If I Ran The World…or at Least the PT World

If I ran the world, outpatient physical therapy clinics would only be open from 8:30-2:30pm. Employers would be flexible enough to allow their employees to flex their time to have physical therapy during the day. And all commuting would be done on magical rainbow unicorns – OK, maybe that last one is stretching things a bit too far.

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Why am I daydreaming about this? I just sent my youngest child to kindergarten this year. After eight years…I find myself at home…alone. I am not quite sure what to do with myself. I want to work. I have spent too much time and money on my education not to work. I like working. In fact, I do work two days a week and I work until closing. Which means that by the time I am done charting and driving home, my kids have already had dinner and are almost ready for bed. So that leaves me three other days a week that I am home. Home…not because I am unwilling to work, but because I am picking my family over the crazy demands of working in an outpatient clinic. Because of my choice to want to be home when my kids are home, I am a bit hard to hire the other three days of the week. Saying that you are available three days of the week from 8:30-2:30 is not the most popular way to get yourself hired. No, this is not a plea for someone to hire me, but a challenge to employers out there. I think we can do things differently, and it just might work. This may sound like I live in some modern dream bubble from the 1950s that merged with today, but I want to be the one who picks my kids up from school, bakes cookies, and hears about their day; as well as have a fulfilling and rewarding career. I don’t think that my dream is that farfetched; because when I teach, I hear this same sentiment from almost every mom in the class.

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According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014 69.8% of 244,000 employed physical therapists are women. That’s more than two-thirds! So how do we harness all this great girl power? Even though in my dream I would like clinics to only be open from 8:30-2:30, I know that it isn’t practical. What I do think is practical is getting together a group of highly educated and fellowship trained females to open a practice together. You have a clinic that needs to be open 40hrs per week and you tell them to work it out themselves. They pick the hours and days that work for them on that given week. As the empty nester, maybe you want to get up and do yoga before work and do not mind working late. As the young mom, you are already up at 5:30am so why not go to work at 7? As the employer, you have specific hours that you want the clinic open, but who is specifically working what hours can be left up to the therapists. You give them the freedom to balance their home and work life and they will be the most loyal employees you can find.

So until I can find this village of women to make this clinic a reality I will be treating patients on a cash pay basis when it is convenient for both parties involved. Why do I think this will work? Very simply – education. My fellowship training has given me the skill set to make my services valuable. Valuable enough that I currently have a patient that drives one and a half hours each way to see me because his comment to me was that I helped him more in two visits than his previous therapist did in six months. Valuable enough that a person is willing to switch their lunch hour to 10am so that we can both be done with work by the time our kids are out of school. Valuable enough that patients can see the difference your education has made in your ability to treat them that they are willing to work with your schedule.

So what do you think?!

NAIOMT Faculty, Stacy Soappman, PT, DSc, COMT, FAAOMPT
NAIOMT Faculty, Stacy Soappman, PT, DSc, COMT, FAAOMPT

Stacy Soappman, PT, DSc, COMT, FAAOMPT

Stacy teaches manual therapy around the country as a faculty member of NAIOMT. She also does extensive mentoring with fellowship students through NAIOMT’s Manual Therapy Clinical Fellowship Program. To find an upcoming course with Stacy or another NAIOMT instructor browse our fall manual therapy continuing education schedule.

4 thoughts on “If I Ran The World…or at Least the PT World

  1. Well said! I LOVE being a PT! I am so blessed to have a career that allows me flexibility and multiple work options. Employers have to see the value in employees who LOVE what they do and have value to bring to the clinic!

    I worked part time, PRN, and switched to home health care (which I vowed I’d never do!) in order to meet the needs of my family over the years. Now I’m back in outpatient ortho working full time in a clinic and loving the work I do. I have learned valuable lessons from each stage in my life and I refuse to apologize for raising the 4 children I brought into this world. My husband and I have been married 28 years. We have 4 children, a 22 year old starting the Pharm D program at the university of Texas, a 20 year old who was deemed special needs… But is a successful junior on the deans list at the Univ of North Texas in finance, a freshman in engineering at Virginia Tech, and a sophomore in high school. I can’t take all of the credit for their good choices, but I know the ability to be flexible in my work paid off. I have been a PT 23 years and am now finishing the transitional DPT and I passed the OCS exam this year. It’s my turn! And I’m so looking forward to completing further certifications. But mostly I’m so blessed to have a career where I can make a difference in other people’s lives and still meet the need of my family.

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  2. Hear! Hear! I couldn’t agree more! Fortunately for me I work in an outpatient clinic that employees enough therapists that working varying (including school only) hours is an option. Having years of experience and specialty training (through NAIOMT) also makes my services valuable enough people are willing to adjust their schedules. I do agree employers should be more understanding regarding allowing time for midday appointments; unfortunately the Healthcare industry seems to be one of the worst!

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  3. Unfortunately, we live in a society that doesn’t value health enough to give employees flexibility in their schedules. Many people that need care, need to fit it in before or after work. We have attempted to accommodate all my moms to give full time benefits if she works >30 hrs/wk and a flexible schedule to accommodate some after school hours so we share the load. We do want to offer quality care the those unfortunates that can’t make it in before 2:30 pm. So we open at 6am and close at 6 pm. Everyone takes her turn 2 afternoons a week. I always worked 6 am to 1 pm to allow for me to have the afternoons with my kids. My husband took the morning shift.

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