Rehab Director Kilah Dunn, PT graduated in the spring of 2012 and took a position with RehabVisions in Kansas as the rehab director and only treating physical therapist. Five years later and she is still the sole PT at the facility, working confidently in that role thanks to the mentorship she received and her own hard work to grow her clinical skills.
“I was fortunate to receive mentorship from upper management at RehabVisions,” says Kilah. “Bill (Assistant Director of Operations Bill Mannewitz, PT) helped me a lot initially and was always willing to take my phone call. Additionally, I did a lot of looking back in my books and looking things up, which I think made me a better therapist.”
So, what can you do if you find yourself as the sole therapist at your first job? Kilah has advice for new graduates starting in similar situations:
- Seek mentorship! Get plugged in with someone you can call or email to bounce treatment ideas off of. Feeling like you’re connected to a mentor even if they aren’t physically in your location is incredibly helpful.
- Pick the right CEUs. If I was struggling in a certain area, that became my focus for the year. All my CEUs would go to improving my skills in that specific diagnosis or body part.
- Realize that you’re still a new grad. Remembering to simply do no harm and be nice to your patients (they’re very understanding) goes a long way.
- Get comfortable with networking and reaching out to the other therapists in your area.
- Develop and maintain strong relationships with general practitioners and area doctors. Go out to meet them in person or even ask to shadow their surgeries so they are more comfortable sending referrals.
- Having a company behind you that is knowledgeable about rules and regulations helps alleviate pressure around staying up-to-date on compliance, reimbursements and other important changes.
“I feel like there is always that learning curve during the first year or two,” says Kilah. “You’ll become more confident after seeing the same diagnosis or similar cases several times. The biggest change in comfort level is really just experience, and you can’t get that from anywhere else other than working.”