I believe we have an ineffective culture in the physical therapy world with regards to money. It seems that PTs are supposed to be completely fulfilled from merely dedicating ourselves to the betterment of our patients, with only minimal regard for taking care of our finances. In particular, our educational programs barely gloss over marketing/branding, job interviews emphasize being a part of a “work family” rather than making enough money to provide comfortably for our actual families, and messages on social media promote only patient satisfaction without regard for occupational fulfillment.
Although we certainly do not want to be preoccupied with financial gain, if our profession does not have marketable value to the public then we are in danger of jeopardizing our livelihood and our existence. For this reason, I believe the recent focus on active interventions is particularly troublesome. This includes the idea that “optimizing movement” will measurably “improve the human experience”.1 Clinicians and researchers are pushing so hard to empower patients that they are 1) forgetting that passive and active interventions together provide optimal results, and 2) they are hurting the profession’s bottom-line by de-emphasizing its importance. In particular, if our profession continues to promote the idea that patients do not need us, they will certainly go elsewhere to receive the skilled interventions they cannot provide for themselves.
Part of the purpose of the Institute of Manual and Manipulative Therapy is to provide marketable skills for the practitioner’s financial fulfillment. This could include the ability to open a lucrative cash-based practice but could also mean improved empirical outcomes for future performance-based insurance models. I believe our culture needs a shift to better balance patient improvement and the practitioner’s well-being.
1. APTA. APTA and you. https://www.apta.org/apta-and-you. Accessed 11/14/2020.