- Who are you and why did you go into PT?
My name is Bobby Prengle, PT, DPT, CSCS. I recently graduated from PT school at Duke University and did a year-long Orthopedic Residency at the Brooks Institute of Higher Learning in Jacksonville, FL. I currently work for Par4Success in Raleigh, NC. I went into PT because I was your typical "always hurt" athlete in high school. I played four sports and spent just as much time rehabbing various injuries at almost every joint in my body as I did playing those sports. My goal is to change the way we work with athletes of all ages so that they stay healthy and working towards their goals, not spending time getting back to their baseline function. Kids and adults are facing serious challenges to staying healthy and active these days, and it's our job as sports physical therapists to promote an active lifestyle. I also love both the challenge and the opportunity in the current PT/healthcare landscape!
- What has been the biggest challenge going from school to the clinic?
There have been tons of challenges. The first was clinically - I can vividly remember the first times I had to do PROM on a fresh post-op shoulder, and my first time for many special tests like Sharp-Purser. The training wheels really do come off! Residency gave me a perfect transition from being a student to becoming a higher-level thinker - the training wheels were off, so to say, but I had a team of experienced and high-level clinicians guiding me through that first year. The second, now in my transition into a cash-based practice, is trying to draw on limited experience to really provide top-notch care. Again, I have a wonderful team around me that provides further mentorship so that I can keep growing and learning. There's also a LOT of business/marketing/strategy that is not taught in PT school. There's a lot of trial by error in those departments!
- What type of setting are you in and what is a typical day for you?
We are a cash-based physical therapy and sports performance clinic with a focus on golf performance. We currently have 2 locations - a privately owned gym and a satellite clinic at a country club that I am heading up. There is no typical day right now when trying to grow a business! Some days, I see clients throughout the morning at either location, all one-on-one care, and am busy coaching our junior or adult performance classes in the evenings. There are lots of meetings and planning sessions. We run events such as pop-up clinics at Orange Theory Fitness locations, driving range events, and even started a podcast! I also sometimes have meetings with local golf pros to talk about clients that work with both of us. We are also busy with multiple research projects going on right now, and I have taken the role of Data Miner and Organizer for both of those projects! So, nothing typical, always an adventure, and I am constantly changing out which hat I wear.
- What are your tips and tricks for expanding the golf/fitness end of the clinic?
The biggest tip is to show someone your value to them as a golfer by finding out what matters most to that person. Some people hate that their back constantly hurts while they play - we can certainly help with that! Some people really don't care that they have to take 3-4 Advil during a round, they're just mad that they can't hit the ball as far as they used to. Again, there are tons of ways we as PT's can help you hit the ball further. If your hip only internally rotates 15 degrees (which is fairly common!), you won't swing very fast. If I can get you 30 or even 45 degrees, that completely changes things, and golfers can feel the difference on the range. That will probably make your back feel better too. So, it's really about having a big toolbox available to you so you can reach people where they are. Golfers are a competitive bunch - if you can show them just how much you can help, they'll certainly buy in. You also definitely need to know the difference between a 4 iron (ball goes further!) and a 9 iron (ball doesn't go as far), and recognizing a slice vs. a pull or hook is helpful as well. Watch a few tournament highlights and know who your clients' favorite golfers are! This is a super easy group to have a conversation with during a session.
- What are your goals for the future and what will you do to achieve these goals?
We have some pretty serious expansion goals in the future! Short-term, I would certainly love to expand the satellite clinic and build it up so much that we need to hire another PT. We're working on tons of different fronts to build it up - events, the podcast, pop-up clinics, and presentations for other local fitness communities. One of our main goals is to become leaders in the push towards reinventing healthcare, especially for physical therapy. Connecting with, supporting, and networking with other cash-based PT's is a great way to achieve this.
- What is your advice for pre-PT, SPT, staff PTs, aspiring clinic owners, or current clinic owners?
Especially for the SPT's and the pre-PT's - have a goal, but be flexible. I knew before even going to college that I wanted to work with athletes, but by being flexible and open to trying new things, I landed at Par4Success, which couldn't be a better fit. Don't be afraid to walk a slightly different path, but always be moving forward! Reach out to local business owners for shadowing opportunities, talk to your local alumni from your PT program about ways to get involved, and really go after unique experiences you can find. As a student, you're certainly not expected to have all the answers right away, but always be seeking to find them! Furthermore, this generation of therapists has a unique challenge when it comes to advocating for our profession. You can get involved with your local, state and national association, but you can also advocate by being a powerful voice in your local community. We offer so much to patients, and we can help so many people out there! It's important to get the word out about what we do so we can help as many people as possible.
Thanks Again to Dr. Bobby Prengle for his awesome words of wisdom. For more insights and advice from real-world PTs check out the Experience Series.