Resume Template: Physical Therapist

Life requires movement.

When a person experiences pain or injury while carrying out everyday actions, it can be challenging to complete simple tasks.

As a physical therapist, you understand the impact physical pain can have on someone’s everyday life.

You understand the human body, how to assess it, and how particular exercise plans can improve or heal physical issues for your patients.

Unlike other medical professionals, you spend long periods of time working with and getting to know your patients.

While a pleasant bedside manner isn’t required in your field, it is essential to gain and maintain patients to fill your schedule.

The treatments you prescribe require work and consistency from your patients because building muscle memory and achieving muscle growth doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes practice and patience to get results.

The same is true for writing an impressive physical therapist resume.

If you haven’t been keeping up with your resume writing skills because you’ve been busy keeping up with the latest medical journals and taking care of patients, we understand.

Consider this a refresher course to get your resume writing abilities up to speed so you can land your next job and get back to doing what you do best.

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample physical therapist resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best physical therapist resume you possibly can.

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Physical Therapist Resume  (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Peggy Lee
[email protected]
1 (802) 482-0420
Rutland, VT 05702

Summary Statement:

Physical Therapist: Highly qualified and licensed Physical Therapist specialized in trauma recovery. Proactive caregiver with interpersonal skills and ability to apply critical thinking to find solutions. Have expertise in the areas of manual manipulation and transfer assistance. Dedicated to rehabilitation and fostering a highly positive patient experience.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Treatment Plans
  • Patient Evaluations
  • Tissue Massage
  • Kinesiology
  • Empathy
  • Strong Communication
  • Leadership
  • Documentation
  • Patient Assessments
  • Active Listening
  • Strength and Coordination
  • Interpersonal Skills

Professional Experience:

Foster Rehabilitation, Rutland, VT
Physical Therapist | October 2016 – Present

  • Provided focused care to patients suffering from the effects of injury/trauma
  • Formulated individualized therapy treatment plans
  • Instructed patients in exercises, skills, and functions, and assisted in transfers
  • Maintained records of patient concerns, progress, and psychological state
  • Prepared for therapy sessions by arranging treatment area according to patient needs

Meadow Physical Therapy. Rutland, VT
Physical Therapist | January 2014 – August 2016

  • Evaluated and treated patient injuries, including sports injuries
  • Held one-on-one treatment sessions with flexible timetables according to specific patient needs
  • Led patients in a variety of therapeutic exercises, with a focus on complete independence
  • Counseled patients on how to promote wellness and health
  • Helped to plan new treatment programs and marketing strategies

Sunrise HomeCare, Lyndon, VT
Assistant Physical Therapist | June 2012 – December 2013

  • Assisted elderly patients in increasing physical mobility through exercise and manual manipulation
  • Documented patient status and progress
  • Offered emotional support to patients when appropriate/needed
  • Prescribed therapeutic regimens and exercises

Education/Certifications

Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT)
The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT,
Class of 2012

Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
Northern Vermont University at Lyndon, Lyndon, VT
Class of 2009

Licensed Physical Therapist with the State of Vermont
2012

Formatting Your Physical Therapist Resume

As a physical therapist, you understand the importance of form.

You can explain an exercise to a patient, but if the activity isn’t carried out correctly, it won’t do its job or it could even end up injuring a patient further.

When writing a physical therapist resume, you can say all the right things, but if the format is off nothing you say will land with a hiring manager.

People only spend about 6 seconds reviewing the resumes they receive, and the first thing they notice is how well the resume is structured and laid out.

The first visual decision you will make when writing your resume is to select a font that will grab the attention of your audience.

However, don’t opt for a flashy font – stick with something legible that will create a professional and straightforward look.

The most basic tool in creating a visually appealing resume is bullet points.

Bullet points allow for space and separation between sections and sentences to create the appearance of a resume that is easy to follow and comprehend.

When you space things out evenly, it is easier for more significant details to stand out on the page and grab attention right away.

Make sure that you are always listing your most recent and impressive accomplishments first by utilizing reverse chronological order.

These basics are the consistent fundamentals found in nearly all acceptable resume formats because they draw people in and allow the information to speak for itself.

Start With Your Resume Summary

The first section of your resume is going to be a concise summary (two to three sentences) describing yourself as a physical therapist.

If you’ve been in the workforce for some time, you might be more familiar with an “objective” as the first section of a resume.

It is important to note that the resume objective is currently being done away with and replaced by a resume summary.

The main reason for this transition is because most objective statements provide information that is generally already apparent when you apply for a job, especially online.

A resume summary gives hiring managers a bit more insight as to who you are and if you are the right candidate for them.

While resume summaries are the first section of a resume, it is possible to struggle with them the most due to their subjectivity and briefness.

If you need to move on to other sections of your physical therapist resume and loop back around to your summary, it can sometimes make the world of difference.

Yes!

Highly qualified and licensed Physical Therapist specializing in trauma recovery. Proactive caregiver with interpersonal skills and ability to apply critical thinking to find solutions. Expertise in the areas of manual manipulation and transfer assistance. Dedicated to rehabilitation and fostering a highly positive patient experience.

No!

Physical Therapist specializing in trauma recovery. Caring and good with people, while also smart and critical. Good with manual manipulation and transfer assistance. Works hard for patients.

The “Yes!” example utilizes rich and varied diction to show off the skills the candidate feels most comfortable with while engaging the reader with specifics.

The “No!” example goes over the same details as the first example, though it lacks strong keywords that would genuinely highlight the candidate’s strengths.

PRO TIP: When writing your resume summary, it can be challenging to narrow down your strengths and abilities to just a few sentences. Try to start by asking yourself what the most important characteristics and goals are for a great physical therapist. Then ask yourself which of those characteristics you meet/exceed, and what goals you value most.

Key Accomplishments/ Skills & Qualifications

One of the first things a hiring manager looks for in a resume is your skills and qualifications section.

Different hospitals and companies are searching for specific abilities and strengths within candidates.

It is essential to include a section that lists your skills in a simplistic and straightforward way.

Qualifications/Areas of Expertise

  • Treatment Plans
  • Patient Evaluations
  • Tissue Massage
  • Kinesiology
  • Empathy
  • Strong Communication
  • Leadership
  • Documentation
  • Patient Assessments
  • Active Listening
  • Strength and Coordination
  • Interpersonal Skills

As you work your way through this list, consider that there are two main types of skills – hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills typically need to be taught and practiced to master, as they are more technical in nature.

Soft skills are commonly known as people skills because they are more subjective and deal more with personality traits.

While you need to have a deep understanding of physical anatomy to evaluate patients and create treatment plans, you also need to be able to actively listen and communicate with them.

A well-rounded candidate should have traits in both categories in order to be a competent and pleasant physical therapist.

PRO TIP: Look over the job posting you are responding to so that you can see what skills and qualifications they are looking for in an ideal candidate. Make sure that you include those skills in your resume to appear like a capable and compatible option.

Writing Your Work Experience

The work history section of a physical therapist resume traditionally takes up the most space, primarily because it is an opportunity for candidates to “prove” their skills.

While each resume is unique and not all candidates have much previous work experience to speak of, there are still some universal qualities that an impactful work experience section should have.

If you don’t have much relevant experience, it is crucial to resist the urge to include work experience that doesn’t relate to physical therapy.

While you may have some loosely related work experience that could be helpful, like personal training, try to avoid things like the server job you had in college.

It is often a good idea to list your work experience in reverse chronological order so that your most recent and relevant work comes first.

Once you have decided what jobs to include and what order to lay them out in, it is time to describe each position in about three to five bullet points.

Make sure that your job descriptions focus on tasks that are impressive and applicable to the job you are currently seeking.

Yes!

Foster Rehabilitation | Rutland, VT | Physical Therapist | October 2016 – Present

  • Provide focused care to patients suffering from the effects of injury/trauma
  • Formulate individualized therapy treatment plans
  • Instruct patients in exercises, skills, and functions, and assisted in transfers
  • Maintain records of patient concerns, progress, and psychological state
  • Prepare for therapy sessions by arranging treatment area according to patient needs

No!

Foster Rehabilitation | Rutland, VT | Physical Therapist | October 2016 – Present

  • Provide care to patients
  • Make therapy treatment plans for patients
  • Instruct patients on treatment plans
  • Make records of patients issues and improvements
  • Prepare for therapy sessions in advance

The “Yes!” example lends specific details that qualify the work the candidate did for their patients and examples explaining the steps involved.

The “No!” example reuses weak power words (action verbs) and lends minimal details to describe how the job duties were carried out.

PRO TIP: Start each bullet point of a job description with a new power word to describe how you carried out each job duty. Make sure that you aren’t repeating the same words and that you are cross-referencing the words with the job posting if possible. The goal is to be specific, versatile, and compatible with the new company/hospital.

(If you lack work experience, see below for a helpful section.)

About Bots

When writing your resume, it is imperative to consider who your audience will be.

While in many cases the answer to that question is a hiring manager of some sort, there is an increase in the use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), often referred to as bots.

Applicant Tracking Systems help companies search resumes for specific keywords to narrow down their list of potential candidates.

While this might sound a bit difficult to combat, if you look over the job post requirements or research the company, then coming up with useful keywords isn’t a problem.

Some resume experts believe that writing your job descriptions in paragraphs as opposed to bullet points allows candidates to use more keywords in their resumes.

Standard bullet point format:

Meadow Physical Therapy | Rutland, VT | Physical Therapist | January 2014 – August 2016

  • Evaluated and treated patient injuries, including sports injuries
  • Held one-on-one treatment sessions with flexible timetables according to specific patient needs
  • Led patients in a variety of therapeutic exercises, with a focus on complete independence
  • Counseled patients on how to promote wellness and health
  • Helped to plan new treatment programs and marketing strategies

Paragraph format:

Meadow Physical Therapy | Rutland, VT | Physical Therapist | January 2014 – August 2016

Evaluated and treated patient injuries, including sports injuries. Held one-on-one treatment sessions with flexible timetables according to specific patient needs. Led patients in a variety of therapeutic exercises, with a focus on complete independence. Counseled patients on how to promote wellness and health. Helped to plan new treatment programs and marketing strategies.

Paragraph format w/ bullet points:

Meadow Physical Therapy | Rutland, VT | Physical Therapist | January 2014 – August 2016
Evaluated and treated patient injuries, including sports injuries. Held one-on-one treatment sessions with flexible timetables according to specific patient needs. Led patients in a variety of therapeutic exercises, with a focus on complete independence. Counseled patients on how to promote wellness and health. Helped to plan new treatment programs and marketing strategies.

  • Pediatric PT
  • Created 200+ plans of care

Here at Big Interview, we believe that sticking with bullet points is still the best way to land an interview.

If you are intentional while writing, you can include an adequate amount of keywords in your job descriptions and keep a professional and approachable appearance for when your resume gets through to hiring managers.

Writing Your Education Section

The education section of your physical therapist resume is about as straightforward as a resume section can get.

Include your degrees in order of completion (or impressiveness and relevance) by listing the title of your degree, the school you attended, and the year you graduated.

You can also include your licenses and certifications in this section as well, or make a separate section in direct proximity to your education section.

Example:

Education/Certifications

Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT)
The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT,
Class of 2012

Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
Northern Vermont University at Lyndon, Lyndon, VT
Class of 2009

Licensed Physical Therapist with the State of Vermont
2012

Possible Sections to Include

Including additional sections in your resume, for extra accomplishments and relevant details to physical therapy is acceptable and often beneficial for candidates.

Some additional sections to consider including are:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

What If You Have No Experience?

If you don’t have experience working in physical therapy because you are a recent graduate or you have switched careers, you are not out of luck.

Creating a great resume, even without experience, is still possible.

Start by moving your education section up on the page just below your resume summary.

Your education section should now fill up the bulk of your resume by including notable accomplishments like a high GPA, honors, and awards.

Once you have touched up your education section, make sure that you consider adding in an additional section for any volunteer work or internships.

While you might be new to the field, you likely still have a good amount of experience to discuss, even if those opportunities weren’t paid.

Resume Points to Remember

Review your work

Make sure that you are always taking the time to review your physical therapist resume and revising it when necessary. If you aren’t able to have a friend help you look it over, try reading it aloud to yourself so that you can hear how what you wrote will sound.

Do your research

When writing a resume, you need to take the time to look over either the job posting you are responding to or read up on the company or hospital you want to work for. Make sure that you understand what skills and qualities they value in a candidate so that you can describe yourself in the most compatible way possible.

Keep it brief

If you have been working in PT for a long time, you may have accumulated a good portion of experience to discuss. Make sure that no matter how much experience or accomplishments you have that you are keeping your resume contained to just one page. Two-page resumes spell the end of the road for even the most impressive candidates.

Try to Avoid

Avoid “I” and “me”

When writing your resume, it might feel like you should include the words “I” or “me” when describing yourself. Refrain from including these words because they will sound awkward to your readers.

Don’t forget your name

Make sure that you are including your name, contact information, and any links to career-related sites that you have. These details sound silly to forget, but it happens.

Don’t repeat yourself

Make sure that you are taking the time to come up with fresh keywords and power words throughout your physical therapist resume. Don’t repeat the same keyword twice – it is a missed opportunity, and it sounds redundant.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested power words.)

Helpful Tools:

Power Words for Your Physical Therapist Resume

  • Administered
  • Founded
  • Adept
  • Formulated
  • Built
  • Implemented
  • Created
  • Improved
  • Consolidated
  • Initiated
  • Coordinated
  • Launched
  • Developed
  • Pioneered
  • Designed
  • Organized

Skills List

Hard Skills Soft Skills
HIPPA Leadership
Patient Evaluations Active Listener
Treatment Plans Compassion
Kinesiology Physical Strength and Coordination
Pediatric PT Interpersonal Skills
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