Author: Dr. Blair Green PT, DPT, OCS, PHC

A few weeks ago, I was at an event and the woman up on stage was talking about how we has physical therapists can do more to help our patients. She went on to categorize business owners v.  “just an employee.”

I know she had no bad intent when she said that and in fact she followed up by saying nobody is just an employee but it got me thinking. Since when did owning your own business become the gold standard for every physical therapist and working for someone else become so looked down upon?

Look, I know the healthcare industry has its flaws. Productivity requirements and poor reimbursement are leading to provider burnout. It’s no wonder people are running to rent a room with a treatment table and set up shop on their own. Profit margins may be higher but that comes with a trade off.

As someone who has worked in many practice settings, I’ve seen it all. From employee / staff PT to manager, in network, cash, concierge, solo practitioner and practice owner with my own staff. While I continue to advocate for a “lifestyle by design,” the reality is that for many of us, being in business alone is not necessarily better. Additionally, working for someone else does not classify you as “just an employee.”

Why would you want to work for someone else when you can be your own boss? Let’s start with connection. People are hard-wired for connection. Successful teams make successful businesses. Having people to talk to outside of patients may be the thing that makes you smile in what would otherwise perhaps be a bad day. Many of us go into physical therapy because we like to be around others. That reason alone should be enough to want to seek employment.

Next, collaboration. When you are working with others, both formal and informal learning can take place. Even the most talented, experienced PTs can still learn. I remember early in my career, when I was a sponge soaking it all up, my manager told me he actually was learning from me too. Sometimes these things happen spontaneously, because an interesting patient walked in, or somebody read a particular article or post.

Finally, consider that you may not want to take on all the risk and responsibility for a practice. When I signed up to start a practice I knew exactly the risks involved. I also knew there was a steep learning curve to grow with success. So many of us believe that it can be as simple as renting a room and taking notes on Google. And while this certainly is the case for many, that can quickly turn sour, or grow beyond proportions to where you are now trying to merge manager and clinician (which was never the goal, right? You just wanted to treat patients without a hassle).

For some of you, owning a business is the end goal, the big pie in the sky, and that’s fantastic. For others, it’s more about escaping a toxic environment or an in-network patient factory. Whatever your reason, I encourage you to consider taking on a role as a clinic employee. In the right culture and environment you could thrive. Work the hours you desire, earn a respectable income, continue your education, be a part of a healthy team and grow beyond your dreams.

Looking to join a team that promotes these qualities I mentioned? We are always looking for clinicians to work with us at Catalyst Physical Therapy. Contact us here to learn more about our unique office culture.