Riding the Wave in a Changing Community
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
For the first 9 years of my career in physical therapy, I had a great job as a sports physical therapist (PT) at one of the best hospital systems in the country.
I learned from top physicians, PTs, and athletic trainers, oversaw a residency program, brainstormed every week at sports medicine rounds, and ran a soccer-specific rehabilitation and injury prevention program.
The learning opportunities during those years were ones I will always be grateful for, but over time I began to realize a growing disconnect between hospital-based sports medicine and the community fitness industry.
My city, Cleveland, once known as "the mistake on the lake" was suddenly full of health-conscious energy. Boutique fitness studios appeared on every street corner, each forming their own unique communities and hosting city-wide wellness-focused events. Youth soccer, volleyball, baseball, and basketball clubs dominated national tournaments. Yoga classes popped up on urban rooftops and parks and even inside breweries.
I could feel that energy, and I knew I wanted to be part of that movement. I wanted to be where these people were. I wanted to help people get active and stay active without injuries and with expert guidance.
So I decided to make the leap from my hospital job and into the community.
Simple, successful, and flourishing, right? Wrong, my experience was far from it.
After making that brave jump 3 years ago, I've learned endless lessons involving business knowledge and relationship building, and, admittedly, I'm still learning.
Despite the obstacles faced and the stressors that came with this professional decision, today, I'm proud to say that I'm running a successful sports physical therapy and sports performance business.
In addition to the traditional physical therapist practice service options, at my clinic we offer things like:
- Coaching and managing injuries for a local running club with more than 100 members
- Partnering with 2 personal training gyms and a yoga studio
- Nutrition coaching
- Coordinating sports medicine services and providing sports physical therapist services to a local high school
Before you get too excited, I also think that establishing base knowledge and experience are just as important as finding that niche interest, practice type, or skill set. Take the time to work on your craft, experience different work environments, and seek out mentors and subject matter experts in our profession. If opening a practice is something you've set as a goal, get familiar with business concepts.
As physical therapist specialty practices and niche areas grow, it's on us as professionals to share the successes and failures. This October, at APTA's National Student Conclave, I'm excited to explain how I built my practice literally from the ground up. I'll tell you how I developed my unconventional business model and why it's continuously evolving. I'll also talk about the #bizPT knowledge we don't learn in school, including administrative, financial, and marketing considerations.
Want to hear more from Carol and others like her? Join us in Providence, Rhode Island, October 11-13, 2018, for APTA's National Student Conclave.
Carol Ferkovic Mack, PT, DPT, is owner of CLE Sports PT & Performance in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a board-certified specialist in sports physical therapy, specializing in end-stage rehabilitation of soccer athletes, female athletes, and runners. She also is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a precision nutrition level 1 certified coach. Mack currently serves as chair of the Female Athlete Special Interest Group through the American Physical Therapy Association. She is a member of the US Olympic Committee's volunteer medical staff. She also serves as a physical therapist for Beaumont School Athletics, distance coach for Fleet Feet Sports Cleveland, and consultant to the Yoga Roots educational team.