What is Physical Therapy School NOT Teaching You?

So before dive into this blog post, this is not to bash any Physical Therapy (PT) schools or PT schools in general. This is just where we are at currently with our profession and our education system. I truly believe we are continually improving in both, but not quick enough. PT school has its place to make sure we are safe so we don’t come out hurting our patients and also, to pass that thing at the end of our curriculum… the NPTE or something. There’s only so much they can squeeze in the 3 years of school. Should some of the content that I talk about today be implemented in ALL schools or should we get the information elsewhere?

So, what is PT school not teaching you?…

1. How to interview the employer

I feel like we are well prepared to go into interviews to answer what THEY ask US. But what about the other way around? You went through all this education. You should find a job that fits you and know if this is the best environment for you. Especially when you are about to be there for 40+ hours a week for however many years.

Is this a place that’s going to help you grow? Oh wait, my professors told me to make sure I find mentorship when I graduate. But how is that set up? Will it just be meeting with a PT once week for the first month, and just talk to me whenever because this clinic is too busy? Or is it more structured for true growth? Where does the company envision themselves in 6, 12, 18,24 months? If they are content with being where they are now, is this a place for you to further yourself? Don’t settle for the first job offer that you get.

Interview them as much as they are interviewing you.


2. How to make money as a PT outside a 9-5

You can become a consultant for EMR companies, products, apps, software, and also market for other private practices.

You can become an online fitness/wellness coach during PT school and implement that in your clinic as passive income.

Become an affiliate for products and courses.

(Continue to end to find out how)


3. How to negotiate

I continually heard when we were about to graduate and started applying for jobs that we should negotiate our salaries. But how? Tell them what sets you apart from the rest of your classmates and those in the area that are graduating the same time as you. We are all graduating with doctorate degrees now. That means nothing to employers. Well, tell them you’ll help with marketing for them on the down time. That sounds like a great response!… But wait, how do I market? See the next section. 

I get tired of hearing from colleagues when employers tell them something along the lines of, “Well this is the average around the area for a new grad. Take it or I’ll offer the next guy/gal the same and they’ll take it“. We don’t get taught how to negotiate or to be comfortable talking about money at the job. We get scared that if they don’t take that offer, that you’ll never get a job. I felt like many professors danced around this topic. How do we negotiate when we don’t understand how the business side works? How much do you bring into the clinic each year? How much percentage of that should go to me, and how much should go to overhead/business owner? What is realistic for a clinic that has PTs only? What about if they have PTAs and techs? How much should you make for seeing 1.5 pts/hr, 2 pts/hr, etc? If you don’t know the business side, how will you be an educated negotiator?

Ben Fung from UpDoc Media does a great job talking about salaries, negotiating, and regularly releases the average salary for your area/setting/experience. The more educated we ALL are on salary negotiation the higher salary average for our profession.

(More answers to come)


4. How to market

First of all, we need to learn how to just market our profession. How many times do you hear a patient, heck even your friends and family say, “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that!“, “You have to go to school that long?”, “You know so much!“, “Oh, I thought I was just getting a massage?“, “So you’re not just a personal trainer?” etc. We do a poor job of promoting our profession. Everyone knows what a physician, optometrist, dentist, personal trainer, massage therapist and chiropractor does. How can we get more patients to come to us when they don’t even know what they do. Heck, even health care providers don’t know what we do.

I feel like the topic was brought up enough in PT school and on clinicals to help the company you are at with marketing. But never HOW to. We need to learn how to market to get patients to trust us in our care, but the 2017 way, not how they did it in 2007.


5. How to survive as a PT Practice without relying SOLELY on MD referrals

Wait, what? That’s a thing? How else do you get patients for your practice? MARKETING– See ABOVE. We are a doctorate profession now. I think it’s time to claim it. We want the respect and autonomy of the title of being a DOCTOR of Physical Therapy, but still send goodie bags, buy lunches, and essentially beg physicians for patients. Even if we put our efforts here, many hospital systems and POPTS don’t even allow you to talk to their physicians anymore. Many of them have contracts with your local high schools as well. Some clinics have 90% of the caseload relying on the same 2-3 physicians.  What happens when one bad incident occurs and you lose that referral source? What happens to your clinic when the other physician moves?

Other health care providers don’t SOLEY rely on them. It’s okay to have good relationships with them, and have a two way street of referrals. I think it’s time that we educate the public on what a physical therapist does and have them come to us FIRST. We know how much it saves patients money if they come to us before the MD. All states have some sort of direct access so let’s get out there and get them into our clinics.

6. How to start your own practice/business side of PT

Chiropractors are taught how to open a practice while they are in school and learn basic business foundations. (Someone can fact check me, I might be wrong, but the point is still there). NOW, this is not meant to have any turf battle or profession shaming, but many of y’all ARE worried about chiros are doing. They are a doctorate profession as well and are ahead of the game to learn this before entering the real world.

In my opinion, business NEEDS to be implemented in PT school. I know not everyone wants to be a private practice owner, but some do. Not everyone wants to do neuro, peds, acute care, ortho, etc, but we have a course to introduce them to the options out there. How can you make a decision if the option isn’t on the table? Contrary to popular belief, people do open up practices right out of school. This might shock you, but people CAN open up CASH based/out-of-network practices when the graduate. Check out Aaron Lebauer. I often hear, “wait FIVE years before you open up your own practice”. Why five? Why not three or seven? Is that the magic number? You can have every certification and take every CEU out there, but will you be better equipped to learn the billing, marketing, staff training, patient acquisition all of a sudden at that five-year mark?

Even if we don’t open a practice, this makes us more educated to understand how to negotiate salary and get a grasp on the business side to not be upset at our employers/owners for why they make certain decisions. I only see it as a win for our whole profession.


The question is still up in the air if this should be implemented into PT schools and if so, how? Now I am just not writing this to complain. I have a solution….

I have learned all of the above in an 8-week interactive (online) course. If you are interested in learning about EVERYTHING I just talked about in this post (and more), Greg Todd offers a course called: Smart Success Physical Therapy (SSPT) [<–click there]. He has the answers to it all- in major detail. I have learned much more than I would have imagined and paid for. Your money will easily come back 10 fold. This course opened my mind up to options that I didn’t even know were out there. Next season/course starts up in June of 2017. Pre-register now and level up! This is beneficial for new grad PTs, SPTs, if you just got accepted into PT school, 20+ years out, private practice owners, and even foreign trained physios! I can stop now.

This course is NOT for everyone. If you are a 9-5 PT and are happy with where you are, then I advise you to not spend your money here. If you have the desire to do more with your career, learn to be an entrepreneur, and push the profession, then I suggest you sign up! Many of you have invested 100k+ in PT school. If you’ve gone that far, might as well take a course that will continue to further yourself financially and professionally. Don’t just settle with investing the minimum requirements every two years for your CEUs.




Message/email me if you have any questions regarding this course. Here is the link again.

Dr. Andrew Tran


Growing as a New Grad PT from Social Media/Technology

I am just over 10 months out as a new grad physical therapist and I’ve learned a lot outside the normal avenues that we are taught in PT school (textbooks, articles, classroom). This blog post is not about any new techniques, the latest article I’ve read, or continuing education course that I have taken, but how to utilize technology/social to further yourself as a PT student, new graduate, or a seasoned clinician. Maybe I’m just late to the game and others have utilized social media and technology already and I’m just talking to a wall, but for the others, hopefully, this is beneficial.

1. First of all, if you haven’t already, I think you should join the Doctor of Physical Therapy Students Facebook group or Physical Therapy: Practice, Education, and Networking. I think this is where it all started for me seeing who the “game changers” are in PT who are trying to move our profession forward. I saw who had a good social media presence. I continually saw the same handful of clinicians post meaningful content, comment with constructive criticism, and had many people tag them in posts for their input. The key is they are CONSISTENT. After awhile I had started to follow these guys and gals on their business/personal FB pages along with twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and yes even Snapchat. I won’t throw out any names just yet. But go find PTs who interest you (neuro, ortho, acute, peds, entrepreneurs, private practice owners, etc), who are making an impact in our profession and see if you can learn a couple things from them. Anyone of them that I have reached out to has been very helpful and very responsive. I got a chance to meet the majority of those that I followed at this year’s CSM. They are just as friendly in person and are very real.

2. After following the people that interest you, you will learn that they have a lot to offer. Many have their own website and offer A LOT of great information that is FREE, and many offer even more valuable content for a cost. THIS is where the good PTs are separated by the great ones. Yeah, it’s cool to get the free information that everyone else has access to, but if you think the free information is great, imagine what those people are willing to offer when you pay for a product! They all might not offer CEUs, but it still offers VALUE. Those who are willing to invest in themselves will be the game changers in our career. I mean…. many of you spent 100k+ on your education. Is that where you stop investing in yourself outside of your minimum CEU credits every two years? Find out what your passion is and see who out there can help you with that to further your career.

3. Another way is to start listening to Podcasts. I didn’t even know what Podcasts really were until a little bit after graduation. So those who are lost like I was, the Google definition of a Podcast is “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.” Basically, someone or group of someones regularly puts out content where they are interviewing someone, or even just giving their own thoughts to whatever subject they offer and you can follow them on this app. I am ADDICTED to podcasts now. I don’t even know what the newest trends of music are because I listen to podcasts everywhere I go in the car. There is an abundance of PTs, fitness professionals, entrepreneurs, and people who work on personal development. I’ll also save the ones a follow for a future blog post. You can subscribe to the ones you like on your phone through your podcast app and they’ll send you the newest episode when it is released. ADVICE: For those of you with limited data, you can download them on wifi at home and play them after they’re downloaded.

The reason why I’ve written this blog is because I have been able to listen and virtually surround myself with some great PTs and even PT students. They’ve helped me level up as a clinician and person. Surround yourself around who you want to be like. If you can’t find that in person, you can do that online by getting the right mentorship, and just listening to wisdom from these podcasts. This is something that I wish I learned in PT school to grow outside of the didactic work. However, I am glad I figured this out early on in my career. Through these avenues, I’ve bought a course where I am not receiving CEUs for, Ebooks from experts in the field that I’m interested, and part of private paid FB groups to get more mentorship to get more one-on-one time with specific questions. I do not regret a dime spent, and would never have been able to do this without putting myself out there to reach out to certain professionals that are willing to help. We live in an age that can connect us all much easier than even a few years ago. Use that to your advantage.

Use technology and social media as a tool, not just for entertainment purposes to scroll through for hours wasting time.

*I’ve refrained from naming anybody (in this post) that I follow or podcasts that I listen to, to not bias anyone, in particular, to have you branch out on your own and see what’s out there.

**Sorry if I’ve kept this too vauge, but if you’re dying to know who has made an impact on me, you are more than welcome to reach out to me.

My First CSM- San Antonio 2017

The reason this post comes a week late, but better late than never. I came back home from San Antonio after an unforgettable first experience at Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) and got deathly ill from the flu. I was unable to leave the house for about 4 days and still currently recovering from a nasty dry cough. Enough of the talk about illness. CSM is the biggest domestic PT conference, with this year breaking 14,000 registrants.

I am a new grad PT (10 months post graduation), and never attended CSM as a student even though it was in Indianapolis my second year of PT school and it was only a two-hour drive away! I don’t know why I didn’t go. I think our school didn’t make it as a big deal as it was, and I thought it was just another random small conference. We had National Student Conclave in Louisville, KY (1.5-hour drive away) my first year of PT school as first-year students, but I think we were way too early in our education to know how to take advantage of it.

With many people attending 3-2 hours lectures each day, learning as much as they can, writing as much as they can, and absorbing the newest research to bring back to their clinic or present to their professors the following week, I decided to approach CSM a different route. (SIDE NOTE: why do PTs make each other sit through passive lectures all day, when we are MOVEMENT PROFESSIONALS?) I flew to San Antonio with one of my buddies in PT school and we were interested in a couple lectures for sure but used this week to increase our network and meet some PTs that we looked up to. I don’t know if I felt nerdier to look at some of these therapists as celebrities due to their following on social media, extensive knowledge, and the impact they’ve had on our professional community. Of course, just like celebrities they are just regular people, took the time to talk to anyone that approached them, and really cared about what people had to say to try to further our PT students and new grads. I started following quite a handful of people on social media, and those who had attended CSM, I made an effort to see them all, and eventually introduced myself to all of them to add that face with the person that has been either creepily following them on one of these platforms, or even talking to them behind our phones computer screens.

Although I reached out to many of the big name PTs out in the field, I also met many motivated students/new grads who were already creating a name for themselves by creating podcasts, websites, planning on starting practices, had great aspirations and going well beyond what PT school expects from you. It was great being surrounded by people who wanted to take things to the next level. It made me seem like I wasn’t doing much, but needed to step things up myself. Some of these people I have never met and some of them were my online friends and family from my Smart Success Physical Therapy (SSPT) course that I am taking with my mentor Greg Todd (GT). If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. Trust me, he won’t be hard to find online, nor will be disappointed in his content. I have learned so much from him and my classmates. It was a different kind of energy when we all met up for dinner to just put a face to each of our names and surrounded by positivity and greatness. I will create a separate post or video in the future about this course and how it has severely changed my mindset on our profession and even just life.

I had a great experience and luckily, I did not need CEUs since I just graduated, I was able to take advantage of not going to courses, but to network and meet some pretty awesome people. I don’t think I really met anyone to ask for anything, but just to get to know them and build a relationship for something in the future where one of us can reach out to one another and further ourselves and our career.

I challenge others who only come for the lectures to step out try to increase their network and create meaningful relationships. You never know where they will go.

Coming for you next year NOLA. I am not sure CSM is ready for it to be held in one of my favorite cities the States has to offer.

P.S. I was able to meet my recruiters that have helped me through travel two contracts with travel PT and my “coworker” who works across the country. I don’t think there are cooler recruiters out there that know how to have more fun than anyone else at conferences.

Aspen Crew.jpg

P.P.S.: I guess one did lock up my consulting gig by putting myself out there.

Andrew Tran, PT, DPT

What is Travel Physical Therapy?


When I tell people I am a travel PT, I often get a confused looks followed by questions from friends, family, and even other PTs SUCH as: what exactly is traveling PT?” “That’s a thing?”, or my FAVORITE, “Is that like travel nursing, but for PT?” I will explain Travel PT from my point of view.

A travel PT USUALLY signs a contracts that lasts 13-26 weeks (3-6 months), but it could vary because it’s all dependent on what that company needs. So Travel PT is a thing because a company has quick need for a therapist. This could be anything that ranges from a maternity leave, someone unexpectedly quit, an increase in caseload, rural areas where it’s not as “sexy” to live, and sometimes a company has difficulty with staffing for whatever reason.

To be considered travel, you have to be at least 50 miles away from your home- or else it’s just a contract job, which works very similar, except the way yo get paid. I’ll talk about that in a later video.

There are 3 big things you need to think about : LOCATION, SETTING and PAY

FIRST, You need to figure out WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. Well, At least the state, so you can get licensed there. And the good thing is, companies WILL pay for each license that you get. As a disclaimer, I’ve learned the hard way, but it’s more difficult to get jobs in the big glamorous cities because remember most of these jobs are available because there is a need. There simply isn’t a need in a nice city since everyone wants to be there. NOT saying it doesn’t happen, it’s just a little more difficult and may have a lot to do with timing for something to pop up.

Secondly, Figure out what SETTING you want to work in- whether it’s outpatient ortho, inpatient rehab, SNF, home health, peds, acute care or whatever.

And LASTLY, HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WANT TO MAKE. Honestly, this is the last on my list, because MOST travel positions, you are going to make more money anyways since there is a higher need. And in MY OPINION, your primary reason to travel should not be about the money.

Out of these three things, tell your recruiter what’s most important. Are you willing to settle for a setting you don’t like as long as you’re by a beach? Will you take a job anywhere as long as it’s peds? Or you don’t care where you work, just give me the highest paying job you have.

I’ll be honest, you most likely (not saying never) won’t get your dream job, but you are more than likely to get 2 out of the 3 things you ask for. But if you get all three then you’ve hit the lottery- or at least pretty close.

So, that’s my intro on Travel Therapy. It is NOT for everyone. But if it is, you must learn to be very flexible! The good thing is that it’s not permanent, you are only committed to a contract at a time. You can do this for 2,5,10 years, or even just one contract and decide that this is not your lifestyle.


My favorite part of traveling is taking as much time off as I need between contracts to be fully recharged for my next job.


Andrew Tran, PT, DPT