Succeed in a Physical Therapy career at a sub-acute care facility.

Time management and being Organised are tow key factors to be successful in a day. It takes good skill, a lot of patience and of course a smiling face to complete daily requirements in a given time and to go home to the family. This is especially true in a career involving human service like healthcare. with over ten years of experiences, training and trailing many different ways, I want to discuss some key factors that will land you a successful day in Physical therapy career. 

Physical therapy career

Physical therapy school is hard and long. But you survive it.  Not only that, you managed to score a decent GPA through the program as human service is your calling. You clear your NPTE on the first attempt, and now it’s the time to find a good job. A job that can take care of huge student loans, take care of you and give you some satisfaction. After all, you wanted to be a Physical therapy to serve human being and serve society!! 

With all this, it is also important to build a good career. And that starts with your first job. So, let’s talk about what should and should not be done in your first week at work to set a good impression among your colleagues, in front of your manager and get you some happiness and satisfaction at your job. 

If you are still looking for a job that is a good fit for you in a Physical therapy career, I discuss what to ask specifically during your interview process here

Before I start on tips, I want to mention that even though these tips are more for inpatient rehabilitation facilities, anyone can follow them. Majority of the key factors from below will help you manage your day and schedule in a better way no matter what type of settings you work in. You may have to tweak a little to fit them into your day!

Time Management in Physical Therapy

Time management is the key to survival in today’s fast-paced healthcare system. The ability to manage your time efficiently will land you a successful career no matter what the profession is. 

Majority of places, you will get your schedule when you start the day. Based on your schedule, you need to manage your time in the facility efficiently.

Be Efficient in your day and in your career :

Make rounds in the morning after you have your schedule. Decide the time with patients when you can see them, discuss if they will bring them self in the gym for therapy or you need to send a tech for transport. Knowing these details will save a lot of time. This way you will find out if any of your patients have an appointment. So you can provide rehab accordingly and don’t miss them! This takes less than 10 minutes and it proves a lot of necessary information. This way you can start your day right and finish it right. 

After all, a good beginning counts as half of the job done (aah, not in PT world!!)

To Plan your Career, plan your day :

Based on the rounds you make, plan your day and plan your treatments. You can ask patients to do Nustep or bikes or ther-ex while you can discuss with them their progress made in rehab. You can finish your progress note simultaneously. Same for any documentation. Patients actually like to know how good they are doing, and what kind of progress they are making.

In Physical Therapy document daily:

Sometimes, it happens, you had a long day, difficult day, too tired and you just want to go home. You finish your billing and daily notes but not documentation like progress notes, recertification, etc. But try to get into the habit of completing the documentation the day it is due. If you follow the plan out technique, you should be up to date with your documentation 95% time. No stress.

Physical therapy career is all about effective communication :

I have worked with several physical therapists who will tell me about their bad experiences in their first job, as a new grad. After all, no one knows everything and truth is no one expects you to know everything. When in doubt, communicate. Talk with senior PT in your team. If you see some problems with eating or see a patient coughing while eating, bring OT’s or SLP’s attention to it. Even though you don’t know what is wrong with the patient, you know there is something abnormal and you can just communicate with them, or communicate with your manager.

It is also very important to communicate with a social worker regarding discharge planning, with the physician if you see some drastic changes in vital signs, or with nurses, if the patient complains of stomach upset or other medical issues, etc. Communication is very important. You also need to communicate with family members when you see a change in functional status like patient walked to 50 feet first time after the surgery or after a fall. Everyone loves to hear the good news!

Take credit for what you do :

This is a little tricky. You are a skilled therapist. When someone comes to you asking a question, you turn your therapist brain on and think from that perspective, that is a skilled treatment. I always tell my staff, if it can not be done by anybody else except therapist than it is skilled. And you need to have physician’s order for PT consult to do that except you are in a state with direct access. When someone comes asking for advice for positioning, or ROM or stretching or chair, you need to think if that person can benefit from skilled services or it is required to prevent patient’s current status from further decline.

Do not work during lunchtime :

Yes, you need to relax and take time for your self. This will actually increase your efficiency and prevent you from burning out.

Leave work at work:

Do not think about patients, your treatment approaches, or how stressful your day was after you left the work for the day… It is over and you deserve to rest. Go out and have fun!

I hope you find these guidelines helpful. It’s important to serve people but it is also important to be able to do what you need to do for a long time and build a successful career in physical therapy. 

Good luck!


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NOTE: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.