What Qualifications do Physiotherapists have?
Becoming a physiotherapist is a process designed to equip people with enthusiasm and passion for healthcare with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively provide patients the with the services and treatment they need.
Getting a degree in physiotherapy
While entry requirements vary from university to university, most institutions will ask for three A levels at grades B and C. Some universities however have a far more rigorous programme and only accept candidates with, for example, two Bs and at least an A at A2 level. One of these subjects typically needs to be biology. As well as A levels, applicants should have at least five GCSEs above C grade which must include mathematics and English.
Some institutions will look for vocational qualifications which are equivalent to A levels. A GNVQ in Health and Social Care for example is one such qualification that would be considered for entry into degree level physiotherapy.
Academic ability is not the only criteria for selecting future physiotherapists however. Many admissions tutors will look for individuals who have had some work experience in the field, reflecting both a commitment and enthusiasm for the subject which is as important as ability and skill. The interview process is one designed to look for applicants with a good potential bedside manner, interest in the subject, and ability to communicate well.
Physiotherapy degree programmes tend to be three or four year full time courses, after which if you have achieved the necessary standard of work you will be given either a Bachelors or Masters in Science and can register as a chartered physiotherapist.
The undergraduate physiotherapy programme
A degree in physiotherapy will often be based on both practical experience and theoretical knowledge. The first year of the degree will often be more geared towards providing the anatomical knowledge that you will need, as well as developing skills of critical analysis, communication, and management key to your future role.
The latter half of the second year in most degrees will introduce potential physios to a hospital environment in which they will partake in professional placements under the supervision of a qualified and experienced physiotherapist. Each of these placements will be in a specific specialty to expose the student to a range of different practices and settings, giving them the opportunity to develop both their knowledge and skills in a supervised work environment.
The final year of most undergraduate physiotherapy programmes will also involve a research project or literature review which the student must conduct on their own with some guidance from a project supervisor. Physiotherapy is heavily influenced by a large body of research to which most professionals will contribute over the course of their career, and this part of the degree aims to expose the student to this as well as give them an opportunity for independent study in an area of their interest.
Becoming chartered and registering as a physiotherapist
Upon completing an undergraduate degree programme, a budding physiotherapist must register with the CSP, or Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. This is a national body that governs standards within the profession, and obtaining a license from them is essential to work as a professional physiotherapist. This provides the general public with the confidence that the physio they are seeing has been trained to a high standard and is part of a regulatory committee that ensures good practice.
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