The Monday Memo
August 20, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
What do I do after PT school?
As a 2nd-year Physical Therapy student, you can not help but wonder, “what am I going to do after I graduate?” This thought crosses my mind more than it should, probably at least once per day, and my decision changes just as frequently. While it may make the final decision more difficult, Physical Therapists are fortunate to work in a field that offers such a variety of settings and opportunities. There are many variables that contribute to this decision including but not limited to, the level of compensation, the geographical area, the frequency of opportunities for promotion, the work environment, and arguably most important, finding the setting that interests you most. Below, I am going to discuss a few options that I have looked into, as well as, offer some resources to further inspect them yourself. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of options, but some that I have come across during my search.
The first option and probably most well known is getting hired into a permanent job in an outpatient clinic or inpatient setting. Most people can quickly decide between inpatient or outpatient, but once this choice is made there are a variety of options within each. Below are some of the options available:
- Outpatient Clinic – Offers services to more independent and medically stable patients, including orthopedic, neurological, and cardiovascular interventions
- Inpatient – Hospital (neurological, cardiac, cardiothoracic, intensive care unit), skilled nursing facility, inpatient rehabilitation, long-term acute care
Also, something common in all settings of physical therapy is the difference in compensation per state. Each state has a different range of salary based on a multitude of factors. Here is a graphic from 2015 from https://www.google.com/amp/s/updocmedia.com/2015-pt-job-market-outlook-v2/amp/?source=images breaking down the pay for each state.
Second, an option that I have heavily considered, is going into travel physical therapy. Travel PT is essentially working contract to contract, typically lasting around 13 weeks, for different clinics on an as-needed basis. Luckily, there are established companies that you as a clinician can work through that find openings in clinics that you are willing to work in. Some of the benefits of travel PT include pay that may be significantly higher than a permanent position, per firm payment, exposure to multiple clinics, and ability to work in different demographics. Here https://www.hosthealthcare.com/how-to-choose-a-travel-therapy-company/ Host Healthcare breaks down some points to focus on when considering travel PT.
Finally, another option that I have considered is completing a Physical Therapy Residency. My interests lie in Sports Medicine and orthopedic physical therapy, but there are residency programs offered in many settings. Completing a residency is beneficial for improving your skills as a clinician and can be a quicker way to become specialized in an area. Typically, a residency program is between 18-24 months and has a set curriculum that you will complete during your time there. Most programs include carrying a caseload throughout the week, completing a set amount of credits during your time in the program, involvement as a teaching assistant at a university or within a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, and attending rounds on a weekly or monthly basis. Some programs also require participation in research, but that varies depending on the program. Below is a link to a directory for all accredited residency programs. You can follow the link to each program to get more info about the specific requirements.
Always remember, whatever setting you choose is not set in stone. It is possible to be fluid throughout multiple settings during your career. Find the area that currently interests you the most, and work to the best of your abilities to help patients in need.
– Jim Tersak, SPT CSCS