As I sit here preparing for interviews for my first job as a new grad Physical Therapist (PT), I ask myself: what am I looking for in a job?
Competitive salary, of course everyone wants that. But there is a lot more that goes into finding a job that is right for you.
This is especially important in this field of Physical Therapy where burnout is a major issue.
If you go on the internet and social media, you will more than likely see many PTs expressing how they are burnt out and as a result some are trying to reduce the number of hours worked or completely transition out of the field. A few main reasons for this change is to have a better work life balance and have more fulfillment and satisfaction.
With me knowing this, along with feeling burnt out myself on one of my clinical rotations just as a STUDENT - I have been putting a lot of thought into...
What I am looking for in a job...
What aspects of a job I am willing to compromise on vs what I am not...
After some deep reflection, some things that I realized are of significance and value to me are:
Autonomy in regard to treatment:
Being able to treat my patients with evidence based interventions that are BEST for them, not with interventions that BILL the most is VERY important to me.
I've been in clinics where a cookie cutter approach is taken with every patient. Everyone gets ultrasound, E-stim, and Manual Therapy just because it reimburses well.
I want to be able to create a plan of care based on interventions that have been shown to have long lasting effects instead of temporary relief.
Realistic productivity standards:
I completed my clinical rotation in a clinic where the therapists were seeing 3 patients per hour. Delivering high quality of care is a priority for me, and that requires being able to devote the proper time and attention to patients.
This leads me to my next point. MY values and the company's values have to align. I value patient care and aspire to work for a company that does as well.
It is quite impossible to effectively treat 3-4 patients in ONE hour without someone being neglected... without someone not getting the attention they need.
With that being said, I’ve also seen clinics over medicalized physical therapy services. There were times where a patient would get better within 3-4 visits but the therapists were pressured to have the patient continue with therapy.
If I know the patient is improving and will likely not need additional visits, I don't want to feel pressured to have them come to therapy solely for financial reasons.
This does a disservice to not only that patient but also other patients who can actually benefit from physical therapy services, but aren’t able to schedule appointments yet due to there not being any openings.
Working with a company that values and invests in their staff:
I want to know that the company values me and will invest in my growth as a clinician. This can be through the form of continuing education opportunities as well as mentorship...
Although I have graduated and I am no longer an "official" student I consider myself a long long student.
It is imperative to have a mentor… ESPECIALLY as a new grad.
I don't want to feel like I am being thrown in the deep end without knowing how to swim.
Having a mentor who is where I aspire to be and is someone I can learn from will aid in my growth as a clinician.
Lastly, working in a positive environment:
Somewhere I can be myself, not feel like I am walking on eggshells, and ultimately learn from and bounce ideas off others around me will be my ideal environment to work in.
After reflecting on my values and what I am looking for has made preparing for interviews less nerve wracking.
I realized that during interviews, just as much as the employer is trying to see if I am a right fit for them, I am doing the same.
I have to determine if they are a right fit for ME.
But without deep reflection and first figuring out your own personal values, it will be difficult to ensure that something is the right fit for you.
So I encourage you to think about these things and get a firm understanding of what is important to YOU, what qualities you value, and what you aspire to get out of a job especially as a new grad because this is the foundation for your career!
You want to start off on the right foot.