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Overview

Find out more about what a career as a physiotherapist specialising in rheumatology looks like.

Physiotherapists are members of the multidisciplinary team involved in the treatment and management of people with arthritis and other conditions.

They work to ensure patients' short and long-term needs are addressed and that they feel supported. They work closely with team colleagues such as occupational therapists, podiatrists and orthoptists.

Information

Qualifications

To become a qualified physiotherapist, you'll either need to do a three-year degree or, if you already have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, you can do a two-year accelerated Masters. Degree apprenticeships are also available. Completing your degree will involve a minimum of 1,000 hours clinical work through placements.

To be a physiotherapist you'll need to be happy being hands-on with patients, able to motivate people and willing to work alone or in a team.

If you're working in paediatric and adolescent rheumatology, you’ll need skills to communicate effectively with the whole family, including children, young people and adults.

Pathway

After qualification the most common route is to enter the NHS as a band 5 and do a lot of learning on the job, usually working in a rotational post that will give you a core understanding of the different physiotherapy specialties. You'll get to experience rheumatology as part of an adult musculoskeletal rotation. Alternatively, some newly qualified physiotherapists might start their career in private practice.

If you’d like to go into paediatric and adolescent practice, the most common route is to experience a band 5 rotation in this area and gain knowledge before applying for a specialist senior role. There are also lots of postgraduate courses in paediatric and adolescent physiotherapy that can help build your knowledge.

Specialist paediatric and adolescent rheumatology roles are usually only found in bigger childrens' hospitals, however many general paediatric and adolescent physiotherapy jobs include rheumatology within them.

With further training, study and experience you can widen your skills and seniority in rheumatology. Clinical research and teaching are also other important areas you may choose to develop skills in.

Training opportunities

As a physiotherapist you'll need to participate in continuing professional development, and you must be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council. You’ll need to keep your skills up to date and understand the latest development in research and practice.

As well as in-house opportunities within your hospital or trust, you can also look for events and conferences run by BSR, the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

A typical week

You'll see outpatients during appointments and clinics, assess their joints and muscles and work out individual treatment programmes to help patients reach their full potential. You could be treating patients in a hydrotherapy pool or using different gym equipment.

If treating children and young people, you might have to visit their school to advise staff on how to ensure their pupil can thrive in a school environment with their rheumatology condition.

You’ll be working with a multidisciplinary team, coming to joint decisions about the best treatment options for your patients.

Resources

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

The Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists