NATO

10+ Year Member
Jan 27, 2009
78
0
Tacoma (WA)
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
At my current job, even though I'm technically off the clock, I find myself doing some work during the weekends and stressing about work-related items that need to get done. My first job out of college was working in a call-center. Even though I didn't like working over the phones, I did enjoy having not to think about work after clocking out.

I would like PT to be my second career, but I want to know if being a PT really means not having to think/deal with work after clocking out so to speak. I've read on some "top 10 career" articles about how PT is relatively stress free, but I'd like to hear what PTs on this board say about it (if there are any).
 

markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
Status
DPT / OTD
I'm not a PT, but I was a teacher and even though some of my work stopped at the end of the school day there were still papers to grade, lessons to write, etc- but also-- I worried about some of my students. I expect myself to do the same when I become a PT...

Not all of my students, much like all of the patients we will come in contact with, will have a perfect story... I imagine that I won't be stressed about these things, but rather because I have so much empathy for others, it may bog me down a bit. ;)

But, that's the price you pay for being a caring person!
 

jesspt

10+ Year Member
Jan 31, 2008
1,120
403
Chicago, IL
Status
DPT / OTD
Speaking from an outpatient orthopaedic clinic perspective, once you leave the clinic, you have little to worry about. But, sometimes the difficult thing is actually levaing the clinic. If you're working in a busy environment, seeing upwards of 14-18 patients a day, returning phone calls, filling out insurance forms, keeeping up with your documentation, it can be difficult to get out of there in 8 hours.
 

BlueBlue8

5+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2010
78
16
Status
DPT / OTD
I am not a physical therapist, but I worked at an outpatient clinic for a few years.

One therapist was constantly running behind in her work. She barely had time to eat, and she always had the coffee brewing. Then she would take stacks of patient folders home to do her progress notes. She said the job reminded her of college because you always had homework and deadlines weighing on your mind.

Another therapist would try her best to keep up with her progress notes, but she would also fall behind too. Whenever she didn't have patients, she would do progress notes that may be a few days or weeks old.
I remember there was a mad rush to get progress notes completed to ensure billing or to prepare for an audit.

Another therapist completed her notes as she went from one patient to the next, and she remarked to me that she didn't understand why the other therapists did not keep up with their notes either.

My point is that it will all depend on your patient load and your work style. If you're very organized like the third therapist, you could probably go home without any real worries. The first therapist focused heavily on manual therapy for each patient (sometimes she would be booked for two months in advance), and I suspect that is why she could not get to her progress notes in time...but honestly, I don't know.

When I interviewed a therapist in college, he stated the one thing he did not anticipate was the large volume of paperwork one must do.
Hope that helps.
 
May 19, 2009
133
2
Status
Rehab Sci Student
Paperwork is the largest burden on practicing PT's, the move towards electronic systems will help this greatly. Essentially if you don't drown yourself in documentation you will be good to go.
 

markelmarcel

7+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2009
1,109
79
Status
DPT / OTD
Paperwork is the largest burden on practicing PT's, the move towards electronic systems will help this greatly. Essentially if you don't drown yourself in documentation you will be good to go.
So my tendency to want to re-write notes may be a downfall? :p
 

johncronejr

10+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2009
308
5
Status
DPT / OTD
I certainly don't plan on bringing work home. Some of the things I liked about the prospects of being a PT was not being on call, no night shifts, and a regular working day.

If PT required a schedule like an MD has, or even close to it, I likely would have decided to just go to med school.
 

DancerFutureDPT

Academic Administrator
Moderator
7+ Year Member
Jun 9, 2009
843
17
Chicago suburbs
Status
Academic Administration
almost all the PTs I work with go in on Saturday/Sunday to do documentation, because they don't want to stay 2 or 3 hours after work during the week each day to do it...most of them would rather come spend 6 hours on a Sunday doing big batches at once. Of course most of them take breaks to work out, watch TV, or eat left over food while doing so :p

And if you want to be a manager you will definitely be staying many extra hours (at least the managers I've worked with).
 

johncronejr

10+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2009
308
5
Status
DPT / OTD
Why are these PT's not taking care of the progress reports at the time they provide the service. The PT's I observed went to their desks after each, or several, patients and enetered the patient information into a computer program. Unless, I missed something, that was the extent of the progress report.

It certainly didn't look like anything that would take 6 hours on a Sunday to do.
 

callmecrazy

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2008
461
93
Status
Physical Therapist
Why are these PT's not taking care of the progress reports at the time they provide the service. The PT's I observed went to their desks after each, or several, patients and enetered the patient information into a computer program. Unless, I missed something, that was the extent of the progress report.
This isn't always an option. It is not unusual for outpatient PTs to have overlapping patients throughout the entire day, taking on another patient every 30 or even 15 minutes. They would then have zero "patient-free" time to just sit down and chart. This could get you backed up at the end of the day if you're not good at multitasking. Though even if that is the case, documentation shouldn't take more than a few minutes, a little extra if you have to update a POC or handle extra paperwork, but still nothing excessive like has been mentioned above.

Now with all that being said... even as a student, I feel like I've always been able to get my documentation done within typical work hours. Even with added responsibilities as an employee, I can't imagine getting that far behind. Good focus and multitasking should get you home in time with no incomplete work left behind. Also, I've gotten the impression that many facilities/directors wouldn't allow for incomplete documentation to be left behind anyways.
 

DancerFutureDPT

Academic Administrator
Moderator
7+ Year Member
Jun 9, 2009
843
17
Chicago suburbs
Status
Academic Administration
SOAP notes and stuff they do the same day, but for things like the initial eval dictations, progress reports, and discharge letters, those they usually don't have time to do while they're at work during the week (unless they want to work through lunch). When you see 15 patients/day, and work 5 days per week, you're going to have a handful of longer documentations to do each week. It's not as bad if your evals are spread out, but on your "light" weeks you tend to get a lot of evals because your schedule is open, which means you'll likely have all those patients needing their progress notes at the same time because they all started simultaneously, etc. It can get pretty hectic over time.

Some PTs are definitely better at handling this than others, but I've worked with some who were a month behind on progress notes...again, this is probably because of their own disorganization more than anything, so not everyone is like this, but in my experience quite a few PTs come in at least twice/month on a weekend to do a large batch.
 

TheOx777

Moderator Emeritus
Jun 25, 2010
477
4
Status
I think it may be a little naive to expect NO worries after work, whether those concerns are about paperwork or not. That said, I specifically chose PT as my future medical career of choice because you typically are not required to work 60-80 hours a week unless you choose to do so. I, too, would have went to medical school if that was the lifestyle I wanted to lead. Other factors like having a family, marriage, less liability, time to breathe(lol) may also factor into why one may choose to be a Physical Therapist. I also know firsthand that PTs may have the most patient interaction out of any of the major healthcare professionals. This is another plus in my book!
 

atstudent

Certified Athletic Traine
7+ Year Member
Jun 3, 2009
243
16
Waterloo, IL
mnhopper1s.wordpress.com
Status
Non-Student
The PT's in the clinic that I work at all have netbooks so they are able to do paperwork throughout the day. It is not uncommon for them to take the computer into a treatment room with them so they can type things up as they go along.

Whether they are typing or writing, ours seem to stay caught up for the most part. I'm guessing they are never more than a day or two behind. Could also help that rarely do they have to deal with the insurance companies-- we have others that do that for them.
 
Nov 3, 2010
203
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
My hope is that someday the paper becomes less of a tether, instead replaced by a better one. Notes and documentation are created primarily on some sort of notepad computing device that can be carried around throughout the day. This way charts would be accessed directly from a database beforehand. Then, progress notes and such would be uploaded via server to be stored after a session, ect.

I realize there are many hurdles to such a system ATM, and is primarily wishful thinking. The technology will eventually be there sure enough, but we're still good many years away from being even remotely feasible...
 

dizzy88

5+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2010
234
4
Utah
Status
DPT / OTD
I'm sure soon enough there will be an app for that :p

I can see iPads actually being useful for something like that...I really see no point in the ipad as it is now though lol.
Hah, funny that you mention that. My CI at the clinic I interned at this semester is involved in developing something similar. It will include means of documentation, CPR's, etc. The plans are just barely starting to develop, but they are hoping to get them across all of the company's locations within the next few years.
 

callmecrazy

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2008
461
93
Status
Physical Therapist
My hope is that someday the paper becomes less of a tether, instead replaced by a better one. Notes and documentation are created primarily on some sort of notepad computing device that can be carried around throughout the day. This way charts would be accessed directly from a database beforehand. Then, progress notes and such would be uploaded via server to be stored after a session, ect.

I realize there are many hurdles to such a system ATM, and is primarily wishful thinking. The technology will eventually be there sure enough, but we're still good many years away from being even remotely feasible...
I guess you would be happy to know then that you're a little behind the times;). The technology and feasibility are already here. Though I haven't seen it in outpatient clinics, I have been in inpatient settings with paperless documentation. On my last clinical, I could hop on any of our laptops or portable terminals to access charts and document from anywhere in the hospital. It was a fantastic system for "real time" documentation and overall efficiency. I'd be curious to see this in an outpatient setting as well; I'd assume it's happening somewhere.
 
Nov 3, 2010
203
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
I guess you would be happy to know then that you're a little behind the times;). The technology and feasibility are already here. Though I haven't seen it in outpatient clinics, I have been in inpatient settings with paperless documentation. On my last clinical, I could hop on any of our laptops or portable terminals to access charts and document from anywhere in the hospital. It was a fantastic system for "real time" documentation and overall efficiency. I'd be curious to see this in an outpatient setting as well; I'd assume it's happening somewhere.
Perhaps I am behind...but I'm still am skeptical there's still more for the standard level of integration I'd envision. I had known about push towards paperless documentation has made recent headlines from Obummer (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=9815548).

This could just be a start IMO..

I'd like to see in that essentially of all charts are converted and stored in a server for the patient. This information could be downloaded via a wifi system to a tablet computer that the therapist (& other health care providers) could carry around through the day. Updates the patients charts with the documentation be done anywhere convenient on the tablet device. Once all notes were done they would upload this information back to the server. Security would be a great concern. What if a device is lost, stolen, hacked, However, I have some ideas on those issues. All off this would be $$ upfront, and just because technology feasibly is there there's usually a lag before it's implemented to its fullest. Rehab budgets aren't usually that great to begin with anyway.

It's interesting to hear a push recently at (I'm presuming) the behemoth UPMC and its move toward technology integration and chart accessibility at stations in an in-patient setting. The 'station system' seems like a good compromise for costs while still being beneficial. I'll remember to ask a little about it come January when at Pitt.

However, I'm assume 99% of out-patient this is likely non-existent for now. Even at my nearby large university hospital system, the in-patient rehab in my area still have mounds of paperwork for the PT's to fill. This is even though they can get basic medical history for the pt from the university system from a desk computer. Lots of progress still to be made in getting away from paper anchors.