Being A Good Therapist is No Longer Good Enough

Do you believe in the myth that if keep your head down and do what expected your job is going to be “safe”? Maybe that safe job is not the type of work you find meaningful and fulfilling.

The U.S. healthcare market has changed and continues to change at a rapid pace. There is a new standard of how healthcare is being delivered and reimbursed. Therapists are struggling to adapt to the ever-changing landscape. Sometimes organizations and therapists are slow to face the new market realities.

There has been more focus on cost and value because of unsustainable growth in healthcare spending. The fee-for service model that encouraged waste is on its way out. New reimbursement models are forcing healthcare providers to deliver better outcomes that cost less and are convenient for the consumer.

Today’s consumer is more informed and incentivized in the purchase of healthcare services because of higher deductibles and co-pays. They want value and results for their money. The previous “the doctor knows best” mentality is being replaced by “how much does this cost?”  They are no longer looking for a good therapist but they want the best, whatever that means.

In a competitive marketplace the benefits of standing out and being the best–no matter your profession– are rapidly increasing. The Internet has amplified the noise so to be heard above the crowd therapists need a strong clear message of who they are and the value they offer.

No More Safe Therapy Jobs

“Safe” therapy jobs that are predicated on being quiet and doing your job are quickly disappearing. I’m from the Midwest where there is a strong work culture that prides itself in the value of hard day’s work.

I believe that there is a cultural belief among therapists that if you just work hard enough you’ll be recognized and rewarded in the long run. Unfortunately, in today’s economy this is a formula for professional disillusionment and burnout.

Therapists are often overwhelmed by the busyness of providing quality care and keeping up with the daily paperwork. As therapists put their heads down and take care of their patients nobody really notices or pays much attention.

As the average therapy job becomes more robotic and big data driven you can’t rely on your reputation as a good, hard working therapist to advance your career. Your new boss and colleagues have no clue what you’re really doing because they are busy with surviving the same work pressures.

You need to willing to publically share yourself and your message if you expect to advance in your therapy career. Building a strong professional reputation is the best tactic to protect and advance your therapy career.

3 Steps to Build a Strong Professional Reputation

  1. Become a Category Authority

When you are recognized as a category authority, patients and employers will want your services. They won’t want just any therapist but they will specifically want you. Therapists typically have difficulty narrowing their clinical focus. Choosing a niche is a key step in developing a clear professional message.

Narrowing your focus and building your knowledge in a specific area of practice may seem like a career limiting move. But in a noisy competitive marketplace vying for your patient’s attention sometimes it’s the only way to rise above your competition.

  1. Build Your Professional Platform

The competition for good jobs and patients is fierce. In your local economy you don’t have to be a worldwide superstar. But you need to be deliberate about being visible and top of mind in your local area. Strategically select marketing channels where you can connect with your ideals clients and key partners.

Set up a bio page on the free website so when people search the web to research you they find a visual appealing and informative site. Simple steps like this will make you light years ahead of your competition, many of which are doing nothing to stand out.

  1. Become a Thought Leader

Whatever the reason you go to work or however you want to make a difference– you are meant to share it with others. Any therapist can go to the clinic to see patients and type in their notes for eight or ten hours a day.

Most therapists are made for more than that. They have ideas and skills to improve patient’s lives, make their organization better and even the world. You can’t afford to let your innovative ideas remain hidden inside you. People need your unique contribution.

Becoming a thought leader is not about making lots of money it’s about having impact with your message and life. Look for ways to share your insights via a blog, speaking engagements or videos.

How are you going to build a strong professional reputation so that you can stand out and make an impact? It’s not about seeing more patients and making more money (though there is nothing wrong with benefitting from your professional reputation).

It’s about solving real problems and providing real value to your patients, employer and the world.

It’s About Courage

It takes courage not to play it safe. Courage is needed to put yourself out there, to be genuine and be willing to have your ideas criticized. You are brave enough to make a difference because you genuinely believe you can help others and as Steve Jobs said it “put a dent in the universe”

It takes a willingness to trust that your generosity, professional aptitude and hard work strategically delivered will benefit the world.


Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice. 

He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website and his podcast Functional Freedom are dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at


What is one action you can take to build your professional reputation today?

4 responses to “Being A Good Therapist is No Longer Good Enough

  1. Paul;
    Great read! It is one all new and seasoned therapist will benefit from reading. It takes more professional engagement these days to survive and thrive, than just showing up and giving your best effort. Many of the actions you write about may not tie 1-1 to the ‘job’ of physical therapy. But those actions lead to success in your market, within the clinic, and in the financial success of the practice. I would add to your action list, start measuring outcomes. And measure the outcomes that matter to you, the patient, and the payer/purchaser. The talk about outcomes has been around for years, but it will be a necessary activity in your practice very soon! We are already being measured by stakeholders. We need to define the best tools, the meaningful tools for our practices, and start using them. It will be hard to demonstrate your expertise without meaningful outcomes.

    1. Paul Potter says:

      Craig, Thanks for your feedback and the addition of using and defending our value through meaningful outcomes. I love your emphasis on using outcomes that matter to you, the patient and the payer. I’d probably put the patient at the top of the list as a place to start.

      1. Cheri Hubert, PTA says:

        Absolutely, Paul, not only because patient-centered care is in the fore-front today, but because we all know that healing begins with the patient & we are just facilitators.

  2. suresh says:

    Nice words and works

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *