In today’s health care world, a physical therapist cannot aim to manage the care of patients or clients without considering the resources involved.
These resources include fees that are charged for services provided and a host of other factors related to the business aspect of his or her practice. Skills such as leadership, administration, management, and marketing are a crucial part of 21st century physical therapy business.
Administration and management skills depict the business side of a physical therapist practice. These skills are necessary for a well-organized physical therapy business practice to succeed.
Leadership is the means through which the physical therapist faces the problems he/she comes up against. Leadership can be found in many forms and represents the roles that therapists fulfil in their professional responsibilities.
All of these skills are very important in a clinical practice and should therefore be included in courses taught by physical therapy colleges.
The APTA’s Normative Model, which guides the curriculum in physical therapy colleges, lists 5 categories of business and management skills expected of new graduates. These are direction and supervision of human resources, participation in financial management, establishment of a business plan, participation in marketing and public relations, and use of other business strategies in physical therapist management.
However, the Normative Model does not specify which specific skills or groups of skills are most critical for newly graduated physical therapists on setting up their practice. Nor does it indicate the level of skill or knowledge that should be required. In addition, it is not known whether these 5 suggested content areas are the most appropriate areas that need to be included in the curriculum of physical therapy colleges.
The absence of any clear directions and objectives has made physical therapy colleges churn out students who have the requisite clinical skills required but do not have any real world knowledge of marketing their practice.
There is essentially a gap between theory and practice in what is taught in physical therapy colleges. Recently graduated physical therapists find them themselves at a loss on their private practice. They are at a total loss on managing aspects like getting more clients, boosting up referrals or marketing their services. Sometimes, physical therapists spend more money on marketing plans without even understanding whether the marketing strategy will work for them or not.
Physical therapy schools must offer marketing as part of the curriculum so that the students are ready to face the world when they actually set up their own practice.