Physical Therapist demonstrating what they do

What Do Physical Therapists Do? A Day in the Life

A career as a physical therapist (PT) is not only rewarding but also filled with diverse opportunities. The primary role of a PT is to assist patients in recovering from various types of injuries. These injuries could be sports-related, a side effect of a disease, post-surgical, due to an accident, or simply a part of life’s wear and tear.

What Is a Physical Therapist?

The American Physical Therapy Association defines a physical therapist as someone who specializes in movement designed to improve the quality of life for the patient. Their primary objective is to enhance the patient’s quality of life through prescribed exercises, hands-on care and massage, and patient education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

A PT’s primary responsibility is to assess a patient and devise a treatment plan to augment their mobility. With the assistance of a PT, patients can achieve their fitness goals, regain their independence, and lead a more active lifestyle.

What Does a Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist Look Like?

No two physical therapists have the same routine. Their work environment and specialties significantly influence their daily processes. For instance, a PT working in a hospital may primarily focus on surgical therapy. In contrast, those in outpatient or standalone practices might handle more age-related issues.

Physical therapists can also run their own practices, which often come with additional responsibilities. They may work for someone or with partners, sharing some administrative tasks. However, there is a specific structure to the job. Let’s delve into a typical day for a physical therapist.

Patient Assessments

A PT’s day often starts with a review of their schedule and preparing for treatments. This preparation may involve setting up equipment and reviewing patient charts. They will likely block out time for new patients, which may be at a specific time or on a set weekday.

The first visit to the PT may be more involved. They will conduct a basic assessment and testing to determine the extent of the injury. They will review medical histories and assess physical limitations. From there, the PT will establish some treatment goals and discuss what to expect from their treatment.


A bulk of their time is dedicated to treatment sessions. One PT can run multiple sessions at a time, especially with interns or technicians. They may even set a patient up with an exercise and let them work independently while seeing someone else.

After exercise, the session may include tissue manipulations and massage. The PT can set up their treatment schedule so one patient is exercising while they assess or work with another patient in the same space.

Patient Education

Patient education is something they can do at the end of their session or while they work with the patient. Education includes providing home exercise instructions, answering questions, and warning about limitations.


A PT may prefer to make notes during their treatment sessions and then do all their documentation at the end of the day. Others may block out time between appointments for documentation.

Documentation is a critical part of their jobs. They need to provide information to insurance companies to get paid, make notes on the patient’s medical record, and confer with primary care doctors and specialists about treatment and progress.

Collaborative Meetings

PTs are usually part of a larger healthcare team, collaborating with many professionals. They might dedicate time for in-person or online meetings with care team members to discuss a patient’s progress or make changes in their treatment. Collaborative meetings could include home nurses, occupational therapists, physicians, and patient care coordinators.

Start Your PT Career Off Right

If that sounds like your dream career, you get a head start by becoming a physical therapy technician. This affordable certification program at Advanced eClinical Training is an online self-paced course you can complete in just eight weeks. After successfully finishing the course, you will qualify to sit for the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) exam and become a nationally recognized Certified Physical Therapy Technician (PTTC).

The online medical certifications at Advanced eClinical Training provide pre-health students with an early start in their healthcare education at a price they can afford. It will look excellent on your application for the physical therapy graduate program, medical or nursing school.

Enroll now and get your healthcare education started at Advanced eClinical Training.

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