Working as a Contract Physical Therapist

“I’ve worked in every setting you can imagine,” says Scott Henderson (PT). Henderson’s 30 years of experience as a physical therapist in multiple areas helped him to decide on one area to specialize in as a contractor. Through contract work, Henderson does therapy he loves all while getting a good variety of locations to mix up the daily grind.

“Fresh” Work Every Day

Henderson calls being a contract therapist a unique situation. “You always put your bag down in a new place,” says Henderson. The different places he goes to as a contractor make the work “fresh” and “new,” allowing him to really enjoy his job. He continues,  “Even though you don’t have much history, it allows you to have a significant impact as a therapist.”

The Versatility of a Unique Situation

Another advantage to working as a contract therapist is that if one placement does not fit well or does not cater to your interests, it’s temporary–a contract usually lasting 12-13 weeks. “If it isn’t ideal, you have the opportunity to do something else,” Henderson comments.

On the flip side, if you find that you are working well somewhere, the feeling is often mutual with others at the location. “My experience has been that if you are feeling it is a good fit, and you have done a good job for them, then they want to keep you around,”  Henderson says. The versatility of being able to stay or go according the situation is, according to Henderson, “The best of both worlds.”

The Qualities of a Contract Therapist

There are certain qualities that make contract work better for some than for others. Henderson mentions flexibility and the ability to adapt as one of the most important. Henderson comments that you are falling into new systems with each location, whether that be in billing, or department organization.

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The human aspect of therapy also requires a keen awareness of yourself as a therapist and person while doing contract work. “Dealing with individual humans requires seasoning,” says Henderson. He explains that although you could do contract work as a new therapist, in a contract setting you may be expected to work more independently than in a private setting, so it’s helpful to gain some experience before contracting.

Confidence is Key

Having some experience as a therapist, and the confidence that comes with that experience, is beneficial before starting contract work. Henderson leaves us with this thought about contract work- “If you’ve been around for a while and have confidence, it’s a slam dunk.”

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