As my last patient left yesterday, I had a great big smile plastered across my face. She had worked hard and I was proud of her, but I was also pretty pleased with my choice of profession. Physical therapy is consistently ranked in the top 10 for most rewarding careers, but why is that so?
You see, being a physical therapist is a bit difficult to explain. Many people think of physical therapy as grueling, difficult, painful and only useful for rehabilitation after traumatic injuries, like car accidents and broken bones, but this is only a small part of the picture.
First and foremost, we are trained as movement experts. But we are also teachers, health coaches, body work masters, spinal health practitioners, mental health counselors, personal trainers, yoga teachers, Pilates pros and motivational speakers. We very often hear, “I had no idea physical therapists can do all this!” The reward comes when we use all these ‘hats’ to see the big picture about what is going on with our patients.
I always sort of wanted to be a teacher. I even took a semester of elementary education in undergrad, but decided it wasn’t for me. When I made the fateful decision to apply to physical therapy school (on a good tip from an anatomy professor), I had no idea I was applying to become an educator! I teach science, psychology and physical education to children and adults who need help with their pain, incontinence, balance, headaches, strength, flexibility, endurance, walking ability, athletic ability and so on…
Teachers always talk about the light they see in the eyes of a child when they ‘get it.’ As physical therapists, our reward is watching someone walk into our treatment area on their first day with the baggage of their symptoms and walk out on their last day with their load a lot lighter and a blue DMU Physical Therapy graduation t-shirt, proudly proclaiming their accomplishments!
Symptoms are a signal that something is wrong.
I teach people to look within themselves to figure out how to feel better. Sometimes this a lengthy process and sometimes it just takes a visit or two to point someone in the right direction for self- healing. We are the ultimate holistic practitioners!