The Life of a New Grad Physical Therapist

The Adventure Continues…




I’ve completed my first full week as a licensed PT.  Well, sort of.  I had to do some online training for our EMR so I got to stay home on Tuesday and spend 7 hours on a conference call doing that…but still…I’m pretty sure I got paid for it.

The week did not start off all that well.  I had to finish a few evals over the weekend because it was the end of the month and they had to submit the billing or whatever.  So I was crazy stressed out about that since I didn’t really know how to use the EMR that well.  Plus, it was my birthday and I was really hoping to not have to think about work.  I had a Medicare patient coming in on Monday who I hadn’t done any tests to assess anything related to balance because I was told he was coming in for his shoulders.  He told me he was most concerned about his balance but we were waiting for the referral to get faxed over and the front office had told me it was his shoulders.  His English was very minimal too and I don’t know Chinese.  I had gotten the referral before I left on Friday saying that he was coming for both shoulders AND gait instability.  Great.  So I was all stressed out that I was going to get into trouble about that.  I had a few more evals on Monday too, so I knew that I was just going to be overwhelmed with more paperwork.  Basically, I just felt awful.

So it is Sunday night and I’m standing in the kitchen sobbing.  Like end of the world sobbing.  My boyfriend is totally at a loss for words because he can’t imagine what could be all that bad.  Despite him telling me that it is all going to work out, I just can’t seem to pull it together.  I just wanted to hide under my blankets and wake up the next morning a kid again.  Why is adulting this hard?!

This isn’t new for me.  I tend to build things up to be WAAAAY bigger than they actually are.  You’d think knowing this about myself would prevent this from happening but it doesn’t.  I had always wondered why I had had panic attacks before PT school but I’m starting to see why.  That was a HUGE step and so the amount of building it up was increased a bazillion-fold.  Starting a new job….I’d say that’s a pretty big life event, too!

So here I was crying.  I was sort of relieved that I was because I spent Wednesday-Friday of the week before driving to work feeling like I was on the verge of tears but holding them in so I didn’t look like a mess by the time I got in.  I’d then come home and be so tired I felt no urge to cry.  I was thankful to finally be letting it all out.

I woke up Monday morning still feeling like crap but I sucked it up and pushed forward.  I got to work and, sure enough, nothing was as bad as it had seemed.  Basically everything I had been stressing out about ended up not being a big deal.  And, after talking to one of my co-workers, I found out that I’m not the only one to have felt like this.  Apparently she had cried every day for a week or so when she first started.  She had even admitted to searching for a new job during the first 3 weeks of her employment.  But she said she feels a lot better now and that she really enjoys working where we are at.

Anyway, the whole point in writing all of this is for my fellow stresser-outers out there.  YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES!  It’s okay to feel overwhelmed but you’ll get the hang of it.  And trust me (someone who constantly doubts that it’ll all work out)…IT WILL BE OKAY.  Keep your chin up and move forward.  You can do this.

Still Learning

I’m going to try to post something each week about something I’ve learned, or something that might be useful for other new grads, or maybe just something I found interesting or worth remembering in the future (i.e. funny stories).  This week I want to focus on something I’ve been learning about online!

I went a little crazy during my down time while looking for a job.  I was looking up all kinds of things and following all kinds of people/groups related to PT in hopes that I would continue to grow as a therapist.  I think I’ve completed 32.5 CEUs on Medbridge already (which I will talk about that in another post).  Anyway, I feel this crazy amount of stress as a new grad to keep pushing myself.  I understand that I’m new and it kills me to think that there might be something out there for my patients that I haven’t learned about yet that they could benefit from.  It absolutely drives me insane.  This is the reason I’ve been frantically looking for any guidance from more established PTs who share some of their stuff online.

Ultimately, I found Dr. Erson Religioso’s website: Modern Manual Therapist.  Now, I had to pay $5/month for it, but it’s totally worth it.  I’ve learned so much and I’ve applied what I’ve learned to one of my patients.  That patient felt better immediately which almost blew my mind, but I was trying to look as if I was expecting that outcome vs being completely surprised like she was.  I’d go into detail but I’m so freaking tired at this point…maybe another time.  Anyway, I’ve pretty much decided that Dr. E is my PT idol!

Too Much Paperwork and Other Things!

I started my job this Wednesday.  It was a little weird starting in the middle of the week and part of me had wished I was starting next week, but I’m now a little thankful I started this week.

I’ve pretty much been doing nothing but paperwork and evals.  I’m working for a rather large outpatient ortho company, and they have me jumping through all kinds of hoops.  I’ve had to fill out all kinds of things.  I’m beginning to think I’ve somehow signed my life away, or maybe my first born child, to the company.  But at this point, I’m so tired I don’t care!

And I would have thought I’d be done with everything by the weekend.  Nope!  I still have some Onboarding tasks to do for the company, I have to do some conference call orientation from 6 am to 2 pm on Tuesday annnd…I don’t know what else.  I keep getting email after email after email with new things I have to do.  It’s insane.

What makes this even more incredibly stressful is the fact that I have to get used to the EMR the clinic uses.  So I went from documenting paper evals crazy fast (i.e. I had them mostly done by the time the patient left) to me taking an eternity.  I saw 6 evals this week.  I’ve signed off on 1 of them so far.  I’m mostly done with 2 of them so that’s good.  And I have 3 new evals on Monday…I just feel like I keep getting hit with wave after wave.

Anyway, the summary of all of this is….I have waaaaay too much to do, I feel waaaaay in over my head (and it’s not even because of working with patients) and I would love to just grab my cat and go hide under my blankets (but my cat would claw my eyes out).

Overall, I think I’ll like where I’m at once I get all this newcomer stuff done.  Bleh.


I Have a Full-Time Job!!!

As of today, I officially have a full time job.  I got the call from the clinic that I interviewed with last Thursday (the clinic I really wanted to get an offer from) offering me a job!! I, of course, accepted it and will be starting sometime in the next week or two!!!  And I’ll just say that she said she loved my interview and that all my references could not have said nicer things about me… I’m feeling a lot better in the personality department! 🙂

The Unprofessional Interview

Let me tell you about the interview that DID NOT go so well…

I was fortunate to find a post on Facebook about a job opening near me.  I asked about it and got the contact information for the clinic director.  I set up an interview for Monday (yesterday).  I was not all that excited about the interview.  I was so happy with my interview from Thursday and was pretty much 100% convinced that if I got an offer there I would take it.  Only problem was that I didn’t know if I would hear back and get the job.  I had to continue interviewing just in case.

I got to the clinic and arrived 10 minutes early.  I had been arriving 15 minutes early to other clinics but was finding that I ended up waiting almost the full 15 minutes because the person was out at lunch.  There was also the possibility that the PT would be with a patient so I felt like 10 minutes early was the most appropriate without making anyone feel rushed.

I met my interviewer and could tell very quickly that this was going to be another legitimate interview.  She seemed very serious and straight to the point.  I am not going to lie, I was very much caught off guard by just how serious she was.  So for the first time I started feeling very nervous.  I bumbled a bit following some questions.  The interviewer was not incredibly talkative so I felt a little awkward and would fill the silence with things like, “that’s awesome”.  I was thrown by some questions I had not been asked before which gave me a better idea of how to prepare for next time.   I did not think I did that great at all, but I didn’t think it was horrible.  Still, though, I walked away knowing I was not going to get the job.  And I was okay with that.  I want to be in a very positive, fun environment for patients and PTs and I did not get that feeling from this clinic.

Fast forward to this morning.  I am about to head into the clinic that I’m doing per diem at.  It’s 7:50 am and I decide to check my email.  The clinic opens at 8 am but nobody shows up to let me in until right at 8 (which is frustrating because I’d be there 30 min early if I could!). I notice I have gotten a message from the place I had interviewed at yesterday.  I was told at the end of my interview that she still had a few more people to interview and that she would contact me by the end of the week.  The fact that I was receiving an email the very next morning pretty much indicated to me that I would not be getting the job.  Okay, let’s just open the email and cross it off my list and move on…easy enough…

Nope.  I got a pretty long email that started off completely okay.  Basically, she had found another candidate and wanted to go with that person.  Okay, makes sense.  But following that very small paragraph was a rather long paragraph about how I was not dressed professionally (I was wearing a pair of nice slacks, appropriate flats, and a nice blouse…basically what I’ve been wearing to every interview) and I did not speak professionally.  She did not like my goals….actually, she really didn’t seem to like much about what I said or did.  I started crying.  I knew it wasn’t a great interview.  I didn’t expect to get the job.  I understood she was trying to give constructive feedback.  But unprofessional?! I was so mortified by the fact that I could ever come off as unprofessional.  Nervous, yes.  But unprofessional!  I felt horrible and embarrassed that I came off that way.  I also felt like I was going to be one of those people that employers end up telling everyone about…”Yea, and this girl came in wearing a blouse instead of suit….and she said ‘awesome’…and had dumb goals.”  Ugh.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m taking all of the advice to heart.  I just wish she had at least thrown in ONE positive thing about me rather than a whole list of negative things.  I do tend to be very hard on myself as it is, so I knew that this was going to be rough on me.

I had to pull myself together.  I had a patient scheduled in 5 minutes.  So I got out of my car and tried to shrug it off.  Still, though, I was bothered with thoughts of “well…am I good enough to be a PT?!” and “do I come off as unprofessional with my patients?  Has my approach been all wrong.  Everyone seems to have a good time in therapy.  What if I’m this unprofessional person and I don’t even know it?!”  And all of a sudden, I felt like the girl on the Bachelor (yes, I watch the Bachelor).  The girl that left the mansion because being surrounded by all these other women with bright personalities made her question her own.  Is my personality okay?  Do I overdo it sometimes?

I got into the clinic and started seeing patients.  After seeing a few of them, I was able to shake off the bad thoughts and just focus on myself and my patients.  And there were little blips of encouragement in the day that let me know that I am on the right track.  For instance, my patient with spondylolisthesis (who has been in pain for 6 months and had seen 2 other PTs at 2 different clinics…for 14 visits and who was told that he is a candidate for surgery) is feeling the best he has felt these last 6 months.  He told me I’ve done more for him than any other PT had and thanked me for it.  I did that.  And it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

And then I got the call….





An Update on My Latest Interviews!

Yes…interviews…plural!   I actually got a call to do an interview while I was in an interview for another clinic.  It was a nice to finish an interview and get back to my car to see that lovely surprise!

I have, currently, done 4 interviews, two of which I already about and the other two (which I did yesterday and today) that I will update you on now!


Interview #3

Another Craigslist post! I went in to do the interview yesterday.  It’s pretty close to where I live (just 10 minutes!) so I was happy to be finding a place a little closer to me.  The place looked okay from the outside.  I got into the clinic and had a seat to wait for my interviewer.  As I sat waiting, I overheard a couple of patients talking.  I was getting the vibe that this was more of a chronic pain type of a clinic.  Now I’m not opposed to working with chronic pain patients, but as a new grad, I was hoping to not have that be my focus.  Chronic pain patients take a little longer in their recovery and I would like to feel like I’m getting results with more acute patients before focusing more on chronic pain.

I got called in to do the interview.  It felt more like an interview than my previous two “interviews” but I still felt that it was lacking.  I felt like I had so much more to share about myself and my experiences but the interviewer was not really asking me questions that opened up the door for me to share.  She also informed me that it was not, in fact, a full-time position and that they had worked out a deal with a completely different clinic that had no connection to them whatsoever, to share whoever they hire.  I’ve never heard of anything like this.  Basically, two days of the week I would be with clinic A and the other 3 days I would be with clinic B.  She said that if room opened up for full-time at either clinic, the two clinics would discuss it.  Part of me felt it seemed a little odd and the other part of me felt that at least I had a foot in two doors should a full-time position arise at either clinic.

Eventually, she called in the chiropractor of the place  to have him show me around  (this is a clinic that has an array of healthcare providers that work together…MDs, chiropractors, PTs).  The chiro walked me around and I waved at people as we walked by.  We eventually got to the PT part of the building.  Woah! This was the complete opposite of the first two places I interviewed at.  This place was jam-packed with just about every machine you could dream of.  I’m not sure I could even tell you the function of half of the machines there!  Now, I hate to be a Goldilocks…but this was machine overload.  Yea, I know…first two clinics were a little measly, now this was a little too much.  And I’m not exactly in the position to be choosy!

I really liked the chiropractor.  He was super friendly and gave me a lot of hope that it would be a fun place to work at.  Yet again, though, I was going to be the only therapist.  Another PT came in on different days.  Now there are some pros to being the only PT, but I feel like, at this stage of my career, it’s better for me to at least have SOMEBODY to bounce ideas off of when I’m feeling stuck.

I left the interview thinking it went pretty well but also feeling like they didn’t have much to go by since I was asked so little.  Ultimately, my overall impression was that the place was just okay.  It wasn’t anything I would get super excited about but it wasn’t a complete “no” like the other clinic.  And yes, I still need to do an interview with the other clinic that would be part of this deal.  So I guess I’ll hold off on any judgment until I talk to them.

After this interview, though, I was thinking I would rather take a full-time position at my per diem clinic before this one. And that is apparently turning into quite the possibility…but I will get into that another time.


Interview #4

You guessed it…another Craigslist post!  Actually, I had sent a resume to this clinic before but I think there was some kind of mix-up.  I had applied through their website before and heard nothing.  I then sent a resume through Craigslist (not knowing it was the same clinic because it didn’t say) and they responded.  I got the call yesterday after I finished my other interview.  The therapist sounded pretty stern and not exactly like the happy person I’d like to work alongside.

Anyway, I went into today with the mindset of this interview being more for the experience and not to worry about getting hired for a job.  Reason being is that I had worked for this same company before (in another location) as an aide.  I remember, as an aide, thinking that I would not want to work there as a PT because the patients hardly spent any time with the therapists.  But every clinic is different, so why not give it a shot?  And why be nervous?  I had pretty much ruled this clinic out entirely anyway.

Long story short, I was very wrong to rule this clinic out.  This was my first interview that I had left a very happy person.  This is for a number of reasons.  First, the clinic was beautiful.  It was spacious, clean, with private rooms to use if needed, and just the right amount of equipment.  Secondly,  there are other therapists that work there! Woohoo! Thirdly, it was a legitimate interview!!! I got asked all kinds of questions.  It was wonderful.  I got to talk about my past experiences, my strengths and weaknesses, etc.  I loved it.  And I had great follow-up questions! Fourthly (yes, fourthly is a word…I didn’t know anything beyond thirdly existed), I was wrong about the therapist interviewing me.  She was a little more serious but she was very easy to talk to as well.  I really enjoyed getting to interview with her.  Fifthly, it is FULL-TIME….with BENEFITS….and they would be interested in giving me later hours which means I could start at 9 am!! I am not a morning person so this…this is awesome.  Sixthly (okay, now WordPress is telling me this isn’t a word but the online dictionary is telling me otherwise), it is close to me! It is only a 13 minute drive.  Hooray!

I had such a great interview.  I was able to show my personality but also show what I can bring to the table.  She seemed very interested in my workers comp experiences and she loved my ability to be flexible with my schedule (i.e. being able to juggle patients during an eval). And she also liked that I swing dance.  She told me that she wants the clinic to have a fun, positive atmosphere and said she could tell I had a lot personality for it.

So, I think it went really well but I’m not going to count my full-time physical therapy positions before they hatch.  I have already sent out another resume to another clinic from the same company that is also local so I’m keeping myself in it.  Hopefully, I hear back from the place I interviewed at today!!!


I will keep you updated!!



All By Myself

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working per diem at a small PT clinic.  I found the position through Craigslist and was pretty much asked to take the position without really being interviewed.  They were desperate to fill the spot of their PT who was going to be leaving on vacation during the holidays.  The position had the potential to go from per-diem to part-time to full-time.  They were currently at a point where they had too many patients for one PT, but just not quite enough for two.  Either way, I saw this as an opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I was anxious to get working and start making money.  Not only that, but I was feeling my PT powers slipping away since I hadn’t worked with patients since August.  I was happy to take the position, but nervous too.  And then my boyfriend asked me this…”So…do you feel ready to be the ONLY physical therapist at the clinic?” Hold up.  I really had not given that much thought.  I really was going to be the only PT at the clinic.  I was going from a PT student to THE ONLY PT at the clinic.  Ummm…was I ready for this? I mean, everybody says you should look to have a mentor in the beginning or, at the very least, have other PTs at the clinic.  Not only that, BUT there was a PTA student at the clinic who I was going to be responsible for while the other PT was gone.  So let’s get this straight…in August, I was a PT student…you know, with a clinical instructor and everything.  Fast-forward to December…I’m now a physical therapist, with no CI…no mentor…nothing….and now I am in charge of a student…a PTA student.  How quickly things had changed.

Week #1

The PTA student was expected to see a full caseload and the other PT was not taking any patients during this time anyway so I went in thinking that the PTA student would just do her thing and I would make sure it was going well while hopefully not being too bored.  No.  I had 3 evals that first day.  I had 4 evals (in 4.5 hours) on Tuesday, and another 4 evals on Wednesday.  In the 2.5 days I worked, I had had 11 evals.  So basically I got the hang of doing evals again rather quickly.

The PTA student was great.  She was on her 3rd rotation and she really didn’t require me for much of anything.  I did have to sign off on all her daily notes….wait, wasn’t I just having to have my stuff signed off on?!?! Anyway, I didn’t really have to have a full schedule while the PTA student was there.

Week #2

The PTA student had this week off, so it was just me and the PT aide…who is awesome! Anyway, I definitely got my fair share of a caseload.  I think the most I had seen at a clinic beforehand was 12 (although I was scheduled for 14…but people cancelled) but this week I saw 15.

I was very fortunate to have the aide there who was always right there to help set things up for me and prep tables and everything.  Not only that, but we got along so well which made it an enjoyable environment to be in. By the end of the 3-day week, she told me she was actually sad that I wouldn’t be working full time because she had so much fun 🙂


Currently, I’m only working Tuesdays, although I might also get Thursdays now.  The owner of the clinic was hoping to convince the other PT to work at his other job on Thursdays so I could take that slot but I haven’t heard if that has been arranged.

Would I like to be there full-time?  It’s hard to say.  It is a very tiny clinic, but I do like that it’s more personal.  I think it would ultimately be in my best interest to have another PT around, even if they weren’t going to mentor me or anything.  That being said, these couple of weeks of being the only PT has actually been a great big help to me.  When I was a student doing an eval, I would frequently swing by my CI and check in with him to see if I was on the right track.  If he was in a meeting, I would just do my thing and not worry.  You see, I was fine if I didn’t have anyone right there to ask, but as soon as my CI was in the room, I felt the need to check in with him.

I almost think being the only PT has built my confidence and made me see that I CAN do this and that I don’t need to check-in with anybody.  I’ve also really enjoyed getting to figure it out on my own and see what my own personal style is as a PT.  When you are a student, you just try to mesh with whatever your CI does, but now I’m my own therapist and I’ve really enjoyed figuring out what kind of therapist I am.   Because of this, I feel even more prepared to tackle an interview and explain why, even as a new grad, I’m qualified for the position.

The ultimate goal is to have a full-time job, and if I get offered that somewhere else, I’m going to take it.  But until then, I’m going to make the most of this exciting experience 🙂


Job Interview Next Week!

I sent in my resume to another clinic last night! This is another Craigslist posting so we will see how this goes.  Fortunately, unlike the other 2 clinics, they at least have a website that I can check out.  Even better….they are looking for a full-time/part-time PT AND it’s 10 minutes from my apartment.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I like the place and they like me!

I’ll be posting about the interview next week!

Jobs and Interviews Thus Far

Well I’m not doing too stellar on the jobs and interviews at the moment.   I’m bound and determined to work in outpatient ortho and it’s not exactly easy where I live.  The places that I have found that are looking to hire have specifically asked for 2-3+ years of experience and some have even flat out stated on their requirements that they do not want new grads.  You know, with so many people rejecting new grads, I wonder if I’ll ever get a job so that I can work enough to not be considered a new grad!

Where have I been looking?  I’ve been using Indeed and Craigslist…which, if you knew me, you’d know is pretty bold of me considering I watch a lot of Lifetime movies and one is called the Craigslist Killer…just sayin. Anyway, I found that Indeed had better opportunities than, say, Monster.  And Craigslist seems to be where the OP Ortho is at.  That being said, it is a little unsettling to send out your resume to a random person you don’t know (if they don’t mention their clinic name).

So far I have sent out 5 resumes.  I have not heard back from 3 people (1 of which I sent out recently so I’m not considering it a complete failure yet).  I did hear back from 2 and had very interesting “interviews”.  I call them “interviews” because they were not exactly the most legitimate interviews, but they were something.

“Interview” #1

Found this on Craigslist.  It had been posted 2 weeks before I sent my resume in but thought it was worth a shot.  They needed a per diem PT to fill in for a PT who was leaving for vacation a week or 2 after my interview.  So basically, they needed someone ASAP, and since they were so quick to respond to me even after their post had been up for 2 weeks, I figured I didn’t really have much competition.

The owner of the clinic called me and asked if I would be able to work the days this PT was going to be out of town.  I said that that was fine.  She said that, if I wanted, I could come stop by the clinic and check it out and that again, if I wanted, we could do an interview.  What?? So basically, I pretty much had the job.  See what I mean by getting desperate!?

I went to visit the clinic.  It was definitely small but it was fine.  They had what I needed to work with patients and I’m not one to be all about those super, beefed up clinics.  I am pretty fond of a smaller, more personal setting.

I got brought back to do the “interview” which really was not much of an interview.  What are my strengths and weakness? Nope, wasn’t asked that.  What kinds of patients have I worked with in my clinical rotations? Nope, wasn’t asked that either.  I had a pulse, I was eager, and they were desperate to have someone fill in when the PT went on vacation.  So I got the per diem position!


“Interview” #2

I found another place on Craigslist to apply to and sent in my application a few days after accepting the per diem position at the other clinic.  I heard back from them immediately and got scheduled to have an interview.  I was nervous because this seemed like it was going to be more of an actual interview compared to the other one.

I pulled up to the place early and inspected the neighboring area.  Not the best neighborhood but it wasn’t horrible.  There was high school or middle school nearby.  It definitely wasn’t the kind of place you’d want to leave anything valuable sitting in the front seat of your car.  But I didn’t feel like I was in the ghetto either.

I walked into the clinic and it looked pretty run down.  The woman doing the interview brought me into a little examination room with a sad little curtain to cover the doorway.  She maybe asked me a couple of questions, but none of which were really assessing my capabilities as a PT.  If anything, I asked her more questions.  I won’t get into super detail, but after ME interviewing HER, I walked away feeling pretty confident that they had to be committing Medicare fraud.  Not only that, but I was going to be the ONLY PT there and the majority of the patients there knew little English (and I’m not saying they were Spanish speakers…I can at least do a semi-decent job at that!).  I guess the receptionist could help interpret, but I really want to work somewhere where I don’t have to have a middleman to communicate with my patients.  That, and I love my license…it’s a beautiful license…I’m not getting it taken away because of some sketchy place.

In a way, it was kind of nice to walk away from a place and have a strong feeling about NOT working there.  As a new grad, you kinda want to take whatever you can get so you can at least get experience for somewhere else, but I was proud of myself for not stooping to THAT level…even if the pay was far above what I’m sure any place will offer me elsewhere.

Unfortunately, I was not prepared for what to do if I’m in an interview where I know for sure I don’t want to work there so I ended up leaving without saying I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t want to be mean.  I ended up calling back a few days later to let them know that I was not going to accept the job.  They raised their offer because “they just really liked my personality” (which is great…but that’s really all they had to judge me by since we didn’t really talk about PT) and I still rejected.  Please, whatever you do, do not take a job for the sake of having a job or because it pays great money if you feel that it’s sketchy!

The site is still actually posting on Craigslist about the open position (which they hoped to have it filled by the start of the year).  So I think I was the only schmuck that probably went in to interview.  That, or there are some other people out there who also knew better than to take the position.


So right now I am still working per diem at the first place.  The other PT has come back but they are trying to convince him to go work at his other job on Tues/Thurs so that I can work those days.  I’m not sure if that’s maybe because they don’t want to have a full-time PT due to benefits or if it’s because they like me that much that they are trying to make room for me.  Either way, it’s a job! In the meantime, I’m still hoping to find full-time position, or at least another part-time one to fill in the gaps.  It’s not easy!

I’ll be updating you all on how the per diem position is going in the next couple of days! 🙂

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