Mentorship programs have much to offer the newly graduated physical therapist! As crazy as it seems, seven years of college was the first step to prepare you for your career, and you still have more to learn before becoming a full-fledged physical therapist. A mentorship serves as a middle ground between college and your permanent position, and will help you develop your professional physical therapy skills in a supportive learning environment. As you research job options, remember to consider mentorship as one of the benefits you might look for in your first physical therapist job.
Benefits of PT Mentorship Programs programs
As a budding physical therapist, you have the following advantages to gain from a career mentor:
- Ease your way into your physical therapy career. Some physical therapists choose to enter an official, academic residency program right out of college. A mentorship program has more flexibility than a residency, and is less of a time commitment, but gives you a similar benefit of continued instruction. A mentorship program makes the transition from school to career a little easier.
- Learn from “someone else’s mistakes.” Everyone knows that acquiring a new skill involves learning from our mistakes. However, under the watchful supervision of a mentor, you get the benefit of guidance from a PT who has been in the industry much longer than you and knows the ropes.
- Get the inside scoop on your profession. Your mentor can help you with all aspects of being a physical therapist, from patient care to paperwork, and will help you begin networking with other healthcare professionals.
- Get your foot in the door. Depending on the mentorship program you choose, you may set yourself on the fast track to your first PT job. For example, some employers offer mentorship programs as part of employment to fresh, new PT hires.
PT Mentorship Programs program options
Newly graduated physical therapists have several options when selecting a career mentor, depending on their preference. As you decide what you would like to take away from a mentor/mentee relationship, consider the following options:
- Your new employer. Hospitals and healthcare facilities want their staff to be successful. For this reason, many offer mentorship programs to newly hired, fresh-from-college physical therapists. With this option, you’ll get paid as you learn, and will already have your first physical therapy position. Also, your program will be structured to ensure you learn everything you need to know. However, you’ll be matched with a mentor, rather than being able to choose your own. This can potentially impact how well you work together.
- Your alma mater. Did you have a professor or faculty member at your college with whom you connected well? Seek out this individual to become your career mentor. With this option, you’ll have a mentor that you know, respect and with whom you feel comfortable. However, he or she may not be familiar with how mentorship works, and you’ll need to work together to make sure you’re getting all the support you need.
- A physical therapy professional. If you know a physical therapist who has progressed in a career path you’d like to learn more about, approach him or her to be your career mentor. You’ll be in charge of the relationship and of making sure you learn what you need, but you can rest assured you’ll be working with someone who will impart valuable knowledge.
- A professional organization, such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). If you haven’t had the opportunity to interact with physical therapy professionals on your own, you can locate a mentor through a professional organization, such as the APTA. Through its Members Mentoring Members (MMM) and Student Mentoring: Achieving & Reaching Together (SMART) programs, the APTA pairs less experienced PTS with well-seasoned PT mentors. Mentoring relationships such as these may not be as hands-on as working with a professor, colleague, or through your new employer; however, you’ll be part of a well-established program dedicated to your success.
Employers usually offer PT Mentorship Programs programs for one of four reasons:
- Recruit and Retain Top Talent. A mentorship program definitely gives a facility an edge in attracting and retaining employees. The relationships built thru mentorship will strengthen loyalty in any organization.
- Increase Diversity. Mentorship helps identify and overcome barriers to completing a long and arduous educational process. Facilities that are interested in diversifying their staff, can use mentorship to recruit therapists who otherwise might not be interested in tackling the difficulties of this profession.
- Develop Specialty Skills. Manual Therapy and other physical therapist skills are best “caught” – as well as taught. Organizations that want to spread their unique techniques must do so thru hands on training and mentorship.
- Succession Planning. Finding a therapist who wants to buy your clinic is harder than you might think. The personality type that does best with in the highly academic, research-based requirements of completing physical therapy programs don’t usually line up with the high level of risk involved in purchasing and managing a business. Many therapists would rather invest their time in research vs. business ownership and management. The best solution to this dilemma is for successful clinic owners to mentor promising employees and remove as many hurdles as possible on the path to taking over their clinic.
Understanding the motivation behind an organization’s approach to mentoring will help you decide it their job and mentorship program is a good fit for your interests.
What’s your plan for PT Mentorship Programs?
If you’re looking for a physical therapy job with an intentional mentorship component, the staff at PT Solutions can recommend some facilities in your area. We facilitate talent searches for premier rehabilitation providers, and connect physical, occupational, and speech therapists with direct hire and travel therapy job opportunities.