would like to give a huge thanks to Dr. Meredith Victor for sharing
such great advice and experiences. Also please take the chance to check
out NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com, its a fantastic resource.
Meredith graduated from University of St. Augustine in San Diego in
2010. She has worked in multiple settings and strived to experience as
many environments as possible. She currently works as a rehab intake
liaison at South Bay Rehab Center in San Diego, and runs
- How was the transition/learning curve coming out of school and starting your first job?
first job was pretty interesting, actually. In many ways, I had a
pretty nice situation at a hospital-based outpatient clinic. We had
charting time included both before lunch and at the end of the day, so I
almost never had to stay late or work through lunch. That was awesome!
patients' diagnoses ranged from fibromyalgia and chronic pain to the
occasional total knee replacement or orthopedic condition. We even saw
some TMJ patients and had a pool to offer aquatic therapy to our spine
and arthritis patients.
toughest part for me was feeling like I was losing some of my ortho
skills, since I really didn't get to use them that often. We had an HMO,
so our patients were subject to capitation spread throughout all the
HMO patients. That meant our clinic had chosen to provide 5 visits per
patient, unless they were post-op or special circumstances. That could
be frustrating, since new grads like to see patients for longer than 5
visits to gauge whether their treatments are effective.
challenge was the language barrier. We had quite a few patients who
either didn't speak English, or came from cultural backgrounds where
treating pain with exercise was unheard of. It was pretty difficult to
convince them of the efficacy of PT if we only had 5 visits to do so,
and most of our 30 minute treatment was spent fumbling with an awkward
translation phone. It was very frustrating, and the combination of those
factors is what ultimately led me to seek employment elsewhere.
I do really miss my coworkers, and the patients were quite sweet.
- What is your work load like and what is typical day is like for you?
have two really unique jobs right now, and I love them!!! I work as a
rehab intake liaison for South Bay Rehabilitation Center (at Paradise
Valley Hospital). The job involves no direct patient care, but there is
quite a bit of interaction with patients and their families, as well as
collaboration with other disciplines in the hospital.
role is to market and promote our fantastic sub-acute inpatient rehab
program. We spend a lot of time educating doctors, case managers,
patients and their families about the intake criteria for admission to
our facility. It is a perfect match for my personality, so I feel
incredibly blessed to have the job!
typical day involves a combination of speaking with case managers and
physicians, filling out intake paperwork, brainstorming with the team
about marketing efforts, going to various hospitals around town to meet
with potential candidates (and their families) and working on our social
media and web strategies. Before I was a PT, I was a web and graphic
designer, so I've absolutely loved being able to merge my two careers
My other "job" is running NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com,
which is a website devoted to helping new PTs with the transition from
student to professional. I love the opportunity to help new PTs carve
their own paths and provide resources that to help them tackle the
mundane tasks that take away from the joy of being a physical therapist.
those two gigs keep me pretty busy, I don't want to leave patient care
entirely. I do some per diem PT work to keep my skills sharp :)
- What do you wish you would have known/been prepared for after graduating?
wish I had known that acute care was out there. I never had a clinical
in acute, and rushed into outpatient when I graduated. I found that
having a set schedule of solo treatments was not for me. I didn't hate
it, but I felt very drained by the end of the week. I was also pretty
sore from doing manual therapy.
PT school classmate suggested I apply to an acute care job at his
facility, and it was such a great move! I much preferred the flowiness
of acute care, and I loved the interaction with OTs, nurses, MDs,
pharmacists, etc. I do much better in a collaborative environment, and I
find that acute was my favorite setting. I loved being able to help
people take their first steps after surgery, and the fact that my
patient load was always changing kept things interesting and fun.
once I was out of school for about 5 years, I really found myself
missing the creativity of design work, so it was time for a real change,
which led me to my current positions with South Bay Rehab Center and
NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com. I'm extremely happy, so I also wish someone
had told me that you don't HAVE to do patient care to use your DPT to
- Coming out of school what was compensation is like/managing student loans, etc?
I work in a large city with two PT schools, compensation is not, shall
we say, "competitive." I didn't go into physical therapy for the money,
but rather for the flexibility. I am lucky in that my husband has a
stable job with benefits, which has enabled me to create a work schedule
for myself that fits my personality. I am also able to work at a higher
per diem rate, since I opt out of benefits. I strongly urge therapists
to check out per diem work, if they're feeling burned out. With the
Affordable Care Act as an option for health insurance, you can choose to
work at several positions at a higher hourly rate, with more
flexibility. Of course you don't get paid time off with per diem, so
make sure to consider that when you make your decision!
is an excellent career for anyone who can be creative about carving a
path for themselves. It is not unusual to get burned out at some point
in your career. Some therapists work 40 years and never feel burned out.
Others are ready to leave patient care after a year of treating. Don't
judge yourself for where you land on the spectrum. Just take stock of
your strengths and your passions and life will present opportunities to
move in the right direction. Good luck, everyone!
Thanks again to Dr. Meredith Victor for her contributions to www.creatingapt.com.
Feel free to write any questions or comments in the comments section. If you feel you have something pertinent to share on www.creatingapt.com send me an email at email@example.com.
Click HERE to read about other PT's experiences.