What is your full name and title?
What year did you graduate from PT school, and where did you go?
I graduated from Columbia University in NYC in 1996
What did you do when you first got out of school?
I took a month or two to enjoy some time with family and friends then took my first job at Einstein Hospital in the Bronx. It was the site of my final PT school affiliation, and it felt like the right place for me.
I worked there for six years, rotating through the hospital rounds that the PT department serviced. After two years of rotations—including cardio-thoracic, ortho, subacute rehab, acute, outpatient, and wound care—I requested to stay in the outpatient department.
That’s a great way to get experience quickly! What did you do next?
I spent the next few years focusing on Ortho and Sports PT, as well as a side project with another PT from the hospital.
Together, Perry Bonomo and I wrote a book, ErgAerobics: Why does working at my computer hurt so much? It’s a guide to prevent and treat computer-induced repetitive stress injuries.
We first published it in 2000 and did some consulting based on behavior and movement. We always did our best to minimize the conversations about equipment and furniture, while instead focusing on posture, movement, and appropriate workplace exercise.
Very cool! How long before you wanted to do something new in your career?
After about five years at Einstein, I got a little “itchy” and looked into working elsewhere. The climate was different from how it is now. My options were mostly hospitals and small outpatient clinics. I didn’t find a great fit and realized I truly wanted to go out on my own.
In 2002, I opened Westchester Square Physical Therapy in the Bronx. By 2016, WSPT grew to three locations with 15 PTs doing 40,000 visits per year. I wanted to continue growing, but the risks of doing that outweighed the other opportunities in front of me.
In 2016, I sold WSPT to MOTION PT, a well-funded start-up with visions of competing with other large players in the NY tri-state area and beyond.
I continued to manage my three locations and gradually mentored my best people at each location to take over my responsibilities. Once the dust settled and all the pieces were in place, I transitioned to my current role as Director of Business Development. I’ve been at that position for over a year now.
Congratulations! What are your responsibilities as Director of Business Development?
My primary responsibilities have been:
- Managing new office and renovation projects
- Researching, initiating, and planning acquisitions and mergers
- Training and supporting incoming groups on our EMR platform to prepare for integration and GoLive with MOTION
- Researching and developing new initiatives, such as telehealth PT and other forms of innovative care
Did you get any special certifications or have any training along the way to you at this role?
I did not have any special training except the on-the-job experience of being a practice owner.
Owning and running a practice for 15 years allowed me to experience the excitement, fear, pressure, and rewards of being fully accountable for myself, my family, and my staff. All challenges and issues required a solution.
That solution could be something predictable and planned, or a new and innovative means of achieving our desired goal. I always welcomed that challenge and worked my hardest to solve problems and implement solutions.
What is a day (or a week) in the life like for you?
Currently, I’m working on several development projects, including the design and build-out of two office relocations and one renovation.
I interface daily with our real estate broker, an architect, different contractors, and other sub-contractors.
I occasionally visit potential acquisition partners in the NY metropolitan area to assess clinical and cultural fit.
The remainder of my day lately has been related to the research and development of our telehealth initiative. I’m leading our pilot program and expecting to grow it into a significant department within the MOTION universe.
Did I mention that I work from home? I often spend 8-10 hours a day in front of a monitor (at a sit-stand desk; I’m still a PT at heart). I spend that time emailing and on calls (including conference calls) most days.
Do you still treat patients, or are you fully immersed in the non-clinical world?
I do not treat patients in-person, only via videoconference (telehealth PT).
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into the same non-clinical field?
I love what I do. I don’t know that it’s for everyone because it requires the ability to pivot throughout the day.
It can be challenging to go from on-site construction projects to tech-based conference calls to writing telehealth guidelines.
I don’t know that this job exists at most companies, but in general I recommend keeping an open mind, being flexible, and focusing on the task at hand.
Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?
Keep learning. Once you feel established as a PT, a few years into practice, focus on a specialization or niche.
Drill into it, learn all you can, and make it part of who you are. Continue to assess, and after two or three years you can go deeper or add something else to your arsenal.
I’ve specialized in:
- Private practice
- Diabetes management
- Corporate practice ownership
- Telehealth PT
The possibilities are endless in PT. Try things out and don’t be afraid to fail. You will grow from each experience.
Do you have any books, courses, podcasts, or anything else you’d recommend?
I’ve been a Tim Ferris guy since “The 4-Hour Workweek.” He identified early on that you don’t have to sit in a cubicle eight hours a day, five days a week (or more). I’ll bet he works more than most people, but he’s doing what he loves on his terms.
Our traditional idea of work continues to change, as he predicted, and the possibilities for making a living as a PT are endless.
I occasionally go on sprees with the Tim Ferris podcast but I think Joe Rogan is the best in the game. I’m currently reading the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s fascinating and deep. It’s the kind of book that puts our daily existence into perspective.
What do you do to relax?
To wind down I run, ski, and I do the NY Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle.
If you could change one thing about the PT profession, what would it be?
In my ideal PT world, every person would have a PT they can rely on—someone they can reach out to any time they’re experiencing a musculoskeletal dysfunction, injury, or pain.
Not enough people recognize the value we could bring to their life, and very few PTs communicate that value to their patients.
We need to be better advocates for ourselves and our profession every day to make that happen.
Thanks for your insight, Dan!