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What to Include in a Physical/Occupational Therapist Resume

Not all physical and occupational therapist positions are the same, which means not all resumes will be the same. The details of your document may vary widely depending on the nature of your target employer (urban, rural, large hospital, small private clinic, etc.), your level of experience, and the long-term plans you have for your overall career.

If you have a long list of certifications and you work in a very specialized corner of the marketplace, your document will differ from that of an applicant at the entry level. The therapist resume samples in this set represent employees from a wide range of backgrounds, so you’ll want to take a close look at the ones that best reflect your own experience.

While there’s no one right way to create a resume, almost all resumes in this profession will have a few universal qualities. At a minimum, your resume should include each of the following subheadings:

· Resume Summary

· Education Section

· Work Experience Section

· Skills Section

Not to mention, your resume should follow one of a few different layout options, all of which are considered professional and acceptable by most employers: You can format your resume using the chronological layout, the functional layout, or a hybrid of these two styles.

If you choose the chronological layout, which is the most common of the layout choices, you’ll be pitching your experience and abilities by shining a spotlight on the jobs you’ve held in the past. This approach is a great option if you can demonstrate an unbroken series of previous positions with steadily increasing levels of responsibility.

If you choose the functional layout, you’ll focus your reviewer’s attention on your abilities and areas of expertise, not on your previous jobs. The functional layout usually provides a better option for candidates who have gaps in their work history or career swerves that aren’t easy to explain.

Again, review the therapist resume samples and consider the impact of each layout before you decide which one might work better for your search.

How to Write the Therapist Resume Summary Statement

No matter how you decide to format later sections, your resume will need to begin with a clear, concise, and informative summary of your profile and your core credentials. This section will appear at the top of the page, just under your name and contact information, and it will consist of three or four lines of text that introduce you to your reader and cover the basics.

In addition to the summaries in the therapist resume samples, take a look at a few examples below:

Professional occupational therapist with special expertise in patient assessment and core evaluation. Trained to assess the entire patient in order to determine the central cause of the illness, pain, or limitation in function. Adept at developing a targeted care plan and implementing plan to help patient recover lost or compromised skills.

Experienced bilingual (Arabic) physical therapist with dual licensure in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Multiple certifications and a deep background in a range of PT treatments and modalities for pediatric and adolescent patients. Committed to patient care and the pursuit of optimal outcomes. Currently providing physician-prescribed programs for medically complex patients.

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How to Write the Therapist Resume Education Section

In the body of your resume, just below the summary or further down the page (depending on your preference), you’ll need to create a section documenting your educational credentials. In this section, you’ll list each of your degrees or diplomas followed by your institution and course of study. For each entry, you can also feel free to add your GPA or graduation dates; though; these aren’t typically required by most employers. You’ll also want to include relevant awards, distinctions or cum laude statuses for each entry before moving on to the next.

As a physical or occupational therapist, you’ll also want to show off your state licensing credentials and your specific list of certifications (for example, CPR, lymphedema, BLS, etc). If this list is long, you may want to create a separate subheading for certifications alone.

Wherever you decide to include these, just make sure your proudest accomplishments stand out and make sure that your reviewers can easily find the information they’re looking for.


How to Write the Therapist Work Experience Section

As mentioned above and demonstrated by the therapist resume samples in this set, you can show off your work experience by choosing either of two formats: the chronological or the functional.

If you decide to use the chronological layout, you’ll break down your past and your professional experience by chapter, and each chapter will be represented by a specific job title. Even if you shifted titles while working for the same employer, each title will warrant its own entry. After your title, share the name of your clinic or practice and your start and end dates for the position. Then briefly list and describe your responsibilities and accomplishments in bullet point form.

If you choose the functional format, you’ll have an opportunity to show off your capabilities and the contributions you can offer to your potential employer. This formatting style emphasizes what you can offer in the future, rather than what you’ve done in the past. This may be especially useful to employers in a therapeutic field, since it allows them to easily identify your clinical specialties and the populations you’re best prepared to treat and manage. This formatting style can also help you find employers with needs and goals that align with your specific profile.

If you choose the functional format, you’ll break your work experience section into two, and use the first to list your areas of expertise, core competencies and key accomplishments. The section subsection will include a shorter summarized list of your past position titles. There’s no need to include your employment dates or responsibilities here.

Review the therapist resume samples to fully understand how each option will impact your readers.


Action Verbs to Include in Your Therapist Work Experience Section

As you complete your work experience section, you’ll want to use dynamic action verbs that help you stand out as a candidate. Consider the list below:

· Assessed

· Planned

· Administered

· Restored

· Treated

· Evaluated

· Performed

· Managed

· Provided

· Examined

· Diagnosed

· Instructed

· Maintained

· Supervised

· Documented

· Trained


How to Write the Therapist Resume Skills Section

Following your education and work experience sections, at a lower point on the page, you’ll have a chance to provide employers with a list of your special skills. As a therapist, you can feel free to list clinical skills that directly address patient care and management, but you can also use this section to document the non-clinical skills that help you stand out as an employee. Any skill areas related to leadership, teamwork, communication, presentation, and the education and training of others should be included here.

You should also take this opportunity to make a note of your IT skills, organizational skills (like budgeting and scheduling), and general management skills (for example, designing and executing special programs and initiatives on your own).

Don’t forget that you should first and foremost look to the employer’s job description to see which skills are most important to them. If you hold any of these, be sure to include them in this section.

TIP: Need a cover letter? Click here to view our Occupational and Physical Therapist Cover Letters.

Should I Include References in my Therapist Resume?

Before you make it through the selection process and receive a formal offer from a potential employer, there’s a very strong chance that you’ll be asked to provide a list of professional references. This list will usually consist of the names and contact information three to five former supervisors or healthcare professionals who can vouch for your skills and discuss your working style. But this list will shared as a separate document; it won’t be included within the text of your resume. Your employers will most likely request your references after they’ve had a chance to review your profile.


Therapist Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid

As you review these therapist resume samples and start creating and editing your own profile, keep an eye out for these common mistakes.

Missed opportunities: As an experienced physical or occupational therapist, you’ve probably worked with a broad patient population and faced a wide range of challenges, both clinical and interpersonal. Keep records throughout your career so you don’t forget about some of these accomplishments and credentials when it’s time to start your job search.

Clarity problems: Ensure that each of your subsections are well written and easy to read and understand. This industry relies on specific jargon and acronyms, and if you aren’t sure your claims will be understood, take another look and consider rewording or spelling out what you mean.

Length issues: It can be very difficult to summarize a complex clinical career in just one to two pages. If you reach your length limit and you still haven’t even scratched the surface, think in terms of priorities. Which items of information will matter most to your specific target employers?


Job Prospects for Physical and Occupational Therapists

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapists is growing rapidly, and may exceed a 34% increase by 2024. This far exceeds the average growth rate across all industries. For occupational therapists, opportunities are also on the rise, though not quite as much. Opportunities in this field are expected to grow by 27% between 2014 and 2024.
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