Joined: October 27, 2002
From: New York, NY
I am in Westchester also. Perhaps we have run into each other at some point.
For education, I would advise doing something other than the t-dpt. Something that will both open the doors for PT eduction if you like and, at the same time, provide you with other opportunities. Public health is a nice mix of both - applicable to PT but can get you a foot in the door elsewhere if need be. New York Medical College has a program. Business, law and other disciplines would also provide some similar opportunities.
As an educator, I won't be rich ever. But...you can do fine. I currently make as much or more than if I had stayed in the clinic.
Joined: October 24, 2006
From: New York
Nice one, and yes that is what it means. I do have a decent history as a high-level amateur, pro is another world. MTB in the US is purely a hobby, even at the pro level for most - there is no more money there.
You are in a hotbed for the sport in WI.
And yes, as you all can probably see, being a working stiff sucks for me. I'd rather be climbing, or descending, or even crashing if necessary.
Doug, I started PTA school in 1987 and with 5 months to graduate went to Indonesia since my husband was offered a job that he wasn't going to obtain unless I went with him. We stayed 12 years and retired in Arizona where I decided to return to PTA school and had to take the entire program again. I graduated when I was 54, but if I were 19 and had a career choice I think I would have been a nurse or a doctor as you are able to go into so many different areas. When I lived overseas the companies my husband worked for always had doctors/nurses in their employment, so they were able to travel to different countries. There are a lot of medical personnel on luxury liners but they usually do not have Physical Therapist. I guess it just depends on what you would like to do; obviously I like to travel. Physical Therapy is a great field and I don't think you'll ever be out of work but you have issues like the Medicare cap it seems every year to worry about and like some of the others have mentioned the paperwork is a mess although as a PTA I am not burdened with as much as a PT. Anyway, good luck!
DISCLOSURE: I am formerly known as Physiothis on this forum (I lost my old login and account info) and this is a LONG post
Long time Steve!
Long shot that you're still here but for some reason the forum popped into my head recently (must be the season) and I thought I’d give you a shout. Your great quip has occasionally come to my mind over the years and I regret never following up with you back in the day to determine whether you were a fellow rider. I've never been one to journal, and it is very interesting to look back on my personal written history on this board (it is even more interesting that the forum still lives, and I am extremely thankful that it does). This thread and particularly my response to its question struck an emotional chord with me today. It really brought me back to where I was in my life and career back then, and brings a huge sense of appreciation for where I am now, and I feel compelled to offer a follow up for anyone willing to read it.
I am still a PT. And the few short months back in 2006 and 2007 when I was a fairly regular attendant and contributor to this forum marked the beginnings of a mental and emotional transformation for me. Interacting with and learning from so many of the very smart folks on here was great, watching as rabbit holes developed (and getting caught in some myself) was entertaining, and realizing that I actually had some stuff to contribute helped mobilize a resolve in me that ultimately realigned my life and career journey. Clearly I was out of sorts back in late 2006, and in retrospect that is when I entered some of the darkest years of my life. My dissatisfaction with the core aspects of PT as a profession was real, and it was compounded by the realities of who I was as a person and what was my personal life. I can best describe the years 2006-2009 as starting with an uneasiness that turned to sadness which morphed into darkness that faded to blackness. I most likely slipped into a depression that I was unaware of at the time.
Do I like my Job? The answer is still not really, and my job is very different now than it was 14 years ago. Something that has not changed about me from when I posted in 2006 is that I do not have to enjoy what I do to earn a living, I only need to be able to tolerate it and have the aptitude to be good at it, and in return it needs to be able to financially support me and my family. However I have now learned to much more skillfully enjoy life outside of career. By late 2008 I got to a point as a treating clinician where, despite being quite good at what I was doing, I could no longer tolerate the type of career track I was on. I have since then learned what my own core competencies are, and they do not include direct patient care. I began to seriously look inward at me, what I had accomplished, what I was doing (and not doing) and questioning what the hell I was going to do, as my situation back then was unsustainable. From the outside I must have seemed the picture of success – freshly renovated house in an affluent NY metro suburb, wife who didn’t need to work, healthy kids, cool sounding job, good income with bonuses, but I was screwed. Between commuting and OP clinic hours I was away from that fresh reno 12-14 hours a day, and I fit right in with so many of my neighbors who were schlepping to Manhattan for Wall Street or Midtown. I thought I was doing just what I was supposed to be doing. A turning point came when I did not see my 2 toddler sons awake for 3 consecutive days one dark winter week. The badge of honor earned by the NY Metro workaholic never appealed to me, yet somehow I was wearing it. The sheer absence of any sort of lever the average PT has with their time became a bitter taste of resentment in the back of my throat. PT is a volume business.
I have seen in other posts the question of whether introverted individuals can be successful in PT. I don’t have a specific answer for that. But I am by all means an introvert. Full days of patient and people interactions were purely exhausting. I did not appreciate this phenomenon at all about me during my early career. The rapid fire, high volume face time required in OP orthopedics was especially taxing, and I operated in a constant state of people-fatigue with no outlet other than listening to Howard Stern on my 1-2 hour commutes to/from the job. My introversion helped explain much of the dissatisfaction that I wrote about in 2006, and by 2008 I was managing a high volume, multisite ortho PT and hand therapy practice with over 40 direct reports across 4 clinics and treating 50% of the time. I was burnt. And emotionally black from it.
In my 2006 post I described what it was about PT that first attracted me to it – the validation received from others. While in my 20’s that’s what made me tick, and I pointed my career aspirations towards what was at the time filling that void. Thankfully I grew out of that type of need for validation, and I was able to start seeing the profession with a clearer head. As I wrote, it was about 9 months into my first job out of PT school when I first experienced this perspective shift, and I also realized that treating patients all day would never get me ahead in life – I needed to pursue management positions. But I still wasn’t seeing me all that clearly. Not until I reached my tipping point in late 2008 – after over 10 years of practice - did I understand my own competency, and in retrospect I am surprised that the insight arose at all given my psycho-emotional state. It was while putting together my resume that I saw a pattern in the positions I held. From new grad staff PT to Rehab Director in a SNF to OP clinic development for Orthopedic surgeons, without exception I left the organization (and a few patients, to be sure) in a better place than I found it. Granted, it was my job to do so at times, but even as a new grad PT with no mandate other than to treat patients I had a compulsion to root out inefficiencies and programming potential and the ability to execute on solutions. As I reflected on this history I realized that my compulsion had always existed. Throughout undergrad and PT school, and at home in personal life I remembered numerous situations where I either improved things on my own or drove improvement in something. Dorm rooms, off campus apartments, the club hockey team, study sessions, teaching assistantships, home improvements and renovations were all subject to my input. Even my leisure activities and hobbies were based on building or improving the performance of something. It was not lost on me that my choice in PT as a career was rooted in this compulsion of mine. I also came to understand the difference between the compulsion to drive improvement and the desire to be a caregiver, and that by the time I started having kids (first in 2003 second in 2006), the caregiver in me was completely consumed with raising them. Everything about my job was competing with my ability to take care of my family in 2006-2009, and the job was winning.
My realization scared me. How the hell can I be a PT and no longer want to help people?? I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to craft a future in the field without that desire, afraid I might self-sabotage, lose my edge, or become a zombie PT who just goes thru the motions. I was remorseful about the investment in time and education I had made only to wind up where I was. I had trouble envisioning other career options where I could lever my PT license and education and achieve similar financial reward. Owning my own practice – OUT. I’ve been living the lifestyle akin to a private practice owner, and besides I had friends who were doing it and I was making comparable earnings and despite my schedule spending less time at work than they were. I was already in a big management position with a great compensation package and room for growth. Lateral moves to other organizations were possible, but moving up meant getting involved with a hospital or healthcare system, earning an MBA, and truly relinquishing control of your own life (again, I had friends doing this). Sales? No way, I’m an introvert! Despair was close, but had not set in.
I pulled myself together and took my newly discovered personal insights and repackaged myself as a solution-oriented operations guy with a strong clinical foundation. I happened upon a rehab director opportunity at a small SNF that was 10 minutes from my fresh reno. I had no intentions of ever working in a SNF again, but couldn’t get my wife at the time (a PT as well) to go for the interview just to satisfy my curiosity (the place was always a mystery to me), so I went. It was a mom and pop non-profit, struggling to survive in the 2000’s while operating like they were in the 90’s. It had good bones and staff. It was EXACTLY the kind of place where I could showcase my strengths and exercise my compulsions. They offered me the position on the spot. I couldn’t do it. Six months later after reaching my wit’s end, in March 2009, I took the position, along with a massive pay cut and the restoration of a significant portion of my personal life and sanity. For the first time in years I was able to see brighter skies, and I was at work, actually doing stuff that made me feel like I was accomplishing things. I did a small amount of patient treatment which I found satisfying, and a large amount of provoking evolution not only in the rehab department but throughout the entire organization. I spent nearly 10 years there and helped create a hugely successful organization and rehab program. The organization sold to a for-profit operator in 2018, and I moved on that year.
The local reputation I built while at the mom and pop enabled me to engage with another local non- profit that was having troubles in its SNF’s. They had been contracting out the rehab department for over 10 years, and I was able to move them back to an in-house rehab model. Again, I was able to do what I had learned to do best, and made massive improvements in programing, staffing, and the financial picture of the organization. I now oversee rehab in 4 buildings and have an awesome team of therapists. Of course, COVID has put a damper on everything, but thankfully we have maneuvered well so far.
I do not know if there is any career advice or life lessons in my story for anyone. As when I wrote in 2006 this has been cathartic for me. I will disclose that, back in 2006, when Steve Hill so wittily quipped at me regarding my forum signature and credentials, I was no longer participating in competitive mountain biking, or any type of biking or training. It was a huge part of my life for many years and provided a level of structure that I did not fully understand when I abruptly “retired” in mid 2006. I am happy to report that since 2016 I am back on the bike, training and competing regularly, and my invite to Steve still stands.
< Message edited by Edward Grano -- November 4, 2020 1:11:18 PM >