PT graduates matter because they are not only different from those who graduated before them; they are more numerous than any generation other than Baby Boomers. Millennials already make up 25% of the US workforce. Larger therapy class sizes have contributed the rapidly growing influence of Millennials in the workplace.  Their career goals, beliefs about work and their knowledge of technologies will define therapy professions in the 21st century.

I had the opportunity to meet up with therapy students along with some new grads, fresh PTs, as they like to call it, in Omaha, Nebraska. I presented on starting cash therapy practice at the APTA’s National Student Conclave 2015.  The interaction was lively and very enlightening. I came away with the belief that every private practice owner should seize the opportunity to learn from the next generation of therapists.

Here are 3 lessons I learned from ‘Fresh PTs’:

1. Make a Difference

It’s clear to me that Millennials will be a powerful generation of therapists. They are very bright and those with the right skills will be in high demand. Interest in private practice remains high. Almost every student that I spoke with had aspirations of starting their own business some day.

Even though I was talking about the cash practice model it wasn’t just about the cash to them. They wanted to make a difference in people’s lives through their work. They wanted to create their own practice to do something meaningful. Employers would be wise to incorporate a sense of mission for the greater good into their clinic culture.

Reimbursement reductions and increased regulations have beaten down many clinic managers.  Allow fresh PTs to challenge your thinking about productivity and revitalize your desire to make a difference in client’s lives. It will do wonders for your soul.

2. Work/Life Balance

The students I talked to expressed a desire to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Many were non-traditional students who were married and had a family. These students went back to school to pursue a career that offered them the opportunity to help people. There were students with business degrees that had experienced the business world and wanted out.

Millennials feel that corporate therapy jobs fail to deliver on their expectations for a work/life balance. To escape factory-like therapy, some students are considering starting a therapy business even while working a full time.  Their desire to have personal and professional freedom is very strong. They aren’t motivated as much by the accumulation of wealth and stuff. They were more interested in quality experiences both at work and in their personal lives.

This generation of therapists is committed to personal development and growth. Private practice owners need to offer new therapy entrepreneurs a way to test out their ideas. Instead of seeing new entrepreneurs as competitors, existing practices should become angel investors to help get a new private practioner get off the ground.

3. Debt Tradeoff

Graduating from therapy school with large amounts of student debt is the norm for most students. It is not atypical for students to graduate with school loans of $100,00 to $150,000. Yikes!

Unfortunately, graduation has become a frightening time for many students. Student debt has forced many fresh PTs to make compromises when finding a job. Many students feel that they’ll have to make some sort of trade-off to find work that pays well to begin paying down on their school debt. Corporate therapy has created employment pathways for new grads whereas private practice for the most part has not.

If were are going to move our profession forward we are going to have to provide opportunities and assistance for therapy entrepreneurs to get started in private practice. It is not economically feasible for most new graduates to consider the traditional practice startup costs with the debt load they already have. Established private practices should offer assistance through business mentoring and startup funding.

Every generation can learn from the generations ahead and behind them. Professions that attract and retain millennial talent will thrive in the new economy. So what can private practice owners do? We can begin by having conversations with fresh PTs. It’s very important to understand and address the generational differences. Understanding begins by listening. You can easily interact with Millenials through social media but I would strongly encourage you develop relationships through face-to-face meetings locally and at conferences.

Help Millennnials grow. Managers need to really understand the personal and professional goals of new therapists. Challenge them to think up new ways to exercise their creativity and help people in an affordable way.

Don’t just comfortably hang out with people of your age group. Seek out opportunities to mix things up generationally. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Post one lesson you learned from someone from a different generation than you.


Millenials The great divide


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As therapists we have tremendous opportunity to use our abilites, education and expertise to enhance client’s lives. What a privilege? If your are in the therapy business to serve people, then my new book On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice might help you. The healthcare industry has undergone so many changes lately and many therapists are overwhelmed, overworked and confused on where to turn to for help in the battle.

On Fire takes a close look at innovative therapists who are using alternative ways to deliver high-value care to their patients. Cash therapy services have emerged as a viable alternative to accepting business as usual.

If you are intrigued by the attention that cash-based practices are attracting On Fire is a great primer to help you get up to speed on the key issues and how if might impact your practice. The book is available on Amazon. If you are interested in getting your own copy join my email list and I’ll keep you up to date on the special pre-order bonuses I’m giving away.

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