Physical therapists dedicate their careers to working one-on-one with patients who have mobility problems. Upon retirement, these health care professionals might seek rewarding and fulfilling part-time or volunteer work. Many opportunities for retirees can incorporate the skills they used during their physical therapy careers – compassion, interpersonal skills and patience. This work can help to ease the transition from full-time physical therapy work to retirement.
Senior Center Activities Director/Volunteer
Whether you choose to volunteer at your local senior center or take on a full-time position, this experience can remind you of your physical therapy career in a more relaxed environment.
As a senior center activities director or volunteer, you are responsible for designing engaging and age-appropriate activities to keep seniors active both mentally and physically. With a background in physical therapy, you are knowledgeable about the physical limitations of the elderly, which can help you choose programs that suit their needs.
Moreover, you can use your physical therapy expertise to assist seniors who struggle to complete the activities. This position promotes good health and exercise for the aging population.
Exercise Consultant Role
Use your physical therapy knowledge to help people in your community build an exercise plan appropriate for their age and activity level. As a physical therapist, you worked with patients with mobility problems to develop fitness and nutrition programs to fit their lifestyle. Use these skills after retirement to build personalized fitness plans for clients.
You can work as a consultant at a gym or community center, or you can simply work out of your home and visit with patients to assess their mobility and exercise capabilities before designing a plan that suits their lifestyle.
School Volunteer Opportunities
As some children grow, they experience physical developmental problems that can hinder their mobility and decrease their self-confidence in the classroom and beyond. Many schools do not have the resources to have a physical therapist on staff, and parents might not even know who can help their children.
Talk to your area's school superintendent about volunteering or working part-time as a physical therapist for the district's students. You can work with students one-on-one or in small groups to teach them how to improve their mobility and overcome their developmental delays. Naturally, this position will require many of the skills you used during your physical therapy career.
Are There Other Job Options?
There are a number of non-clinical and nontraditional job options for retired physical therapists. Blogging or writing about health and being a health influencer are all options. People spend a lot of time online searching about topics related to physical therapy and improving their physical quality of life. Social media can provide a powerful platform for reaching those people who are seeking your expertise.
If working with seniors or others sounds appealing outside of a group setting there is also the chance to work on a mobile outpatient basis. Offering this service would allow you to work one-on-one with patients directly in their homes. Another possible option is to work with animals, although this may require some additional education.
There are many opportunities for you to apply your physical therapy skills to help a wide variety of people after retirement. The benefit of being retired is that you can enjoy a more flexible schedule and explore volunteer opportunities or passion projects. It simply depends on your interests and where you would like to focus because there are many people and pets that need your skills.
Some other examples of jobs for physical therapists that are in non-clinical settings include working as a life coach, trainer, medical writer or wellness manager.
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.