Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability by using movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and offering advice. They help maintain the health of people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent further disease and disability.
Key to this approach is placing the patient centrally in their own care through education, increased awareness, empowerment and participation in their treatment.
The profession encourages development and facilitates recovery enabling people to stay in work and maintain their independence for as long as possible. The breadth of the scope of physiotherapy practice means you might be working with any age group and at different times in patients' lives. It may be someone with back pain from a sudden injury, managing a long-term condition such as cystic fibrosis, preparing a mother for child birth or supporting elite athletes for a sporting event.
In most cases, you will be an integral part of a multidisciplinary team, which may include a range of health and social care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychologists, team coaches, social workers, teachers and occupational health professionals.
When you graduate from our BSc Physiotherapy or MSc Physiotherapy programmes at UEA, you will be equipped with the clinical knowledge and skills to excel as a physiotherapist. You will have graduated from one of the best schools of health in the UK, and be ready to embark upon an exciting career.
Following your graduation, you will need to register with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and obtain clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to be eligible to work as a physiotherapist in the UK. Your qualification also allows you to work abroad although some countries, such as the USA, Canada and Australia, may require you to sit a further exam.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy will support you to keep your skills and knowledge updated throughout your career. You will need to register with them as a student and we encourage you to remain registered with them while in practice.
Many physiotherapists say that there is no such thing as a typical day. Every patient is different and each day offers new and exciting challenges. You might be working in A&E, or on a rehabilitation ward. You may be a transplant physiotherapist or working on a medical chest ward. You could be meeting patients in a private clinic or working in the community, treating people in their own homes or community facilities or you could even be sitting on the team bench for the England football team!
Here is an example of a day in the life of a working physiotherapist.
Alice Crosby, Senior Physiotherapy
I work on the inpatient ward at Swaffham Community Hospital and in the surrounding community, and have been part of the team for around three years.
My role is to assess and treat people with physical problems caused by illness, accident or ageing, and to help them maximise their movement through health promotion, preventive healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation; this can be on the ward or in the community, in patients’ own homes.
I believe that my job makes a huge difference to people’s lives. It can be the difference between going home from hospital walking or in a wheelchair, having confidence again after feeling anxious following a fall, and being able to manage daily tasks with minimum support. I enjoy working with a variety of patients and helping them achieve their goals, however big or small they may be.
Read the real life story of Peter Eckersley.
There is a huge variety of employment opportunities for physiotherapists in hospitals and community settings.
Physiotherapists are often leaders in health and social care who are motivated by driving up the quality of care for patients and the public.
Physiotherapists are often good managers as they are trained to be problem solvers while managing their patients' conditions. They are also trained to be creative and visionary, enabling the maximum potential for both patients and sustainable health and social care.
Other wide-ranging opportunities including university lecturers, practice placement educators supporting students with their clinical skills, and researchers investigating and developing new professional knowledge.
Together physiotherapists of all vocations lead the profession forward and help to improve the quality of people's lives.
What would my starting salary be?
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change pay scales and as a recently graduated physiotherapist you will usually start at Band 5. Pay and conditions will vary depending upon your employer and competitive rates are offered throughout the private and voluntary sectors. You should always check with the employer to confirm the pay rate for any post for which you are applying.
What hours would I be working?
37.5 hours per week is standard in the NHS, which may include evening and weekends. You may be on-call and seven day working and shift patterns are likely to become more usual in the future.
Outside of the NHS, your hours will be dictated by the context of where you work.
Where could I work?
Physiotherapists are recruited by a wide-range of employers including the health service, higher education, independent and private practice, the voluntary sector including charities, the prison service, industry and sports clubs.
This provides all the information you will need about health careers.
Health and Care Professions Council
The HCPC is the regulating body for health and care professionals. They maintain a database of registered ODPs who meet the necessary standard of education that is required to practice. Once you finish your training at UEA you will need to register with the HSPC in order to become a registered professional before you can be employed as a registered practitioner with the NHS.
National Careers Service
Provides information, advice and guidance on learning, training and work opportunities.