Today's post is from Meredith Castin of The Non-Clinical PT. Thanks Meredith!
You’ve probably heard plenty of grumbling about how the times are a-changin’ in the PT world. Reimbursements are falling and salaries are stagnant at best. Perhaps your loans are looming at epic proportions and you wonder how you’ll ever land a job where you’ll pay them off, much less make a solid living in the process.
Here’s the thing. Lots of PTs are extremely successful in today’s healthcare climate--they’re just changing their approach by seeing themselves as a hot commodity and putting themselves out there as soon as possible.
If you spend any time online (which you must, if you’re following this awesome website and reading this article), you’ll notice that some PTs are just savvy with technology. They’re putting themselves out there and they’re getting noticed. They’re interacting with influencers online and they’re making names for themselves before they’ve even finished PT school.
They’re creating their own online brands for themselves, and you bet your bottom they’ll be the ones getting snatched up for the best jobs when they graduate!
Frankly, I was not that person during school, and I regret it. I waited until I’d been out of school for four years before I even started to make a name for myself online, and I’m writing this article so that you don’t make the same mistake.
Start That Website:
If you’re a PT student or a new grad, you need to start a blog or a website--whatever you want to call it. It’s easy. Just hit up Wix or Squarespace, or Wordpress (that’s my fave and what I use for TheNonClinicalPT.com), and it’s blindingly simple to get things started. But here’s an inexpensive class to de-mystify Wordpress, just in case you like to understand all the bells and whistles, and get an idea of how to maximize your efforts. I do recommend taking a basic course.
In any case, writing about a topic for long enough eventually makes you the expert on that topic. Whether you opt to stay in patient care or leave patient care to leverage your physical degree in a non-clinical career, you need to write about something at least loosely related to physical therapy. Write about what interests you, and what comes naturally. You’ll never find me writing about tibiofibular mobilizations because I don’t find that topic inspiring. I write about non-clinical careers about PTs because that’s what I know.
As for you, you can talk about studying success, the trials and tribulations of being a student, careers, finding good clinicals, technology, networking, ballet, badminton, or whatever else you feel compelled to cover.
Notice how I included ballet and badminton? When I first started writing, it was at the behest of my co-worker (at the time), Brett Kestenbaum, DPT. He wanted to start a website for new physical therapists and I was like, “I don’t really like being a PT. I don’t even know if I want to keep treating patients much longer. Why would I create a website to help new grads? What if I have nothing to offer? WHAT WILL I WRITE ABOUT?”
Well, I figured, at least I knew I liked writing, so I went for it, and I wound up writing about the one thing I did know--how to get the most out of my degree without burning out. I didn’t enjoy treating full-time, so I covered topics about working per diem, preventing burnout, and alternate paths for physical therapists.
Lo and behold, after I started writing about my favorite topics--leaving patient care and leveraging my degree to become a writer, I found that people started seeking me out to do exactly that: write. It was a wonderful feeling to finally build a career around something I love.
And it wound up being my “golden parachute” for when I really did decide I needed to leave patient care behind.
That’s why you need to write. You can’t predict what will happen to you. You might want to leave patient care, or you might want to land a dream job working with professional badminton players. Or dancers. If you write about dancing, even while you’re still in school, you know a hell of a lot more about dancing and PT than 95% of the public. And as you gain experience, that number will climb to 99%. And with your name out there as being the expert about dancing and PT, you’ll land those dream jobs working with ballet companies much more easily than if you were too lazy to start a blog.
What If I Really Suck at Writing?
It’s OK...if you really hate writing, or really suck at it, you have a few options:
The main point is that you’re putting yourself out there. When you’re a student PT or a Fresh PT and you’re competing with all the others to make a name for yourself, you simply have to do something special to stand out. Otherwise, you might find yourself ten years into your profession, wanting something new, and having to start from scratch when you’re already feeling burned out.
I guess I probably should really have called this article “Why Every PT Student Needs to Put Himself or Herself Out There.” But that doesn’t really have the same ring now, does it?
Meredith Castin, PT, DPT (The Non-Clinical PT)
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