• December 13, 2016 at 10:12 am #34580

    Wow. I know the thread is a bit old, but I feel a lot better, less alone, and less guilty after reading. Most of my PT friends no longer practice – they teach or work in research. After 15 years of practice, multiple repetitive stress injuries, and a marked change in the business structure of healthcare, I’m following them out. I did very well on the LSAT so we’ll see what happens next.

    To the original poster, I hope you were able to find what you were looking for.

    December 13, 2016 at 10:12 am #34571

    I’m considering going into software engineering. I work outpatient 1:1 patient care. Great team but I’m not having fun anymore. I can handle listening to patients complain 10hrs a day. I want more flexibility, less “customer service put on a smile”, and more pay.

    December 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm #34582

    Hi, everyone! I joined this forum just to reply to this post, too. I put in 5 years as a PT, and I was ready to switch to something else b/c I was already feeling burned out. My hip, shoulder, back, and neck were always achy, and I was feeling emotionally drained from being “on” all day and listening to others’ negativity. Even when I had a caseload of nice patients, there were always negative coworkers, so there was really no escape (as there is in an office job).

    I, too, was a career changer, and I regret not choosing a different path when I went back to school. I probably would have enjoyed dentistry or medicine more, but I’m not sure that dentistry would have been any easier on my neck 🙂 Oh well!

    Here’s what I did to get out: I took several per diem gigs with very flexible schedules, and when I wasn’t working, I teamed up with another disgruntled PT and launched a website for new grad PTs. It probably came up during many of your google searches for non-clinical jobs. I have tried to dedicate a lot of my time and energy to helping PTs find other paths for themselves, because I know how frustrated and trapped someone can feel when they spent all this time and money on a degree. Once the website took off, I was able to use my writing experience to write for free in other publications (APTA magazine, etc). Once you gain that type of visibility, you can start charging for your work. Working through a creative staffing agency is also helpful, since they can help you negotiate rates and tell you how to sell yourself during interviews. That’s just my writer trajectory…

    If you’re trying to make a change, I’d advise you to see a career counselor (or work independently with workbooks) to determine your values, strengths, and interests. Because PT school was so expensive, more education can be daunting and may not give you what you want. But you can always go back to school if you’re able to afford it. Regardless, during your work with a career counselor, you may find that you’d make a good writer, insurance reviewer, intake liaison, medical device rep, sales rep, or more. The only way you can determine what is right for you is to have the time to do so, and working as a full time PT rarely affords the time you need to make this decision.

    The next step is getting your resume ready. Again, a career counselor can help with this, as they will know how to highlight the transferrable skills. Don’t focus so much on job history vs skills, unless you’re going for a liaison or sales job in the industry. A jump to another industry may be reason to change your resume to a “skills-based” approach vs. “employment history-based” approach. An HR friend of mine said the most important part for a career changer during the job application process is creating a good cover letter. Most hiring managers will wonder WTF you’re doing and if it’s a mistaken job submission. Make sure your cover letter explains why you’re looking to make a change and why your background will make you a good candidate.

    Honestly, you’ll probably work for less money (maybe for free) in the short term, but you’ll get back to where you were in no time, if you’re happier in your new role. I’m ALWAYS happy to talk about this, so please feel free to ask questions!! The most important part of all of this is keeping a thick skin (don’t listen to the people judging you) and a good attitude (you will get LOTS of rejections or no replies at the beginning). Good luck!!!!

    December 14, 2016 at 4:29 pm #34585
    Dr. E

    I know this is old but I’m compelled to comment. Read my rant you freaking babies, then I’ll answer this question:

    What is the real problem, the PT field and career, or the person in it? *SPOILER ALERT*
    IT’S YOU you giant BABY (so lucky I’m not allowed to curse here!)

    I’ve been in 2 different OP settings, working since 2012. I’m not surprised with most of the negative responses because most people see the negatives more than positives, but I do hear a bunch of whiners. Honestly, what’s your dream job? Someone said they have repetitive stress injuries so they’re going to take the LSAT and see how that goes. WTF!? Half my patients are lawyers or accountants or some other similar field with posture or repetitive stress injuries. So, you’re gonna try research, says the OP? And because you’re tired of putting on a smiling face?? I don’t even know where to start with this, but let me sum up my thoughts. ANYTHING you do for work is going to suck sometimes. That’s why it’s called WORK you S5 dermatome! If it was meant to be fun and inspiring and free all the time, NOBODY would pay you for it!!! If you’re tired of listening to people complain, good luck in life. You won’t succeed if you can’t get past this. And BTW, this is your issue, not the PT career, not the patient. You should practice better coping strategies to stresses you encounter at work. Mediate, realize that you ARE NOT SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING THE PATIENT BETTER. I tell my patients from day 1, “I’m here to guide, but you’re doing the steering. This is your body, your responsibility. If you don’t get better, frankly, that’s on you. You got yourself here with your arthritic knee because you’re 50 lbs overweight and you thought you could skate through life without taking care of the greatest machine ever built that was given to you for free!” I usually get laughs (prob because it’s refreshingly honest since all providers in the healthcare industry say they are voodoo healers or their methods are amazingly better than others and they can crap rainbows blah blah blah BS vomit). Tell the patient to be an active participant in their healing. Don’t put a smile on your face if they’re complaining. That’s just f-ing weird dude. Problem solve if it’s a legit complaint. That’s the fun part! Oh, I guess if you don’t want to use your little brain because it makes you so so tired then this part won’t be fun for you. Whaaaaa! Baby. If it isn’t a legit complaint, follow my lead: “ok, well just keep monitoring that Jim. Now go do your exercises before I make them ten times harder!” And yes I actually say this, but you gotta develop a little rapport first.

    Ah, tangent a bit. In summary, the PT field is amazing. “But it’s not like it use to be!” – Correct! I’m a Doctor, female dog!
    “But the DPT isn’t a real degree!”- Awe, you’re cute when you’re mad. Weird tho cause our national organization says it IS real. Hmmmm…
    “But medical doctors don’t recognize it!”- Who gives a flying f…! Why does this matter? You want them to call you doctor and kiss your little doctor shoes?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
    Lastly, to those of you with injuries (and I can’t believe I need to say this to a bunch of PTs), GO DO YOUR F-ing EXERCISES AND STRETCHES BEFORE I MAKE THEM 10X HARDER! Seriously tho, if you don’t take care of your body, it will tell you. It will break down. You will have pain. It will get worse. Doesn’t matter the profession.
    “oh, but I do. I always stretch” LIAR! “I eat right!” LIAR!
    “I do proper exercises regularly” LIAR!
    “I don’t over do it on the weekends” LIAR!
    “I take breaks from any static position every 20 minutes, even when I’m at home or at dinner with friends” GIANT F-ing LIAR!
    Your pants look like toast at this point.

    -Dr. E

    December 14, 2016 at 5:43 pm #34588

    With all due respect, Dr. E, some of the best PTs I know have been injured on the job. And yes, they go to PT and do their exercises. If you work in most settings outside of ortho, you’ll quickly discover that patients move quickly, and your perfect body mechanics go out the window when you’re working with a 200 lb writhing BI pt!

    To everyone else looking to take the leap: I’m thrilled I did. Haters gonna hate! Dont let people shame you into practicing if you’re not into it. It’s not fair to your patients, nor to you. Do what you want 🙂

    December 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm #34607
    Dr. E

    With all due respect, Dr. E, some of the best PTs I know have been injured on the job. And yes, they go to PT and do their exercises. If you work in most settings outside of ortho, you’ll quickly discover that patients move quickly, and your perfect body mechanics go out the window when you’re working with a 200 lb writhing BI pt!

    To everyone else looking to take the leap: I’m thrilled I did. Haters gonna hate! Dont let people shame you into practicing if you’re not into it. It’s not fair to your patients, nor to you. Do what you want 🙂

    Firstly, you don’t know that unless you spend every minute of every day with those PTs. Also, you can be an excellent PT and totally neglect your own body. If you injure yourself working with a large patient, that is your fault, unless something rare happens thats out of your control like a lift breaks or the patient punches you. If you chose to do a one person transfer and you aren’t strong enough, you have created your own injury. We have to take responsibility for our actions, just like we ask our patients to do. Also, I’m not shaming career change. Read my rant again. If you want to change careers, knock yourself out, especially if you’re losing empathy for patients and your treatments are weak.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

    December 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm #34624

    Dr. E, I hope you never have to eat your words, for your own sake. Workplace injuries happen, especially in settings where you simply have nobody to help you, or don’t have lifts. Or you are treating in psych units. Patients do punch and equipment breaks. Patients lurch when nature calls abruptly.

    Therapists also get injured outside of work and cannot continue treating because their bodies don’t allow it.

    People leave clinical care for reasons besides “weak treatments” and “lack of empathy”. Some leave because their empathy is overwhelming and they take work home with them. Others leave because they’re more interested in other paths. Some simply wish to find flexible jobs to allow more time with loved ones. That was my primary motivator.

    I am not trying to insult you or argue; I’m simply trying to lift the stigma from leaving pt care. Good luck to ya!!

    January 3, 2017 at 9:50 am #34662

    I’ve been browsing these forums quite a bit lately and noticed some recent activity on this one…hoping somebody can give me some insight! I recently took a leave of absence from my DPT program after the first semester for a number of reasons. I had never been so miserable in my entire life. At first the decision stemmed from anxiety and stress from the program but as time went on, it turned into questioning how happy I’d be in the career itself. I worked long and hard to go down this path and was so relieved to be accepted and begin my path toward my “dream career.” But it didn’t take long to feel like the stress wasn’t going to end when school did, it was just going to get worse.

    My older sister is a speech therapist and has been facing the effects of reimbursement rate cuts and increased productivity expectations at her outpatient clinic (that also provides OT and PT) and often complains of how much work she does off the clock. Of course she acknowledges she has the opportunity to make a difference in her career, but encourages me to pursue something where you’re at least be fairly compensated for the work you’re putting in. I’m still relatively young and have the means to go back to school in an unrelated field (strong grades, no student loans, no personal responsibilities). Am I crazy for leaving this dream in the rearview? I’d like to hear from people in the therapy field right now. PT school is crazy competitive…it kills me to think about giving up my spot.

    I was hoping somebody could give me real feedback into their experience as a therapist right now. Are you happy with your career choice? Are you valued at your place of employment? Thanks ahead of time for any time taken to give me some honest responses.

    January 10, 2017 at 9:35 am #34686

    Interesting how many people are posting in this forum and feeling the same way I do! First, to TX1234, I can’t tell you how much I have loved my career choice and feel lucky to have found my calling. PT is an incredibly rewarding field in which you can feel good about what you did all day. I have worked in many settings, and have only disliked what I did a handful of times. For the most part, I come home happy and fulfilled. I encourage you to continue with your studies for longer, until you have more field experience, before you decide it’s not right for you. I’m sure you ended up here because you had a certain passion for this field, and it’s probably still there, but just hiding as you are overwhelmed by the schooling. That being said, you need to make the right decisions for yourself before you commit so much money to your education, and it sounds like you have more going on than just the stress of school.

    As for being fairly compensated for the work we do, I too am having growing concerns about where reimbursement is taking us and am feeling the pressure of how much I am truly valued in my workplace. I have worked for 20 years in this field, and am currently in a private outpatient clinic part time. I’m one of the lucky few who mostly see 1 patient an hour due to my specialty, however my boss has been consulting with an outside practice management firm and has realized that my position and another specialty niche are actually losing money for our small practice. From a numbers standpoint, I totally get it, but it means I will need to find a different way to operate as my boss will likely no longer pay me for the time it takes to complete documentation, order custom products for my specialty patients, and other functions I have performed for this company for years. It is a shame, as I feel documentation and communication with other providers and colleagues are a huge part of what we do (something you can’t delegate either) but you can’t get reimbursement for that part of our job, so in the end we’ll be forced to see more patients in less time to be profitable.

    I just wanted to mention a source of income I found for those of you who are interested in trying writing. I decided to give this a shot when our patient load was slow last January, and I was looking to supplement my income with something I can do from home…and I found Upwork. It takes a little bit of legwork upfront from a time standpoint, but is completely free and no further study is required. Upwork is an international work platform where people from around the globe post jobs that involve everything from IT help to website design to writing and translation. There are hundreds of new jobs posted there daily, and with a little searching, you can find some in the therapy field. I created my free profile there a year ago and took their online tests to demonstrate my writing/grammar proficiency, since I had little else to put on my page!

    I started off writing several short, non-academic pieces, one for a hospital in another state who wanted an informal piece on what PTs wish their patients knew/expected when they came to therapy. I then found a product developer who needed me to write research-based white papers to support the use of the device he invented (it’s for certain foot conditions). He provided me with the research articles and outlines, and I wrote about 8 research-based papers for him. He sent me a device to try and I’ve taken it to work and introduced it to my colleagues and patients too. It was challenging doing indepth analysis of research articles and explaining biomechanically how this device worked, but I found it pleasantly different, rewarding and educational. In the end, I’ve learned a ton, will likely be a guest blogger for him as the product launches, and found a new field to explore from the comfort of home. I initially set my hourly rate fairly low, but have subsequently been able to raise it with some experience under my belt.

    Now that I’ve dabbled in writing about a new device, I’m wondering what other similar work might be out there, so that’s leading me in some new directions. Similar to FreePT (I stumbled upon your website BTW, it looks good!), I’m finding my niche with part time PT work and writing on the side. Since I don’t have benefits through my PT job, I am thinking about finding a full-time position somewhere, but not sure how to tie it all together in a unique way that may not involve traditional PT work…that being said, I absolutely love making my patients feel better with the manual techniques I use, so not sure if I am truly ready to leave the field. It’s a work in progress, and I am so glad to have found this forum to discuss these issues and see what others are doing to expand their horizons in the field.

    Thanks for reading, hope this may help some of you.

    January 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm #34694

    Oh Dr. E…have you used up all your empathy up on your patients? I’ve been working full-time for almost 16 years. I’m not so certain you’ll go another 12 years without getting injured. EVERY full-time PT that I know – and I know many – has had some sort of injury. If you do manage to go uninjured, I’ll be glad for you. We need good PTs to stay in the field.

    And yes, I treat attorneys with repetitive stress disorders, but unlike them, I have a good understanding of ergonomics and posture. My injuries are from different physical work demands. There’s no doubt I will have to be careful, but I think I’ll manage. Thank you for your concern.

    And my repetitive stress injuries were not severe, as obviously I continue to work full-time. However, that was not the only reason I chose to change careers. I won’t bore you all with the details, but it was multi-factorial. And I’m not being bitter or whining. I’m just seeing certain realities change in my chosen career and am being proactive about changing to something that now appeals to me more – helping patients and providers navigate a changing healthcare system through the practice of law.

    I was just offered a scholarship to law school, so “seeing how that goes” is going rather well so far. But keep your passion. I would suggest however, that it may be more productive to offer support to your colleagues who waver, rather than rant and belittle them. Burning bridges is never a good thing through one’s career.

    March 15, 2017 at 9:56 am #35280

    Hey Jomialso,

    It’s been a while since you last posted but I hope you are in a better place in respect to your PT career now. I think changing settings can help to alleviate burnout and keep being a PT fun. I graduated late 2013 and have been working as a PT for a little over 3 years. My heart was always in outpatient but because I wanted to travel and start working ASAP I started working in a SNF. Working in a SNF didn’t fulfill me although the money was great and I was able to pay off my loans. When I finally got sick of it I quit and transitioned to outpatient and LOVED IT! I found a company that offered an in-house orthopedic residency program which I started 3 months after starting the OP position. It may of been the combination of an intense residency program with seeing 2-3 pts/hour + never ending paperwork that I began getting burnt out and depressed.

    5 months into my residency program I reached a breaking point and quit the program and put in my 3-month notice with my company. The company, management and my coworkers were awesome but I just got sick of the PT grind. I’m glad I transitioned to outpatient to find out it wasn’t necessarily the setting I disliked but that I had another calling. I have 2 more weeks of work before I move back to Canada and pursue a life outside of physical therapy. Sure I have doubts but I know I couldn’t remain a PT for another 30+ years. The PTs I got to surround myself with at work LOVED being a PT. I hope to find something that I love as well.

    May 22, 2017 at 11:38 am #35779

    hello All,

    Its very refreshing reading all the different perspectives. I am not a recent graduate and Ive been working in this field for many years in various settings. I hold a DPT degree but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get licensed as a DPT. I was very in love with the profession hold heartedly but now the profession just puts a bad taste in my mouth. I have seen all of the things this profession has been subjected too as you have mentioned Charles and its very sad. The current new regulations by the Federation concerning exam retake is just unjust to future PT students and the healthcare industry itself as well as the patient care population that are in need of rehabilitation. No other healthcare profession limits candidates from retaking any exam. I mean what is the APTA doing for future students? How could such a policy even have been approved or lobbied for? My thought is to regulate the industry and keep foreigners and minorities from entering the profession…point blank period. I’m pretty sure the only people retaking the NPTE exam are foreign trained PTs and minorities. If I had the time an resources to have it actually investigated I would but I’m choosing to move on with from this dead career because in addition to this there are so many other issues in this professionally industry.

    August 23, 2017 at 12:12 am #37653

    Hi, I have been a PT for 18 years. I’ve definitely seen the profession change since I first started. It used to be more about quality of care, and I remember easily spending 1-1.5 hours with one patient. It was wonderful, for both patient and clinician. Now, everything seems to be insurance driven in healthcare. It’s more about productivity, meeting or exceeding your numbers. In the last two years, I have been experiencing some major burnout. I have worked in just about every clinical setting, to include OP, acute care, inpatient rehab, SNF, MD office, and home health. I will say, the most flexible setting seems to be home health. Seems like it’s getting to the point that work is having to be brought home more often than not. It’s becoming more common for me to be up till midnight documenting on notes. My kids say, mom you are always working. Makes me sad, and it seems to be worsening as time goes on.

    I am looking for something with more flexibility to have quality time with my family. The problem is, finding something that compensates as well. Bills still have to be paid, kids activities, clothes, etc., are expensive. My spouse is retiring medically after 20+ years in service, and is not sure what he’s going to do. I’ve thought about writing, research, consulting. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    August 24, 2017 at 9:42 am #38573

    I’ve been a PT for 7 years and already am burned out. I work part time just to clear my head right now to see what else I may want to pursue. I hate the thought of going back to school after I already paid off massive debts and in a short time, but I can’t see myself doing this another 10-20 years. It’s all about numbers anymore. How many patients can you see. Managers try to get you to do unethical things and if you don’t have coverage it can be hard to even take the vacation time you earned. It’s a decent career as well as pay, but it seems like if you try to change jobs you may more likely take a pay cut than a pay raise. Especially if you are settled in an area and can’t leave. I wish I would have went the PA route or nursing if I had to do it over again.

    September 23, 2017 at 10:07 am #39136

    Wow, this thread started in 2013 and here we are still talking about it.
    I have been a PT for nearly 34 years. There was a point 14 years ago when I wanted out. I had developed cancer and I was so frustrated with my work that I was concerned that staying in PT could adversely effect my health. I took a 1 year time out. Then I returned to PT and I had a very different feeling coming back.

    What have I learned along the way? I listen to patients differently now. I don’t get caught up in their stories. I have enough experience that as soon as I meet them I am taking in hundreds of bits of information that I can use to help them. I easily re-direct them when they get caught up in a feedback loop that is not moving us forward and I do it with a sense of humor that leaves them laughing. I feel genuine sadness for their suffering, yet don’t carry it home with me. One thing I learned from cancer is that when its your turn to suffer, its your turn and when its not its not. I think a lot of the burnout I felt in my early years was feeling like I couldn’t fix everyone. I have let that go. I meet people where they are at. If they show me they want to get better, I give them 110%. If they show me they don’t, I say goodbye and wish them well.

    So patient care is not a conflict for me now. What is a problem are the underlying motives of the companies I have worked for. Through a lot of job changes and some divine providence, I am in a home health job where my experience and abilities are being honored (to some degree). It has taken nearly 3 years for the people around me to understand the magic I can make with my years of experience. They are starting to get it.

    Most jobs seem to have no interest in our unique capabilities and keep trying to mold every therapist into some sort of robot where we all think and act the same. I have never seen that work. You may notice that your managers have very little experience. That’s because us older folks have been there and done that already and it is easy for a company to manipulate the behavior of a younger therapist who is eager to climb the ladder vs an older therapist who has developed some clear boundaries with what we will and won’t do at work. Once the younger therapist catches on to the monkey business they are being asked to carry out, most will leave and be replaced with yet a younger therapist and the whole cycle starts over again. A revolving door of inexperienced managers attempting to manipulate your behavior to increase company revenues while trying to convince you that you just don’t grasp things clearly. In my opinion this causes a lot of our burnout. Or at least it causes mine.

    I will say that in terms of best jobs, owning my own PT business topped the list. I ended it in 1999 when reimbursed had bottomed out with just the start of many reimbursement changes to come. My next happiest job is in home health. I feel the most creative there because you never know what kind of home situation you are walking into.

    But even more important than setting is asking why the company exists. The most depressing places I have worked are ONLY concerned with profits and have no problem stepping on PTs or patients to get what they want. (It has always made me scratch my head why they think that treating patients like crap would be a great idea, yet I am sad to say some companies that treat patients the worst, seem to be making the most money). The best places I have worked have been 1) Non-Profits, 2) Companies whose owners lean in a spiritual direction. I don’t always have the same spiritual beliefs as the owners, yet it makes a HUGE difference when the people in charge are motivated to enhance the well being of others. Its a very different environment than the places who focus entirely on profits.

    Well, that’s all I got. I wish the best for all of us that we find work that fulfills us and lets us offer the best that we have to give.

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