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Remember the good old days in physical therapy?

Therapists relied on a stable industry with positive career growth and mobility.  PT graduates were paid a competitive salary that allowed them to pay off reasonable school loans in a realistic time.

Good jobs were abundant in choice locations and specialties. Skilled therapists were allowed the necessary time to develop their craft as patients made substantial progress.  Therapists had the environment to deeply connect with patients which often lead to a meaningful experience for both parties.

In large most therapists loved their work and encouraged the next generation to think about a career as a therapist. 

Well, times have changed. An overemphasis on cost containment is eroding away the very heart of the physical therapy profession. There are lots of therapists who are unhappy with their jobs. And apparently, therapists are not the only ones.

In a recent poll by Gallup reported that only 13 percent of the world’s workers are “engaged” in their jobs. The other 87 percent feel disconnected from work and more frustrated than fulfilled. Similarly, only 54 percent of physicians said they would select medicine as a career if they had to do it over again.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. When a co-worker tells you that she hates her job or runs down her supervisor, we aren’t shocked. We’ve been conditioned to think that’s the way healthcare is nowadays. Just get used to it, they say.

However, don’t be mistaken that this dissatisfaction is being missed on the next generation of would-be therapists.

Why go to graduate school and rack up huge amounts of school debt when the payoff is no longer a certainty? The best and the brightest are looking for alternatives. They want more than your average factory PT job. They don’t want to put off their dream jobs while they “work for the man” for twenty years or so just to pay off their school debt.

For many therapists, the answer is entrepreneurship.

Go toan university campus today and you will come across entrepreneurship programs and centers encouraging business start ups. You’ll run across more aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs than aspiring pre-med and pre-PT students, even though healthcare was supposed to be a no-brainer for success.

Entrepreneurship promises new graduates a career that combines personal autonomy and a financial upside. They can have a corporate culture that appeals to thier values and be their own boss. Who can blame them for opting out of traditional medicine with it’s big business mentality for an unconventional line of work.

Unfortunately, real entrepreneurship has very little to do with the glamorized version that has captured the public’s attention.

My story as a therapy entrepreneur begins even before I went to PT school. As a child I had a creative imagination. My mother encouraged it even though it was at times mischievous.  You could hear her say “What will he dream up next?”

I watched my father as a small business owner for over 30 years work seven days a week to provide for his family and put his children through college. He had to reinvent his business several times to survive against big box grocery stores. The longer I live the more I realize how he impacted how my approach to work and my desire for independence.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had an inner urge to create something. It’s part of my DNA. I’ve always loved the challenge to take an idea and see if I can make it work.

I was an entrepreneur before and during PT school. I knew from the onset of my career as a PT that I wasn’t wired to work for anyone else.  I didn’t see being a entrepreneur as a way to be rich and famous but more of a self expression.

I became an entrepreneur because it chose me.

Your story may be different from mine. Maybe you didn’t expect to be an entrepreneur but you got laid off from your job.

You needed a way to pay the bills.

Perhaps you’ve reached a stage in your life where you’re ready for something different. You want to practice your craft and live differently than you have in the past. Some of you might be still in school and want to pursue your dream practice on the side while you have a ‘regular’ PT job that pays the bills.

Regardless of how you’ve developed your interest in therapy entrepreneurship it’s important to have a realistic picture of it.

In the face of all the hype from the glamorized version of being entrepreneur you’ll want to think long and hard about dipping your toe into the entrepreneurship waters.

If you are considering becoming your own boss in one shape or another stay tuned to the EIM blog. This post is the first in a series on lifestyle therapy entrepreneurship. To help you understand what to consider starting a practice from scratch I’ll cover:

  • What Does a LifeStyle Therapy Entrepreneur Look Like?

  • Five Reasons Not to Quit Your Therapy Job (Just Yet)

  • Three Essential Resources For a Therapy Entrepreneur

  • What Are the Signs To Go All In

From the outside being your own boss can be appealing. Who doesn’t want to pursue their dream practice? Who doesn’t want the freedom to do the work they love, when and where they want it?

But the truth is, entrepreneurship can be a lot of hard work, long hours and little payoff in the beginning. But it’s worth exploring, so if you’re interested I invite you to join in the conversation on the merits of therapy entrepreneurship in the weeks ahead

Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he had the opportunity to live out his dream practice.He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and Cash Therapy Practice: Professional Freedom in the New Healthcare Economy. His website PaulPotterpt.com and his podcast Functional Freedom are dedicated to helping therapists build their dream practices. Connect with Paul on his website or on Twitter @lifetouchpt. You can also get more free resources at PaulPotterPT.com

On social media or in the comment section, share your thoughts on the value of therapy entrepreneurship in today’s world.




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 will help you.

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.

I can help you launch or improve your practice

I’m available for one-on-one consulting to help you launch or improve your therapy practice.

Ask your questions or share your feedback

  • Comment on the shownotes
  • Email heypaul@paulpotterpt.com (audio files welcome)


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