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How Do I Get Physiotherapy Work Experience?

Tracey Sandilands
Tracey Sandilands

You can obtain physiotherapy work experience through a number of channels, including volunteerism, internships, per diem jobs or certain temporary posts called locum tenens positions. Each of these options provides the physical therapy graduate with future employment opportunities, career experience and on-the-job training. If you are looking to gain experience, you can sign up with a variety of agencies that specialize in placing physiotherapists in these types of positions.

The discipline of physiotherapy, which is called physical therapy in some places, requires both training and experience for you to be successful. Many physiotherapists are self-employed and practice in outpatient clinics and hospitals or work with private clients in their homes. To develop an active client base, you need physiotherapy work experience that results in contactable references, and this is where volunteerism can be helpful.

A physiotherapist working with a client.
A physiotherapist working with a client.

Physiotherapists can volunteer their skills and time for institutions such as homes for the elderly and nonprofit organizations, or they can gain valuable job experience by volunteering. Hospitals and clinics in the developing world are poorly resourced and desperately need volunteer physical therapists. This can be a rewarding option for any student who needs to gain physiotherapy work experience and wants to help others at the same time. Organizations that specialize in volunteer placement offer the chance for you to help rehabilitate disabled children and adults while learning from experienced physiotherapists. Possible work environments include polio and leprosy clinics in India, hospitals in Ghana and a burns unit in Bolivia.

Internships are a viable option for graduates who want to gain physiotherapy work experience, either at home or abroad. Some internships are paid and others are not, but both types offer the chance to gain valuable experience and references. This can lead to employment opportunities after you have proved your ability. Several agencies exist that offer physiotherapy internships around the world.

Per diem jobs are part-time employment, so in this situation, you might work two days a week for an outpatient clinic and one day per week for a hospital. This offers an excellent opportunity for qualified physiotherapists to get job experience. Healthcare staffing agencies usually recruit for these positions, so the first step toward finding a per diem job is to sign up with several of these agencies. To register with an agency, you typically will need to provide verification of your license to practice and other documentation. You might also have to give additional information that is required by your local occupational health and safety authority.

Locum tenens positions provide more ways to get physiotherapy work experience. A locum tenens position is a short-term position in which you fill in for a physiotherapist who is ill, on vacation or away from work for any other reason. You must be fully qualified to take a locum tenens position, so this is a good opportunity for you to gain job experience after you graduate from college. Healthcare staffing agencies recruit for these positions regularly, so signing up with an agency could put you in line for this kind of work.

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    • A physiotherapist working with a client.
      A physiotherapist working with a client.