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Physical Therapist Skills You Need to Succeed

You may already have a few physical therapist skills under your belt, but there are skills for physical therapy you’ll probably need to work on. The skills needed to become a physical therapist go beyond hard, academic skills. Soft skills are a must in every industry, and they’re especially important in the healthcare field. Below are the necessary soft skills for physical therapy. 

1. Communication

communicate

Listening, making eye contact, and giving clear directions are imperative to being a successful physical therapist. When you communicate understanding and encourage patients to ask follow-up questions, you’re letting them know you care and ensuring they know the steps to be their best selves. By the way, nonverbal and written communication are included in this and are a crucial part of being a communicative physical therapist.

2. Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness

It’s important to be compassionate to patients. Practice being open-minded to their personal situations and remain professional at all times. Every client is different, after all. Open-mindedness also applies to being open to new ideas and treatments in your practice.  Healthcare is always changing and evolving, so be prepared to change and evolve your practices with it.

3. Confidence

Patients want to know they can rely on you, so carry yourself with as much confidence as you can! When you are confident, your patients will notice. Appearing confident will help with retention, referrals, and treatment. Plus, it will display good leadership qualities in your line of work. However, don’t let your confidence be confused with arrogance. Stay balanced and be humble to create positive patient outcomes.

4. Multitasking

multitasking

Multitasking is a great soft skill to ensure you can handle multiple physical therapy tasks at once. You’ll have to juggle multiple patients with minimal supervision often. Physical therapists need to be on top of providing thorough, adequate care and creating individual treatment plans for patients to progress and see improvement. 

5. Observational

bacteria looking in microscope

A physical therapist needs to have an eye for detail. Observing your patients’ nonverbal cues, their past medical history, their movements, and their progress is crucial to crafting their treatment plan and can even lead to improving their recovery timeline.

6. Resilience

Being in healthcare is challenging, and it’s not going to always come easy. You have to be resilient to be a physical therapist. When one exercise or machine isn’t working, get resourceful. How can your patient do this exercise at home? How can you change their treatment plan to see more results? While there may be some hurdles on the way, keep going and be the best PT you can be.

A physical therapist needs stamina and experience

Physical stamina is an important skill most PTs need to be successful. Being a PT is physically demanding, and you’ll be on your feet working with equipment, conducting and showcasing exercises, and providing massages to patients. On the other hand, PTs should be ambitious, aiming to find experience in specialties like sports therapy, different equipment, pain management, hydrotherapy, and more. The more you can familiarize yourself and expose yourself to knowledge and hands-on work, the better PT you’ll be.

Work on your hard and soft PT skills with Picmonic

picmonic usmle step 1 study resources

If you’re a PT student or on the way to taking the NPTE® board exam, Picmonic is a great tool to improve both your academic and soft skills! Use Picmonic’s features to improve knowledge retention and recall, test scoring, and confidence in your knowledge. Picmonic’s picture mnemonics, daily quizzing, study guides, and personalized dashboard will aid with being a confident, knowledgeable PT, allowing you to implement the knowledge you learned in your everyday practice.

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