As a newly hired physical therapist, expect to be challenged as you put your academic knowledge into clinical practice. You’ll need to quickly get up to speed on the documentation, equipment, and preferred treatment methods used at your new workplace. Lean on your colleagues and take advantage of any formal onboarding, mentorship, and continuing education opportunities. Be ready to develop customized exercise programs, educate patients, and track progress. With hard work and dedication, you’ll gain competence and confidence in assessing patients, planning interventions, and helping people overcome mobility limitations or pain to improve function.
So, if you have a new job in physical therapy or just need a new mindset, use the following tips to excel in your physical therapy career.
Build Strong Relationships with Patients
Building trust with your patients is the foundation of being an excellent physical therapist. Make an effort to get to know them as individuals. Show empathy when they share difficulties and celebrate successes with them. This will help motivate patients to keep working hard in therapy sessions.
Spend time listening to patients’ concerns and answering their questions thoroughly. Doing so will help put them at ease. Check in regularly to see how they are feeling about their progress. Your attentiveness will help strengthen the therapist-patient bond.
Stay Up to Date on the Latest Techniques and Research
The field of physical therapy is constantly evolving as new research emerges. Make it a priority to keep your skills sharp and expand your expertise. Read physical therapy journals and take continuing education courses annually. Attend conferences when possible to hear lectures from leaders in the field.
This will ensure you use the most up-to-date evidence-based techniques with your patients. It will also make you a valuable resource to fellow physical therapists in your network.
Collaborate with Other Members of the Healthcare Team
Maintaining open communication with other healthcare professionals involved in caring for your patients is key. Consult with physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, and more to get their perspectives and share your insights from therapy sessions.
Schedule care conferences with the healthcare team to align on patient goals and customize treatment plans. Being proactive about collaboration will result in the best care for your patients. It will also demonstrate your reliability as a professional.
Stay Organized and Efficient
Physical therapists have demanding schedules filled with patient appointments throughout the day. On top of that, you need to find time for administrative tasks like documentation. Be intentional about organization to avoid falling behind. Keep patient files orderly and your schedule up to date. Set reminders to complete progress notes and billing paperwork promptly after sessions.
Maximize productivity during downtime in your schedule. Use those minutes to catch up on charts or research new therapy techniques. Finding a rhythm will help you be efficient. Also, work collaboratively with occupational therapists, assistants, and other staff to make the best use of everyone’s time. Communicate upfront about patient needs and responsibilities.
At the end of each day, tidy up equipment and treatment areas. Review the next day’s schedule and prep materials you’ll need. Look for opportunities to streamline repetitive tasks. For example, create templates for exercises or documentation. Invest time upfront in organization to benefit your long-term productivity and clinical skills. Efficiency enables you to deliver the best care for each patient while avoiding burnout.
Being an exceptional physical therapist requires dedication and care. Use these tips to help you excel. The progress your patients make will be incredibly rewarding.