Are PTs All Talk and No Action? 

Raise your hand if you’re not burned out! (Better yet, lie down under your desk and take a nap if you are!)

I started in this field just only 6 years ago and immediately I saw my colleagues used and abused and ready to retire. THEN take into account COVID, decreasing reimbursement, increased productivity demands, inflation, and just not getting a damn raise and every healthcare practitioner I know (PTs, nurses, MDs) is ready to throw in the towel and do something different. 

The conversations on social media and that I have with my PT friends are always the same… 

  • “I deserve more money” 
  • “No one knows what we do” 
  • “I’m tired” 
  • “The APTA doesn’t do anything”

Then inevitably the conversation turns to solutions that are often echoed about getting elected into offices, forcing Medicare to pay us more, teach patients and physicians about what we do… and then we all have one more drink and go home. Waking up to the same thing the next day and the next. 

So how do we get out of this cycle? I believe it’s on the individual level first. That old Ghandi quote, “Be the change you want to see” comes to mind as cheesy as that is. I’ve been studying famous/ very successful people and the biggest similarity is that they can see the world they want to live in, and then they take steps to create it. Then one day they wake up and they’re an overnight success! Rockstars, politicians (for better or worse), and entrepreneurs, are rarely truly an overnight success. 

Think for a second the things you’d like to see differently. Where do you want to make an impact? No wrong answers.

  • The health care system?
  • An individual/patient’s health?
  • Multiple Patients’ health/population health?
  • Other physical therapists?
  • Other healthcare practitioners?
  • Your wallet?

No wrong answers again (don’t feel bad about picking your own wallet), we just have to prioritize what’s important to us and most importantly how we think it should be.

In one recent thread on social media about this topic, one poster went through and basically said all the reasons things can’t change, you’d have to redesign hospitals, PT education, patient education, incentives. It’s pretty daunting when you look at all of it, but there are successes in our profession and they didn’t start overnight.

Stanley Paris, Jeff Moore, Mike Reinold and lots of other names who often teach courses literally did and are doing all of these things, redesigning schools, and making an impact in how physical therapy is utilized. One of my favorite reasons for going to live CEU courses is getting to be close to this passion and energy for change!

There’s also a growing list of tech and in person companies utilizing the knowledge of PTs to go directly to the payer and saying “hey we can get your employees healthier, rehab them, and prevent injuries cheaper and faster than your local marketplace.” 

  • You want respect from another professional, ask them about a case you have.
  • You want to change the system? Show the right people how you can either earn more for the clinic or save someone some money.
  • You want respect from PTs, get on instagram… just kidding (kind of) but ask for help and give answers.

It’s more and more apparent to me that PTs and new grads burn out fast in this profession not just because of productivity and low pay (which are problems) but because they haven’t defined what’s important to them in their career. They’ve invested lots of time and lots of money into their degree and feel that that in and of itself is enough, when in fact it’s just the starting line.