You’ve finished physical therapy school, passed your board exam, and landed your first job – now what? There are many things new graduates expect from starting their very first job and other things they do not. Today we will look at a few things to know when you start your career as a physical therapist.
1) You aren’t going to know everything – as physical therapists, we are naturally wired to want to help everybody. This is great, but there will be some instances and some patients where you won’t have the answer. That’s okay. The good news is our staff are on this patient care journey to help people. In situations you may not have the answer, lean on your colleagues to brainstorm possible solutions. At the end of the day, patients want to get better. If that takes some collaboration on a new treatment idea or what to do next with a patient, then do it.
2) Work/life balance is key – finishing physical therapy school and wanting to eat, sleep and breathe patient care is easy. Need to come in early to see a patient? Done. Need to stay late to see a patient? Sure, why not. Can you do this Monday through Friday? Yeah, no problem. Whew. This may work for a little while, but I spy burnout coming up around the corner. This was me at the start of my career several years ago. I felt like I was doing everything I could to support my colleagues and patients. It was invigorating at first, but eventually, I started to tire out. I was headed for burnout quickly. It’s important to set boundaries between your work and personal lives. Identify days and times you can be flexible with your work hours and stretch yourself a bit, but also identify days and times you aren’t. Develop a healthy relationship using your PTO as well.
3) Repetitions, repetitions, repetitions – you will make mistakes throughout your career; these are opportunities to learn. With time and repetition, you will become more familiar with advanced treatment techniques, day-to-day clinic operations, insurance-related tasks, etc. Repetition is the best way to soak this all in. It’s just like playing a sport or learning to play an instrument. The more you practice the skills, the better you get at completing them successfully.
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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.