Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist

Dr. Rehab

Los Angeles, CA

Female, 31

I'm a practicing PT with a Doctorate for the past 4 years now. Although it may not seem like a long time, I have gained extensive knowledge and experience in various PT settings. I've worked anywhere from outpatient therapy, home health, aquatic therapy, inpatient rehab, and private clients. I now also instruct on an online prep course for graduates seeking to pass their National Board Examination. PT is a very rewarding job, but can also SUCK, which explains my quest to find the ideal situation

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Last Answer on February 15, 2013

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What part of the job "SUCKS", as you put it?

Asked by The Tortoise over 4 years ago

Patient care certainly doesn't suck, as it is very rewarding and satisfying to work with patients and see them get better! The 'sucky' part is really the insurance aspect of the business. There are a lot of debates going on with the situation of our national healthcare system right now. What I can tell you about Physical Therapy is the ongoing decrease in re-imbursement from insurance companies for rehab services, particularly in the private sector. From my experience in a private PT owned clinic, it was a constant battle to fight for more benefits for my patients. A newly amended Senate Bill No. 924 would bar all physical therapists from treating a patient beyond 30 days (or 12 visits) unless the patient obtains a diagnosis from a licensed physician or podiatrist. If you know anything about rehab, it's not something that can be done quickly, nor should it. It's just another hoop for our patients who need skilled care to go through in order to get insurance companies to loosen their purse strings. It's not fair for an elderly person to have to go back to their physician, wait 45 min, only to get a piece of paper saying it's ok to continue their rehab. And with the constant reduction in insurance benefits, it forces smaller independent owned clinics to have to book their patients in 20 or 30 min time slots just to stay afloat. This reduces the amount of skilled care a patient will get directly with a licensed therapist. This results in an unhappy situation for everyone. For some, this is just part of the business to get through. But I'm spending half my day on the phone with an insurance provider, and writing notes documenting why my 75 year old post total hip replacement patient needs more than 12 visits so she can be functional and mobile again safely. It really isn't fair when I could better use my time on valuable patient care.

Do you feel like physical therapists get slighted by M.D.'s for not being "real doctors?"

Asked by Caliwaze over 4 years ago

There are definitely a lot of big egos to deal with in the health and medical profession. Society seems to label "real doctors" as M.D.s or Physicians. Keep in mind that Doctor is really just a title. A Dentist is a Doctor of dentistry. An Optometrist has a Doctorate in optometry, etc. And it's really a title indicating that someone as achieved the terminal degree in their profession. I've definitely seen colleagues slighted by M.D.'s and feel they don't get the respect they want or deserve. To me, it's not a huge deal. I develop personal relationships with my patients since I tend to see them often for any given injury. So I go on a first name basis. Everyone has their expertise and specialize in something, and I think it's more important to have collaborative effort with good communication with other health professionals for the sake of our patients well-being. And the majority of surgeons and physicians understand and respect that. Of course, there is always going to be that one M.D. who acts like a giant douche. In the end, we are the ones that see and work with the patient. And I can honestly say, we PTs are not afraid to stick to our guns and do what we feel is best for our patients.

What's the difference between a physical therapist and an occupational therapist? Are they totally different, or is there overlap?

Asked by jerry silber over 4 years ago

There is definitely overlap between the two professions. OTs help people of all ages to improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. This sounds very familiar to PTs, but OTs can focus on things like showing a patient how to dress, groom, shower, etc. They do this by also working on mobility, strength, and functional capabilities. So there are many similarities, but each profession has a different focus. OTs are trained to modify the physical environment as well as training the person to use assistive equipment to increase independence. PTs are trained to identify and maximize quality of life and movement potential within the realms of promotion, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, intervention, and rehabilitation. Both professions are booming in this healthcare industry.

How do physical therapist salaries compare to those of physicians?

Asked by Ajay over 4 years ago

U.S. National averages are anywhere from $65K to $90K. This, of course, depends on setting, state, and years of experience. I recently read an article listing PT as the #4 Best Paying Job of the Future. Here are some of the stats they included: > Pct. increase: 39.0% > Total new jobs (2010-2020): 77,400 > Median income: $76,310 > States with the most jobs per capita: Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine This is largely in part to the baby boomers getting old. I can confidently say that I've never had a problem getting, finding, maintaining a PT job. They are abundant and you won't have to worry about never finding work. Your everyday Physician makes over $100k on average. And that number increases with how specialized you are. I suppose you will want to consider amount of school, residency, long hours, stress, and the fact that people's lives are in your hands, if you want to be a M.D. PT is flexible and there are tons of settings you can choose to practice in. It's not a ton of money for the amount of school you go through, but it can definitely be worth it in the end. Heck, I now instruct and assist my future colleagues in my PJ's at home. Sweet? I think so.

Are hand and wrist problems more common now that so many people sit in front of a computer all day?

Asked by V_Davis over 4 years ago

Hand and wrist problems are definitely more common these days, particularly carpal tunnel syndrome. Another common problem attributed to all that sitting is poor posture and neck/back issues. Many of these issues can be solved with good ergonomics; so proper desk set-up, chairs with lumbar support, computer screen positioned to maximize proper body alignment, etc. In addition to good ergonomics, daily stretching and strengthening exercises will do wonders for those common aches and pains. It's also always a good idea to take frequent breaks so you can just get up and get some fresh air. It's never fun to be cooped up all day indoors and in front of a computer screen.

Do friends and relatives ask you for a lot of free advice and treatment? Does this bother you, or do you welcome it?

Asked by B. Potts over 4 years ago

I actually welcome it. It's a nice feeling to help people out especially if they are seeking it. PT is a bit like a 'people pleaser' profession, so I don't think I'd be going out on a limb in saying that most PT's don't get bothered by friends/family members asking for advice. It's also a great way for us to share our knowledge and educate people on exactly what PT is all about. Those who haven't experienced it first-hand might view PT as a place to get a massage that insurance pays for. But it's so much more than that. PT's are movement specialists and trained to identify and treat biomechanical faults. so I really welcome any bombardment of questions from anyone :).

What's the most dramatic "before-and-after" improvement you've ever seen with a patient?

Asked by Melissa 3oh3 over 4 years ago

Great question! Last year, I had a 20 year old girl suffer multiple injuries from a car accident. She came to me in a wheelchair with fractures to both of her legs, right wrist, four ribs, dislocated left shoulder, and whiplash to top it off. Naturally, her spirits were very low and often cried during our sessions. You can imagine how tough it would be to go from being a super active college kid, to essentially confined to a wheelchair. Well, we worked through her struggles with a lot of encouragement and effort. She essentially had to be taught how to walk again. It's amazing and pretty badass to see the transformation of any patient who gains their independence back by what you've done. Imagine a long montage with Rocky-type music in the background of me stretching her legs, mobilizing her shoulder, having a small celebration when she shakily stands up from her wheelchair alone - to taking her first steps without crutches - to me shouting at her to squat deeper while I add more weights. Yeah, it's pretty much a progression like that, just a lot longer with a lot of patience. She now competes and kicks ass in those cross-fit games!