Thinking back to when I was interviewing for acceptance into PT school a common question that came up from the interviewer was "Why do you want to become a Physical Therapist"? My answer, just as cliche as the question and not unlike many of my colleague's responses, "because I want to help people". The truth is that to the core most people in our profession are driven by restoration. Whether it's restoring someone's ability to walk again or restoring an athlete's ability to compete at a high level, we as PT's are intrinsically motivated by this simple fact. There are other factors, of course, when deciding on a profession but for those that stuck with it until the end an inner calling to "serve" was undoubtedly present.
Flash forward to my first job as a Physical Therapist when reality set in and I began to learn that my expectations were far off from what I would experience as a working Physical Therapist. Don't get me wrong I loved my boss and I had a good relationship with my co-workers. What was really difficult for me was learning the following:
1. You can not help someone who doesn't want to help themselves.
2. Our practice is often being dictated by people sitting in the office of an insurance company with no medical background.
3. The majority of people undervalue the amount of education and expertise that one must obtain to become a Physical Therapist.
As most PT's do, I learned to adapt and accept these things as a part of our profession. I put my head down and played by the rules. Along the way I started to lose my drive. The autopilot I was set on to survive the work day was beginning to bleed into my home life. 5 years into practicing and the girl who was once so motivated by helping people was no longer the girl I saw when I looked in the mirror. My husband was even worse than I was. He struggled with depression, anger and anxiety all linked in some way to not fulfilling the passion he once had.
For the sake of our happiness and for our children we had to make a change. That is why we left a comfortable lifestyle with flexible work hours doing home health and started our own practice. Why couldn't we cut out insurance and provide people with high value patient-centered Physical Therapy on our own terms? We are not alone in ditching the Insurance-based business model. Physical Therapists all over the nation are finding themselves in the same position as we are; undervalued and underutilized by the public.
We are making it our priority to reduce the amount of unnecessary surgeries, change the stigma that pain is a part of life and enable as many people as possible to live their most active life.