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What makes a good physiotherapist?

By Daniel Allard

Jobs in physiotherapy can be incredibly rewarding. But it's not the right career choice for everyone. Here's our list of the top six personal qualities we think you need to be a top-notch physiotherapist...

Physiotherapists should be empathetic

This is number one on the list for a very good reason. It's probably one of the most important qualities to have if you're going to succeed as a physiotherapist. You'll be working with many patients who are having to deal with injuries or health issues that have impacted hugely on their lives. You need to understand how they're feeling – not just the physical side of things, but also the effect on their emotional wellbeing. 

Physiotherapists should have interpersonal skills

Are you a good communicator? You'll need to be if you want to make a success of your physiotherapy career. You don't have to be a born extrovert, but you do need to develop an ability to connect and engage with patients of all ages from all types of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It's not just about being able to talk to them about their condition; it's also about putting them at ease and giving them confidence. 

Physiotherapists should have an organised mind

Physiotherapy jobs are demanding. There's always lots going on and you need to stay on top of things. That means having excellent time management, organisation and problem-solving skills, as well as meticulous attention to detail. Keeping good patient records is a key part of a physiotherapy role, not least because you'll be dealing with many long-term care plans. You also need to be able to stay cool, calm and collected when you're under pressure. 

Physiotherapists should have adaptability

As a physiotherapist, you'll be dealing with a wide variety of patients, conditions and situations, so you can't be too set in your ways. One day you might be dealing with the victim of a road accident. The next day it might be an elderly person with limited mobility or someone with a long-term disability. You need to be versatile and adapt your approach to the patient and the circumstances. 

Physiotherapists should have team spirit

Most physiotherapists work with patients on a one-to-one basis. But that doesn't mean you're a lone wolf. You'll often be part of a multi-disciplinary team, which may include nurses, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and mental health specialists. Even if you're not formally part of a team, you'll need to be able to interact effectively and positively with colleagues to ensure the patient receives the best quality of 'joined up' care. 

Physiotherapists should have a desire to learn

As with most healthcare professions, physiotherapy jobs involve continuous learning and personal development. As well as adding to your professional knowledge and skills, you need to stay up to speed with the latest innovations, research, techniques, trends and best practice guidelines. A personal development plan (PDP) can help you evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying your career goals and how best to achieve them.