Physiotherapists help people regain movement and function after they have been affected by an injury, disability or health condition. They also give advice on how to prevent injuries.
Physiotherapists need to be registered with the New Zealand Physiotherapy Board and have a current Annual Practising Certificate.
Physiotherapists may do some or all of the following:
- assess and diagnose patients' injuries or functional problems, and decide on treatment
- use a range of treatments to reduce pain and improve movement
- plan exercises for patients to improve their strength and fitness
- keep records of patients' progress
- educate people on how to prevent further injury
- help rehabilitate people who have suffered from strokes or accidents
- educate caregivers and family about the patient's physiotherapy programme.
To specialise in a particular area of physiotherapy, such as working with older adults, you need to complete a:
- portfolio assessment
- practical clinical assessment
- panel review with The New Zealand Physiotherapy Board.
- The New Zealand Physiotherapy Board website - information sheet on registration as a physiotherapy specialist (PDF - 169KB)
Physiotherapists need to be reasonably fit and healthy as they treat injuries and diseases using physical methods such as massage, movement and exercise.
Useful experience for physiotherapists includes:
- work as a nurse aide or physiotherapy assistant
- occupational health nursing
- work as a personal trainer
- other work in the health sector.
Physiotherapists need to be:
- supportive and positive
- able to gain people's trust
- able to work well in a team
- good listeners and communicators
- able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
- good at planning and organising.
Physiotherapists need to have:
- knowledge of physiotherapy methods and equipment
- knowledge of the biomedical sciences, including anatomy, physiology and pathology
- understanding of movement, injuries and disabilities, and the ageing process
- skill in performing exercises and techniques that increase movement and flexibility, and reduce pain
- general knowledge of any medical conditions that may affect the treatment given.
- usually work regular business hours but may also work weekends and be on call
- work at various locations such as private and public practices, hospitals, sports training grounds, rehabilitation centres, community centres, and in patients' homes.
NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include physical education, health, biology, chemistry, physics and maths.
Physiotherapists may progress to:
- work in managerial positions
- work in teaching and research roles
- set up their own clinics.
Physiotherapists may specialise in areas such as:
- cardiorespiratory – diseases of the heart and lungs
- hand therapy – elbow-to-fingertip injuries
- musculoskeletal – injuries to bones and connective tissues
- neurology – disorders of the nervous system such as autism
- occupational health – promoting health and wellbeing at work
- paediatrics – helping children with a physical disability
- working with older adults – helping to increase movement and prevent or fix injury
- helping people to manage chronic pain – for example, from arthritis
- sports injuries.
Years Of Training4 years of training required.
To become a physiotherapist you need a Bachelor of Physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy degrees are available from Auckland University of Technology (AUT), University of Otago, and Wintec.
All courses take four years and consist of a first year studying health science then three years studying physiotherapy.
- Auckland University of Technology website - information about the Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)
- University of Otago website - information about the Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- Wintec website - information about the Bachelor of Physiotherapy
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.