Physiotherapist: a career for the middle aged?
June 14, 2014 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Is physiotherapy a viable career to take up in your thirties?

I am 35 and considering a career change. I had an accident and now I am interested in the human body and physiotherapy. The most practical program for me to join would start fall 2015 and run 2 years, this would have me starting a physiotherapy career at age 38. Is this viable?

My kid would be 10 then and I'm not planning others, so child rearing/child care isn't a concern. I am most concerned about injury and if 50 and 60 year olds that take care of their health would be physically capable of performing the work. I've definitely seen hospital rehab staff in their 50s but being union might make me want to put my eye out, also they don't tend to do heavy manual manipulation. I would be more interested in private practice and sports medicine.
posted by crazycanuck to Work & Money (3 answers total)
My mother is a retired physical therapist and she worked into her mid to late 60s, retiring just a few years ago. She never had problems, and she is slender, with a slight build. Physical therapists work with assistants, aides, and orderlies. Based on the way she talked about it, the question of whether you'd be physically capable shouldn't be a major issue.

She worked mainly at nursing homes. The circumstances might be different in sports medicine. I don't know.
posted by umbĂș at 8:29 PM on June 14, 2014

As a 30-something about to start physiotherapy school this fall, I think it is a career plenty viable to start in your 30s. I had to shadow in multiple settings, including inpatient, neuro and sports before applying to schools. There are different levels/types of physical involvement when treating a patient, depending on the setting (hospital, skilled nursing facility, private practice, etc.). It would be wise, and perhaps required, for you to spend time shadowing/volunteering at various places in order to get a better idea of the level of work involved.

Additionally, you can transition to less physical aspects of physiotherapy as you get older. You can manage a physiotherapy practice, get involved in research, or teach. Those are all examples that I've encountered during my time shadowing.

One last thing - think of your career as a physiotherapist as yet another reason to stay fit and strong and able into your later years. One thing I see time and time again in the hospital is that age is really but a number. There are 50-year-olds that look like they're 70, and vice versa. It really has to do with your lifestyle, not so much how many days you've spent on this earth.

Good luck to you! Physiotherapy is a wonderful career.
posted by sweetpotato at 10:28 PM on June 14, 2014

Like nursing, PT as a rule is a very physical job. There are exceptions and it's not like everyone reaches a certain age and is no longer able to do a physical job. But the job involves a lot of moving other people's weight around and the older you are the more you will need to protect yourself by ensuring you raise the bed to the right level and position yourself and the patient safely. As long as you prioritize that and don't let people rush you into skipping precautions, you should be okay.
posted by gingerest at 4:31 AM on June 15, 2014

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