Vancouver Career Spotlight: Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist)

Vancouver Career Spotlight is an interview-style blog series that features the amazing professionals that live and work in the Greater Vancouver area. Our vision is to showcase the many career opportunities that exist in Vancouver and provide inspiration to the future generation of workers and career changers.

Parke Prodan is a Registered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) in Vancouver.  She obtained her Bachelor of Kinesiology and Master of Physical Therapy from the University of British Columbia.


Why did you choose this career path?

As an avid athlete growing up, I spent a lot of time at the Physiotherapy clinic as a patient. I can remember sitting in the clinic one morning, looking around and thinking, “I hope someday I could do this everyday for work.” The idea of being able to show up to work everyday to help other people feel better and get back to doing the things they love, not having to sit at a desk all day behind a computer screen and getting to interact with people is such a rewarding career.

What are your main responsibilities?

Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals with a significant role in health promotion and treatment of injury and disease. They assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability. They apply an evidence based approach to help people achieve their health goals, in particular focusing on the musculoskeletal (bones, joints and soft tissues), neurological (the brain and nervous system), cardiorespiratory (heart, blood circulation and respiratory system) and multi-systems. Within these systems, physiotherapists can practice in areas that include paediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, women’s health, pain, critical care, wound care, occupational health and sports medicine, to name a few.

What are the opportunities for career growth and advancement? 

The great thing about physiotherapy that a lot of people don’t know is how many different areas of practice there are. First of all, the main breakdown is between private and public practice. Public practice physiotherapists work mainly in areas like hospitals, community care or child development centres while private practice physiotherapists work primarily in private clinics. Both areas of practice have pros/cons and have many similarities and differences as well. Being able to be exposed and gain experience in both areas during clinical placements during an Master of Physical Therapy program is a great opportunity to try different areas out and see what suits you best.

What kind of person would like a career as a Physiotherapist? 

Some qualities that are important in this career field are excellent communication skills, ability to work in a team, problem-solving skills as well as initiative and patience.

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What is a common misconception people have about this career? 

“Only athletes need physiotherapists.” There are so many opportunities and different areas of practice where you can work with all kinds of people and conditions, including paediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, women’s health, pain, critical care, wound care, occupational health, sports medicine and more.

What school subjects would a person in this career typically excel in?

Typical high school courses which would be Biology, Chemistry, Physics and English. At the university level, Anatomy, Physiology and Biomechanics are important. I would recommend having a look at each school’s entry requirements as they can differ.

What type of education would you typically need to work as a Physiotherapist?

In order to be eligible to apply to most physiotherapy programs in Canada, you will need to have completed a recognized 4 year Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. A large percentage of physiotherapists have some background in sport science before starting the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) program. I completed a Bachelor of Kinesiology from UBC. I was lucky in the sense that I knew I wanted to be a physiotherapist since I was in high school so I was able to research the steps on how I wanted to get there early on. However, it is not required to come from a sport science background. As long as you meet the entry requirements for whichever MPT program you are applying to, that is all that matters.

Program graduates are eligible to write the national Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) which is a requirement in most provinces to register and work as a physiotherapist.

What are the best programs to get this education?

There are fifteen universities that offer a professional Master’s degree in physiotherapy in Canada – ten in English; five in French. The only program in British Columbia is at the University of British Columbia. Admission to the UBC Master of Physical Therapy Program is highly competitive, like other schools, and it is common for people to apply multiple times before being admitted.

What types of organizations would typically hire a Physiotherapist?

The main organizations that hire physiotherapists are clinics and hospitals.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career as a Physiotherapist?

If physiotherapy is something you think you might be interested in, my advice would be to reach out to a physiotherapist in your community, either in private or public practice, and arrange a shadow visit. Try arranging 3 or 4 visits with different therapists to get a feel for what the job is all about.

I hope you enjoyed this Career Spotlight interview about the physiotherapy (physical therapy) career track. Below are additional resources if you’re interested in researching this career further. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you’re interested in seeing if this career is right for you, send us a message here, and let’s help you find a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and goals.


More information about Physiotherapists in BC:

WorkBC – Physiotherapists (earnings, workforce statistics, related careers, etc.)

Canadian Physiotherapy Association

Education Programs (in the Greater Vancouver area):

University of British Columbia

Crossroads Career Audit Email Course

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