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Job Description

If you've ever sprained your ankle or broken your arm, you'll know that it takes a while to rehabilitate the joints and muscles and get them working properly again. Worse, if the limb is not exercised and encouraged to function normally, it might not work as well as it used to. This can affect a person's physical and mental health.

Physiotherapists help people who have been ill or injured return to a healthy life. Their patients, or clients, include people who have sports or work-related injuries, have been through serious car accidents, and those who are coping with diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

They assess the client, design a treatment plan and discuss it with the patient. Then, over the course of several visits, they administer treatment. The treatment could involve hands-on therapy (such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilization) or the use of hot and cold packs, ultrasound, lasers, electrotherapy, and other modalities.

In addition, physiotherapists teach patients specific stretches and exercises that allow them to take a more active role in the therapy process. Therapists monitor their patient's progress. They also document each step of the treatment process and send reports to doctors, insurance companies and employers.

More and more physiotherapy services are being delivered by physiotherapists who work in community-setting private clinics.

Interesting Facts

  • In 2003, there were 515 registered physiotherapists in Nova Scotia with almost half working in private practice.
  • Physiotherapy is the sixth largest and one of the fastest growing health care professions in Canada.

Working Conditions

Physiotherapists work in hospitals, homes, publicly funded clinics, privately funded clinics, and nursing homes, schools for physically challenged children, athletic departments, community health centres and rehabilitation centres. Physiotherapy can be a physically demanding job. Most work 8-10 hours a day and 40-60 hours a week.


$46 000 - $58 000 a year.


(a) Personal Characteristics

Excellent manual skills are needed because of the hands-on therapy. Good people skills are a must because a physiotherapist is responsible for motivating, educating and empathizing with patients and other health-care professionals. The ability to problem solve is also key.

(b) High School

A high school diploma with an emphasis on English, math, biology, chemistry, physics, and physical and health education is an essential beginning. Admission requirements for post-secondary training should be checked carefully.

(c) Post Secondary

For admission to physical therapy programs, most schools require successful completion of two years of undergraduate studies including scienc e and math courses. Then, you must complete at least a bachelor's degree in physiotherapy. Starting in 2010, universities in Canada will no longer offer bachelor's degrees in physical therapy. Anyone who wants to be a physiotherapist will have to complete a master's degree. Dalhousie University's entry-level masters program commences in 2006. Dalhousie University offers Atlantic Canada's only physiotherapy program. To get into a masters program, you will need to complete a 4 year undergraduate program including courses in areas like biology, physics, and chemistry.

(d) Certification

All physiotherapists must complete the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) and be licensed by the College of Physiotherapists in their province. In Nova Scotia, call or email the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists (902-454-0158 or nsphysio@ns.sympatico.ca)

Future Prospects

Although there was a 30% increase in the number of physiotherapists between 1989 & 1997, there is a need for more physiotherapists. Factors like an aging population, life spans and less active lifestyles suggest the need for more in the future.

Related Jobs

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Physiotherapy Assistant
  • Massage Therapist


What Can I do Now?

  • Explore websites
  • Read testimonials (Career Cruising)
  • Interview/job shadow a physiotherapist in your local area
  • Have a physiotherapist come to your class/school
  • Choose the high school subjects needed to start your path to this career. Aim to achieve high grades.
  • Volunteer in health related professions.

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