Are you interested helping the therapy industry evolve? As a therapist in the research setting, you’ll work in a privately or government-funded research project conducted in conjunction with a university or not-for-profit organization. Your main goal will be conducting research to further establish the effectiveness of therapy, based on outcomes and cost. Your work will help to increase the body of knowledge of your chosen therapy profession.

Therapy research—different from clinical therapy

Therapy research is much different than having a day-to-day patient caseload. As a research therapist, you will help to develop our understanding of therapy, and your work will impact the functioning of the industry as a whole.

An example of work in this setting is the Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR), a physical therapy research and training program currently being established by Brown University in conjunction with Boston University and the University of Pittsburgh. Brown received grant money from the Foundation for Physical Therapy Board of Trustees to develop this program by 2020. CoHSTAR will ultimately work to develop curriculum for use in physical therapy rehabilitation graduate programs.

Typical salary

A career in the therapy setting can be very lucrative. For example, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an occupational therapist working in this setting earns an average annual salary of $115, 320. However, positions in this branch of therapy are not as easy to obtain as in other therapy settings.

Benefits of working in the research setting

If you enjoy running research studies and like the idea of having a hand in the development of the your profession, research could be the right setting for you. Work within the research field can offer the following perks:

  • Published articles. You’ll be able to garner professional accolades through recognition in the by-lines of published research articles.
  • Public speaking opportunities. You’ll also be able to establish yourself as a subject matter expert through speaking engagements to your colleagues, healthcare industry associates, students, etc.
  • Research also offers the opportunity to travel and work with colleagues in different settings and locations.
  • Making a difference. As a researcher, you’ll know your work helps make a difference in the public opinion of therapy, as well as helps to improve treatments and patient outcomes.
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Potential drawbacks

As with any profession, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to be sure it’s right for you. As part of a job in the research setting, your life will be dedicated to therapy as a public servant. You’ll often be required to work long hours to complete projects. As research requires funding, you’ll need to consistently complete and submit grant proposals to sustain research funds. You’ll also need to be someone who is comfortable managing complex projects.

For more information

If you’re interested in learning more about research positions, check out the directory of research centers employing physical therapists. You can also search for a job as a researcher on the National Institute for Health’s job board.

Need help finding your next position?

PT Solutions can make it easier. Whether you’d like to work in the research field or another branch of therapy, we’ll work with you. PT Solutions offers placements in physical or occupational therapy, or speech language pathology. To learn more, contact one of our experienced recruiters today.

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