer alternative treatments

Repeatedly doing the same exercise may be tedious for the patients. Planning different types of training and activities motivates the patients to come for the sessions. It can make the sessions less monotonous and more exciting for the patients.

Stay updated about the latest developments in your field

In the field of medicine, including physiotherapy, change happens all the time. Scientists discover new methods, tools and techniques for the treatment of several medical conditions. To remain successful and provide excellent treatment to your patients, try to understand and learn about all the latest developments in your field. As a physiotherapist, you may focus on constantly learning and improving your knowledge and skills to remain successful.

Consider taking courses that help you improve your physiotherapy skills. In between sessions and treatments, taking time to learn new methods and techniques for therapy is beneficial. While you invest in education, you may come across various new teachings and treatment techniques that can add value to your career.

Focus on interpersonal skills

An efficient physiotherapist can communicate with patients effectively and motivate them for their speedy recovery. You can develop interpersonal skills in several ways, such as appreciating the patient whenever they perform the exercise correctly, actively listening to the patient and understanding their difficulties can help build rapport and make them feel comfortable working with you. This can tremendously help during the physiotherapy sessions.

Highlighting your physiotherapy skills

Here are some ways you can highlight your skills in physiotherapy when applying for a job:

On your resume

Include your skills, achievements, experience and qualifications on your resume. Review the job description and highlight the physiotherapy skills mentioned in the job listing. This can help stand out among the competition and capture the hiring manager's attention.

In your cover letter

Your cover letter is your opportunity to explain to the employer why they should hire you. Consider this as an opportunity to share your experiences, including your physiotherapy skills that are most interesting to the employer. The job listing can help you decide which skills to include and focus on in the cover letter.

During an interview

Mention your physiotherapy skills clearly during the interview. For situational questions, try to explain by including the skills mentioned above. If you have prior experience, you may explain those situations and how you handled them effectively using these skills. This can help the interviewer to gain confidence in your ability and validate the contents of your resume.

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