Are You Starting To Hate Being a Physical Therapist?

I remember the day I graduated from Baylor. I was so excited. It honestly was one of the best days of my life. My entire family was there and I was proud to get the Doctorate I had worked so hard for.

It was also exciting because of the unknown. I had never worked as a PT before and I was about to dive head first into our profession. I honestly wanted to become the best PT in the world. I wanted to be able to get every person better. I wanted to constantly learn about our profession and get a little bit better everyday. There was a fire inside me and that never wavered until September 2013.


I remember sitting in my car one morning in Columbus, Georgia. It’s the first time in my career I have ever physically just not wanted to go into work. Not because I was sick but because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a PT anymore. I physically just couldn’t get myself to turn the car on. I sat there for about 5 minutes but it seemed like an hour. I thought about what I wanted to do and why I felt this lack of satisfaction with a profession I loved.


I had recently been reassigned to Ft. Benning and my role as a PT had changed dramatically over the past month. I had gone from being a PT at an Infantry Brigade, to back to being a staff PT. I had gone from working as a Performance Physical Therapist and been thrown back into the role of a regular staff PT.


My volume was very high at this position, primarily because of sick call in the mornings. Some days I would see 8 people between 6 and 8 am. Other days it would be 10+. Add on the rest of our patient caseload and 20+ patient encounters per day was pretty normal.


At my Brigade position I was teaching strength/conditioning classes, working on injury prevention projects and seeing patients about 50% of the time. This mix was perfect for me. I loved the diversity and I loved the performance based work. It was honestly my dream job and I would have stayed forever if the Army would have kept me there.


September 2013 was the same month I decided to leave the Army and open my own clinic. In June of 2014, I was officially out of the Army and on my own. I wanted to recreate the role I had at my Brigade. I wanted to function as a Performance Physical Therapist again and I did that by opening a cash practice in a gym. This was one of the most difficult but rewarding things I’ve ever done in my career.

I’ve never once sat in my car, not wanting to drive to work since I started my own practice. I’m up most mornings at 430 am because I start seeing patients at 6 am. I’m excited every morning to get to the office and work with our patients. I’m excited to build a business and work with really talented PTs in our business.


I tell you this because I know some of you have sat in your car and not wanted to go to work. I know that you were told PT was such a great profession. You would have an amazing work life balance and be able to really help people.


Then you graduated, got a job at a corporate owned PT mill and now you see 25+ patients a day. You spend the whole day running back and forth between patients, trying to leverage a tech as best you can and you feel more like a waiter than a PT.

You also have hours of documentation to do and you’re constantly getting more and more questionnaires to have your patients fill out. You’re also told what you can and can’t do based on what insurance says they will reimburse you for. Maybe you need to spend 30 minutes just listening to your frustrated patient but you can’t because you have two other patients who just arrived and you can’t exactly bill for listening.

I see a disturbing trend happening with good PTs deciding to leave the profession. They are looking for other way to use their skills. Maybe they move into the business world. Maybe they go back to school and find a different profession.


Either way, I find it sad that my colleagues are forced into a decision like this. The real question I have is, do you not want to be a PT or do you not want to be a PT in the current work environment you are in?

What if you saw 5-7 patients per day? What if every single one of these people was motivated, compliant and wanted nothing more than to get better? What if you used your skill set based on what was best for the patient, not what Blue Cross says you can/can’t do? What if you could make 50-100% more than working in that PT mill job?

Would you still want to change careers if that was your reality?


I’m guessing the answer for many of you is no. You would love that opportunity and you wouldn’t try and come a manager a Home Depot just because you don’t know what else to do.

Well that’s our current reality. Performance PT practices like Athletes’ Potential are popping up all over the country. I know because I’ve talked to and helped literally hundreds of PTs move this direction.


My mentor Kelly Starrett once told me. “If you can’t find the job of your dreams, you have to create the job of your dreams.”


That’s a very true statement and you can do it. Click below to get a copy of my Cash PT Roadmap. I’ll show you the 6 steps you need to take and the 3 big mistakes you can’t afford to make.

Insert this link with a picture of the roadmap.


If you’re looking for a way out, there is a way. It’s not the easy path but it will change your life forever. You’ve just got to be willing to be on yourself.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *