From Australia to South Africa and Chile to Vietnam, there are many opportunities to intern abroad in physical therapy all over the world. Physical therapy internships abroad provide the chance to help people rehabilitate after severe accidents and regain strength in order to shorten recovery time. In addition, physical therapy interns will work with people from different cultures and learn about healthcare in another country. Plus, there isn’t much that’s better than gaining international experience while helping people with disabilities or injuries at the same time!
Why Intern Abroad
Physical therapy, or physiotherapy, is a rapidly growing part of the healthcare industry in the United States, with over 90,000 students and professionals participating in The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), but it is also a popular profession in many other countries around the world. Surprisingly, in some countries physical therapy isn’t even a recognized degree or professional field, despite a high need for therapists to assist patients to a speedy recovery. So, by interning in physical therapy abroad, you could be laying the groundwork for the field in a country with lesser knowledge or experience.
With or without a degree or certification, physical therapy internships abroad provide valuable knowledge and experience to complement a current or future career as a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant. Whether you’re learning to work with children, adults, or both, interning in physical therapy will help you develop the skills you need to provide persons with disabilities or injuries a higher quality of life, movement potential, and functional ability.
There are a broad range of locations in which you can intern in physical therapy abroad, and the types of physical therapy internships will vary depending on the location you choose. Physical therapy internships will likely provide very structured and career-like atmospheres in most Western nations such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe and North America, like Spain and Canada.
On the other hand, physical therapy internships in developing nations are plentiful, but the atmosphere is likely to be much different, though no less enriching. These internships abroad often include work in local clinics and hospitals or less formal locations where there is a shortage of physical therapy skills. Developing nations with opportunities to intern in physical therapy include countries such as Nicaragua and Nepal.
The type of physical therapy internship will vary based on the area or city in which you might work (i.e. whether you’re in an urban or rural location). In Nicaragua, you could work in a small clinic where physical therapy professionals or volunteers are in short supply, which provides a unique, often one-on-one experience. Whereas internship opportunities in Cape Town could be customized to fit your career goals, offering internship placements working alongside established physical therapists in a hospital or clinic.
Internships in physical therapy can vary from working in a local clinic where physical therapists or assistants are in high demand to experiencing working in a busy, modern hospital. Public and private clinics and hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, religious centers, and community centers are all examples of places that offer services related to physical therapy. Physical therapy internships will often involve working alongside a professional and or with a group of other interns or students.
Some unique opportunities to intern in physical therapy abroad might include working in a children’s center with youth that are undergoing treatment for HIV/AIDS or assisting a clinic in developing physical and occupational therapy programs. Internship opportunities are also available related to pediatric physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, orthopedic physical therapy, musculoskeletal/Sports physical therapy, and geriatric physical therapy.
Both full-time and part-time physical therapy internship placements can be acquired year-round. Depending on the organization you work with or the institution you intern at, you may or may not need previous experience in physical therapy to fulfill an internship placement. Internships in physical therapy are typically available for beginners as well as more experienced professionals. To intern in physical therapy abroad, you should have an interest in physical therapy or the healthcare field as well as good communication skills and a knack for working with people.
While international experience is not necessarily required for a career in physical therapy, it goes a long way in what happens to be an increasingly competitive field. The skills one can develop by learning about healthcare in other cultures, how to communicate with people in another country, and differences and similarities between human needs across the world are only attainable through international experiences, such as internship programs.
Interns also have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of placements and locations when deciding to intern abroad in physical therapy, which allows each intern to choose a placement and location that will provide experience directly related to his or her career, academic, or personal goals.