Is physiotherapy the right career?
It’s a big decision to choose a career, so unless you have always known what you wanted to do it is worth finding out as much as you can about it.
Physiotherapy is the most popular degree course in the UK and the last numbers I heard were about 18 applicants for every place. This means it is very competitive and the universities can be picky in who they choose to admit.
If you are going to succeed in getting onto a physiotherapy course you will need to have a combination of academic achievement and personal experience and initiative.
Remember, the admissions people need something to single you out as an outstanding candidate in some way, or they may pass you over.
You may want to look at your strengths and weaknesses in the following categories: (on this page)
Get a good understanding of physiotherapy before you go near that UCAS application form.
Full Time Programmes
Three or four years of full-time study is typical to become a Chartered Physiotherapist. There is a large amount of self-directed study, and clinical placements of 4-6 weeks, which may not near where you live or study.
This is a “full-time” programme and you must be certain of your your ability to commit yourself completely for the years the courses require.
Part Time Programmes
Part-time physiotherapy study programmes do exist in the UK, and some have been set up for physiotherapy assistants who wish to train.
Accelerated physiotherapy programmes offer the ability to acquire a licence to practice physiotherapy if you have certain qualifications. A degree in a relevant discipline such as a biological science, psychology or sports science, (usually first class or upper second class degree level), may make you eligible. Successful graduates will be eligible to apply for state registration and membership of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
The minimum entry requirements are the same as those for all degree programmes. There is strong competition for places and conditional offers of a place are set higher than the minimum. A variety of qualifications may be accepted and you need to check directly with the individual university before you apply.
More physiotherapy qualifying places have become available due to the Government’s NHS Plan but competition for places is likely to continue.
Admissions tutors have a lot of candidates to choose from so can afford to be picky.
“Just” academic qualifications may not be enough and you may have to work on other aspects of your life which show initiative and involvement in the life of the community. This means things you choose to do which you do not have to, such as extra study, service or activities. They may show leadership, proactivity and persistence, giving the picture of a rounded person who has lots of parts to him or her.
As well as having the ability to cope with the academic demands of an honours degree course, admissions tutors look for evidence of other qualities and skills in prospective students:
Good presentation of yourself is vital as many people deciding on your future will have a very short time of contact with you. You need to impress them suitably in a short time.
Polite, correct and well-written letters make a lot of difference, as sub-standard efforts are immediately obvious. While you may need to be persistent on the ‘phone at times, remember the people at the other end are fielding hundreds of calls at certain times of the year.
Application forms need to be carefully filled out and attention paid to what exactly is asked for, with appropriate documents and payment.
If you should go for interview then a conservative appearance will help persuade the listeners and lookers that you are person who could be trusted with the welfare of often vulnerable people.
Good social skills are obvious and the absence of them gives immediate cause for concern. Are you familiar with meeting people in positions of influence over you? You can practice your style with others you may know, who will often be happy to give advice.
Sports physiotherapy is a very small part indeed of the physiotherapy spectrum. Most physios work in other clinical areas and never have any sports experience. If you are very keen on sports, be aware of a few thoughts: