Whether you've just graduated, you're in your final year, or you're just starting out in your degree, looking towards the future can be overwhelming. It can be tricky figuring out which career path you want to take, and even trickier if you've decided in-clinic work just isn't really your style. What's next?
Luckily for you, as a physiotherapy grad you have a ton of opportunities available to you - maybe a bunch you've never even considered before. The skills you've gained throughout your degree make you an ideal candidate for a variety of different roles within the Allied Health industry - you just need to know where to look.
As a physio, you'll have fantastic empathy and patience, strong communication and problem-solving skills, and a lot of resilience to treat patients and work with other physical therapists. The level of emotional intelligence you have is an imperative part of any health-related role.
The clinic not for you?
Sometimes the clinic is a physio grad's calling, and sometimes it isn't. A lot of grads thrive in a clinical setting, seeing a high volume of patients day in and day out – it can be pretty physically demanding! If that isn't really what you had in mind, don't stress - we've got some suggestions for you.
This one requires less of a hands-on approach and focuses more on case management. You'll likely have a diverse portfolio of work, including consultation for work-related injuries and for those managing disability rehab. You will be assisting those who have been injured or ill return to work, and liaise with the rest of your patient's team, including their employer and health practitioners.
This often means you're hitting the road, giving worksite assessments or collaborating with stakeholders, making it an incredibly diverse job without a dull moment.
Australian Defence Force
If you’d still like to give hands-on therapy to your patients but want to switch up the scenery a little bit, becoming a physiotherapist in the Australian Defence Force could be an exciting challenge. You may find yourself in a deployed hospital giving patients pre- and post-op care, or providing rehab support to patients after surgery, injury, or illness.
It's a hugely varied job and will give you the opportunity to work with a diverse set of patients with their own unique issues related directly to the Defence Force.
Occupational Health Physiotherapy
Did you know that, on average, Australians spend almost 2000 hours at work every single year? As such, a lot of companies and organisations are investing in occupational health physiotherapists. This can be through delivering onsite physiotherapy to workers as a result of injury or illness, conducting workplace assessments, and introducing ergonomic working methods.
You can think of it as a bit of an occupational therapy crossover. Though, whilst occupational therapists focus on regaining function in everyday life, occupational physiotherapists work primarily with mobility, utilising massage, exercise, and other techniques to get their patients up and at 'em once more.
Working with Kids
Early intervention is one of the best ways to tackle potential problems with balance, motor skills, joint and muscle problems, and other potential issues that arise in young people. You may find yourself working with kids to improve strength and movement after surgery or illness, work through growth pain or sports injuries, or assist children who have developmental disabilities.
Depending on the job you get, you could potentially work in a variety of environments. This may be in a clinic, but also could be in a hospital, in schools, or even in patient homes. Keep in mind, though, that this route requires some additional education before you can get to work.
Mobile Outpatient Therapy
If you enjoy the hands-on aspect of being a physio but also want to get out of the clinic and work in different environments, mobile outpatient is a great way to get out there. In this role, you'll be visiting your clients in their homes and delivering physiotherapy treatments there.
Mobile outpatient jobs are great in terms of flexibility and your days are very patient-centered as you work with their unique home setups and potential challenges.
Senior Care Programs
Senior Care programs deliver a variety of services to the older population. This includes rehabilitation, nursing, transportation, social work, recreation, and a whole host of others to help them thrive in their environments.
A big part of this is physical therapy. As people age, they may have mobility issues, chronic pain and falls – physiotherapists are there to help regain movement and independence. Senior Care programs are designed to allow older adults to have their health needs met without having to go to a nursing home or care facility and, as such, you'll often be visiting your clients in their homes, working with them and their families. You'll likely be combining different combinations of therapies, including stretching and massage, to reduce pain and increase function.
Working in Corrections Facilities
Working in prisons and other correctional facilities can be hugely rewarding, and offers a different environment than the classic clinical setting. You'll likely see a very wide variety of diagnoses coming through, and work with a diverse range of patients. It requires a lot of innovative thinking, as your patients may not have access to certain things that those outside of correctional facilities do - so you may have to get creative and think on your feet. But it can be hugely rewarding to make a difference in a population of people that may not have had access to this type of care before.
This is a pretty niche setting though, and not one that everyone will be comfortable with. Do your research and get some insight into what this work setting entails.
Working in the Mining Industry
Jobs in the mining industry can be pretty physically demanding, and having a physiotherapist on deck is important to ensure workers are managing any pain or injuries that arise while onsite. Working as a FIFO physio gives you flexibility in your off weeks to do whatever you like, and being onsite is a unique environment that will give you excellent experience as a physician. In addition, you'll be coming into contact with people from all walks of life, and have a ton of different perspectives at hand, both from colleagues and patients alike.
So, where to now?
With so many opportunities available to you as a physiotherapy grad, it can be tricky to make a choice. Make sure you do your research, get volunteer experience where you can, and consider applying for physiotherapy graduate programs, as these can be great in cycling through different roles and seeing which position fits with your career goals the best.
Check out APM's Allied Health Grad program, or pop your details below and we'll keep you updated.