A lead physical therapist position involves overseeing the delivery of care to patients and families in the therapist's hospital or medical center. The lead physical therapist monitors the quality of care patients receive, instructs the caregivers and family members, and helps develop a strategy and routine for the patients that includes final discharge from the care center. The lead physical therapist works closely with the medical staff, including advising (and sometimes supervising) different doctors, staff members, employees, volunteers, and other relevant caregivers the patients interact with in their care. Work hours vary depending on the needs of the medical care center; while nights and weekends are typically "off hours," it is expected that the lead therapist is available to staff during these times.
A strong education in the principles and practices of physical therapy and speech-language pathology are required for this position. Lead physical therapists must also be competent in running necessary medical equipment, as well as have leadership and communication skills to effectively supervise treatment of patients. A high level of efficiency is demanded of the lead physical therapist so they can effectively allocate limited resources, maintain a positive work environment, and minimize any conflicts or issues that arise during patient care.
Educational requirements for the job typically include a bachelor's degree in physical therapy, as well as the necessary licensing requirements for practicing physical therapy in the state of the employer. Previous work experience of no less than two years as a staff therapist is usually required, though three or more years' experience is generally preferred. While not required, it is usually preferred that the lead physical therapist has some managerial or supervisory experience.
Lead Physical Therapist (PT) Tasks
- Discharge patient from physical therapy when projected outcomes have been attained and provide for follow-up care or referrals.
- Administer manual exercises, massage or traction to help relieve pain, increase patient strength or decrease or prevent deformity.
- Record prognosis, treatment, response and progress in patient's chart or computer database.
- As a clinician, lead staff and give technical direction with evaluations and treatment of patients.