Where’s the PT career I dreamed about in PT school?

I dropped my backpack and sunk into the couch. 

I had held it together all day and I was now moments away from a full blown pity party. I HATE talking about these moments, but the more people I talk to, the more I realize we all have them.  

I had finished an average day in the clinic.  A day that in isolation would not have seemed that bad.  But, it felt like it was my millionth average day in a row.  I was just going into work, treating patients, listening to their problems (many not even PT related), and going home absolutely exhausted.

The monotony and emotional fatigue started an unstoppable stream of thoughts. 

PT sucks. I hate work. I can’t listen to anymore patients.

I can’t listen to anymore complaints. Is it really THAT hard to do home exercises?

What about me, am I in the same place I was last year? Have I made ANY progress toward the career I want? Holy crap, I haven’t.

Seriously, is this all there is? Does an...

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The Real Reason You Don't Love Your Career In PT

“How long have you been practicing?” she asked me.

“Almost 5 years,” I said, thinking nothing of it.

“Wow, I would have never expected it to be that long,” she quickly replied.

I went from relaxed to uneasy instantaneously.  Wow, five years is a long time.  Is she asking because I seem like a novice?  Am I still a novice? I guess I’m not as far as I should be or as far as I thought I would be.  She’s right, I should have accomplished more than this by now. What have I been doing for five years?  

I thought all of these things in the slight pause before she followed it up with, “You look like you’re 21.”

This patient encounter happened a while ago, but the uncertainty it caused stuck around for a while.  In fact, I’m not sure it ever left. I think its been there all along. Since PT school, I’ve wondered if I am enough and if I’m doing enough.  The doubts and...

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I don’t know what I want to do next in physical therapy

“What do you mean?”  I asked. I knew what he was asking, but I didn’t have a response and was trying to buy some time.

He repeated the same question, “What do you want to do next?”

If I knew the answer to his question, I wouldn’t be sitting across from him in the first place.  I didn’t know what I wanted.  

I had recently taken my SCS exam.  The first few weeks had been freeing.  I could relax on the weekend without the guilt of having to study and there were huge amounts of time that hadn’t existed a few months earlier.  

For some reason though, I felt lost.  The relaxation and lack of stress had turned into boredom and disinterest in what I was doing.  I was waking up, going to work, coming home and then getting up the next day to do it all over again.  I felt like I was just going through the motions day in and day out.

This was a weird feeling for me.  I ALWAYS knew what...

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I had one of the best weeks

Anyone that knows me won’t be surprised when I say that last week was one of the best weeks.  To be fair, I frequently have great weeks. My positivity is able to turn a bad week into at least a decent one. But that’s not what made this past week so awesome. 

The week was extremely busy with things that had to get done and I was going from one thing to another.  In the process I had one of the greatest insights of my career. So much so, that it was all I could think about and all I could talk about for the entire week.  Everyone heard my epiphany (It was regarding how many months someone should wait after ACL reconstruction to return to sport.) Not only was it an epiphany, but I also found a better way to explain how to implement systematic injury prevention.  

While these insights are certainly great and I'm glad to share them (click here to get notified when they are released on philplisky.com), what I think was more insightful was when I...

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So the barista asked me, is a career in PT worth it?

Barista: “HEY! I heard you’re a PT, I’m going to school for PT!”

Me: “Ah, that’s great are you in PT school now?”  thinking maybe I’d see her in class in the future.

Barista:  “No, I just started undergrad.  “It’s worth it, right?!” she said enthusiastically smile.

Before I could answer I had a moment of panic.  Surprised by the feeling, I paused. For a while, I would not have hesitated to sing the praises of the physical therapy profession, but that wasn’t what I was feeling.  I was worried for her.  

Here was this innocent, excited undergrad student looking forward to a profession that so many people don’t necessarily love. And she still had time.  She could still get out. She could change her major if she wanted to.

I’m not one to crush dreams and I’m also an eternal optimist.  And so I told her, “It will be worth it.”

I believe...

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Are student loans holding you back?

Summer came and you didn’t go on that vacation with your friends.  You were invited to an expensive restaurant and left hungry after ordering a small salad.    An awesome continuing education course was within driving distance, but you didn’t go.  

PT school loans (and often undergrad loans) suck.  We go to school for seven years and can’t afford to do the things our peers do (and oftentimes, they can’t actually afford to do them either). When we finally do get an income, too much of it goes to paying off our student loans.

Since I graduated PT school, one of my main goals was to have paid speaking opportunities.  It had been recommended by multiple people to take a professional speaking course as a step to achieving that goal.  

Everyone raved about how much it would help me, but this wasn’t a cheap course.  It cost $2,000 dollars, was only offered once a year across the country, and required four full...

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I Don’t Know What's Next For My PT Career - A Case Study

Sarah was like many new graduates.  She was excited for her first job and even more excited to finally be getting a paycheck.  Sarah didn’t want to settle for her first job and she worked really hard to find a place where she enjoyed working.

After starting there, she was surprised at the amount of paperwork and other things she had to do, but overall enjoyed getting her patients better (many of them anyway).  The annoyances were tolerable and were overshadowed by the continuing education courses and other opportunities she had. She could feel herself gaining the skills that put her next to PTs she admired, but her career wasn’t anywhere close to where she wanted it to be.

Side note: As always, we change people’s names and identifying information for privacy purposes, but the story and outcomes remain unchanged

About 18 months into her job, it started to get monotonous (maybe even a bit boring). She would go to a continuing education course, get...

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Do you feel guilty as a PT not wanting to treat patients from 8-5 for the rest of your career?

Over the past few months, I have heard one common heartbreaking theme expressed by many of our coaching clients in the Bulletproof Career Rebellion. Frequently, they share similar statements followed by some tears. Statements like the following seem to be more common than any other topics discussed.

“I know this makes me a bad PT, but I just don’t want to be in the clinic full-time.”


“I hate to say this, but I really don’t want to treat patients full-time five years from now.”

This just breaks my heart. Not for the reason you may think. You would think I would be sad that they don’t want to be in patient care anymore. That’s not it. I am sad because they feel guilty for wanting to fulfill their dreams. I feel badly because these individuals assume that if they don’t want to work 9-5 in the clinic then that’s all there is and all there will be. If you have ever felt this way, stop blaming yourself and know that there is...

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You're Not Lazy

Have you ever sat in front of an email for what feels like hours trying to determine what it will read like for the other person and whether or not you should send it?

Or have you ever known exactly what you want to accomplish, had some free time, yet found yourself doing anything BUT what you planned to complete?

It’s been more than a few times that I found myself in someway procrastinating the goals that I had set for myself.  And I know I’m not the only one.

When we do this - procrastinate, avoid, or forget our own goals - we are quick to blame ourselves.  We feel lazy or unmotivated. But, is that the real culprit? More often than not, there’s another reason.  Perfection, fear of failure/rejection, and uncertainty all work to derail us from our goals and our path.

I recently met with one of our Rebels, Justin, to discuss his progress on his goals.  (Side note: Justin’s name and identifying information has been changed for privacy...

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Hating your job may be the fastest way to having the one you love

Case study on going from a PT job you hate to a new one you love.

Many of us know the feeling.  You don’t want to get out of bed on Monday morning and when you finally do, the dread of going into work is like anticipating a practical exam.  During PT school, you swore nothing would be as bad as having to take practicals and you counted down the days to when they would be a thing of the past.  But then something happened. You found yourself in a job you don’t love realizing that you would rather do a practical exam than go into work… yeah, your job feels that bad.

If you have a job that makes you miss the days of being a stressed student with no paycheck, I feel for you.  Feeling like you hate work is not something you signed up for when you gave up seven years of your life and a ton of money.  But, I have to tell you something important. Hating your job may be the fastest way to having the one you love.  Hating your job may be a good...

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