The first moment I regretted choosing PT as a career


Jenna:  All right, Phil, I want to hear about a moment in your physical therapy career where you're like, oh, my gosh, why did I choose this profession? That moment when you started doubting whether or not you should have pursued physical therapy in general.  And what I mean by that is, we know that you love what you do right now.  We know that you do a lot of things.  But I think it would be wrong for people to assume that you never had that moment that a lot of people are having right now, where they're like, why did I go into this field instead of PA that makes more money or instead of finance, where you can call out on a nice Wednesday afternoon and play golf? So for you, is there any memory that you had where you were kind of starting to wonder if maybe you made the right choice or not?

Phil:  There is one very distinct memory, and it is burned in my brain. And I'm going to get to that. But I think what I want to say, though, is I think it started my second year of PT school, actually. I was like, Why did I do this? I was completely ready to drop out. I had done an acute care clinical or rehab clinical. I hated every single minute of it. It started then. I'm like, why did I do it? The only reason I continued is I was so close to being finished. I was like, this is a waste of time to not finish. You might as well get that last year done.

So it started early and remained often throughout my career. And so I always thought it was about the job, though. Every 18 months I would change jobs because I thought it was the job that was making me dissatisfied. Then I got into a place where . . . so it was probably my third job at this point in time, in a five year period. And I was sitting there, I was in a good place with good people, and I was stretching, doing range of motion on a rotator cuff repair. And it seemed like I had done that ten times that day. And I just remember sitting there thinking, "I can't do this the rest of my life, and why did I go into this? This is stupid. All I'm doing is passive range of motion on this patient with a rotator cuff repair."

And just beyond frustrated, like, what is it? Why did I waste so much time? Why did I do that? So, yeah, those moments for me, actually, I don't want to say I'm special, and I'd have to say that they happen more often for me, but they happened a lot. It literally took me and this is why I'm so passionate about the rebellion, because it took me ten years to figure out what all I wanted to do and what that all looked like. How about you was there a moment where you were like, Why did I do this?

Jenna:  Yeah, there were a couple. One was probably quickly after I finished residency. So residency was great! I was going 100 different places at once, and I like that. But then once that stopped, there was very little variety in my day. It was just patient care. And I remember finishing on a Friday, one of my last patients asked me, do you like your job? And I just remember saying, yes, but feeling like I was lying and then finishing the day and sitting down, being like, Do I like my job?  This is exhausting. This is just the same thing, kind of like you said with the rotator cuff. But I just felt like I was just day in and day out, and that was one moment, and then there was a lot of little ones after that, because it was so much of the same thing and not enough of the things that got me excited, where I was burnt out and frustrated. So it was the littlest thing would make me be like, I don't know why I did this. Over and over and over again.

Phil:  I think you're describing a common feeling. I mean, I think that's really common.

Jenna:  It's insane, though, when I think about it. A patient would be,  six minutes late, and I'm like, I chose the wrong profession. They were six minutes late. People just can't get here on time. I don't know why I'm doing this.

Phil:  Why did I go to school for this?

Jenna:  Now I have a patient six minutes late, and I'm like, It's totally fine. We'll figure it out. And I don't really care. It doesn't even register as a problem. But at that time, it was like, this might be the wrong profession.

Phil:  That's so funny. But it is. We call it catastrophizing, right?  But you imagine that, though, on a day in and day out basis, every single day.  That's why PTs, OTs, speech, they feel this way because it is when you're not . . . now, when we think we think it's just patient care. Like, oh, it's patient care that does this. Right now, you wish you could see more patients, right? To think about that is a very interesting thing. So, yeah. What a great question! Thank you.



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