Today’s spotlight features a physical therapist who wpatient orks as Director of Clinical Education at Fabrication Enterprises. Learn about his career journey!
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What is your full name and title at your current job?
Eric Trauber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT
Director of Clinical Education at Fabrication Enterprises
Where are you located?
Elmsford, New York
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
I graduated with my Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College in 2010. Go Pioneers!!!
What did you do when you first finished school?
I graduated from Utica College in 2010. From there, I practiced in New York City in an array of outpatient settings including PT-owned and physician-owned clinics.
I was able to improve my clinical skills through those valuable experiences—but, more importantly, I gained different perspectives to guide my career development.
What did you do after that, and for how long?
I then transitioned to working at a hospital-based outpatient setting. I was involved in many educational initiatives, including evidence-informed practice, educational opportunities, and professional development. I was able to become a board-certified orthopedic specialist and continued to explore my interests in manual therapy and enhancing the patient experience.
I was fortunate enough to work alongside amazing individuals. Reflecting on my past experiences has helped shape my future and given me a clearer direction in life.
One of my greatest accomplishments was becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). I completed my training at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
The education I received, including learning new approaches/techniques and having continuous mentoring, was paramount in allowing me to see how much we can offer as physical therapists.
We provide more than care for our patients. We are educators, advocates, and resources for the community, but also for the profession. Physical therapy has continued to evolve, and we all need to evolve with it in order to further advance the profession.
When and why did you realize you wanted to do something non-clinical?
I felt the ceiling for professional development was relatively low in the clinical world.
There was also a lot of red tape in the way, so I found it very difficult to progress. I was ready for a new challenge.
What are you doing these days?
Currently, I am the Director of Clinical Education for Fabrication Enterprises, Inc (FEI). FEI produces brands such as CanDo, TheraPutty, Digi-Flex, and Baseline.
The people here are forward-thinking and they’re constantly considering how to move both our company and our industry forward.
FEI and I have a common goal to be a universal resource and take an active approach to help the development of both students and clinicians. We firmly believe professionals need to be in possession of the necessary concepts and principles to guide their development.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
My current role is 100% non-clinical.
How long have you been in your current role?
I started my new role in the beginning of January, 2021.
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
I was at a crossroads as I needed a new direction. I thought about exploring non-clinical PT roles and did some research.
I reached out to the CEO of FEI to learn more about his company. My intentions were to learn more about the business side of the profession. However, I quickly realized I wanted to learn more and this could potentially be the right place for me. I was immediately intrigued and interested in becoming part of the FEI culture.
It dawned on me that I could still help people, but just in a slightly different way. I sent an email expressing my interest, and they agreed that having a clinician on the team would be a tremendous benefit. The only remaining obstacle was to see if it was a good fit, and obviously we both felt it was.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
I didn’t necessarily do anything different, just conveyed ideas through a different lens to better facilitate the conversation. Most of all, I was just trying to be myself.
What was the interview like for the role?
The interview really wasn’t an interview at all. But I treated the situation as if I was applying for the position, even if it didn’t exist yet.
- I was asked some interesting questions that I never really gave a lot of thought before. For example, I was asked, “Does the color of the resistance band matter?” and similar questions that really challenged my thought process. I found this extremely fascinating.
- I think my ability to see multiple perspectives (patient, clinician, and industry) gave me an edge to demonstrate how valuable I could be to the team.
- As physical therapists, we need to learn how to leverage our clinical expertise and use it in creative ways. This will provide more opportunities for professional growth.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
There was no specific training, but I certainly received a lot of “on the job” training to help me get on-boarded as quickly as possible.
I am also planning to start my MBA with a specialization in healthcare.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Most of my friends have been totally accepting.
In fact, I have some classmates who are curious how to get into non-clinical roles as they are experiencing the same circumstances as I did.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
A typical day for me is sometimes a mixed bag of activities. Activities may include:
- Developing educational content for presentations
- Participating in educational initiatives
- Preparing manuscripts for publication
- Contributing to writing our therapy blog
- Being a subject matter expert with various products
- Acting as an available resource for the entire team
Working in an office is a totally different experience from treating patients in a therapy gym. There is more quiet time for individuals to concentrate on their work. This was certainly a change of pace for me.
Initially, I was a little concerned that I would be confined to my workstation and feel isolated. However, this was definitely not the case! Everyone here is so approachable and welcoming, which helped provide the same sense of camaraderie that I felt in the clinic.
In fact, there is constant communication between colleagues, and to me this is very exciting to see everyone so likeminded and passionate in what they are doing.
That’s the team I want to be a part of!
What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?
I started my job in January of 2021, and the main challenge has been in transitioning away from a clinical role. As with any new position, there is a learning curve, but my team has been supportive and has helped me onboard with relative ease.
The rewarding part is leveraging my clinical knowledge and utilizing it in a different way.
I am able to do many things that I may have not had time to do in the past, including developing educational content, submitting manuscripts to journals/blogs, and communicating with other companies that share a common goal of improving the delivery of care for patients.
How do you think working as a PT prepared you for this role? Which skills transferred?
As physical therapists, we are active listeners, effective communicators, and have great attention to detail. These are the foundational skills for any job, whether it be clinical or non-clinical.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
I believe in addition to the training we received as clinicians, as mentioned above, one would also have to be a self-starter.
There aren’t many people who are in my similar position. Therefore, I have to learn to be proactive and utilize my resources to better shape and create my role. My team has been amazing to help me along the way.
How has your team shown you support as you adapt to the Director of Clinical Education role?
When there are projects I am passionate about and think would be beneficial to the company, I have 100% support.
For example, I submitted abstracts for potential presentations at conferences. FEI looked at this as a tremendous opportunity to be a resource for clinicians and aspiring physical therapists.
Shameless plug, I will be presenting at CSM 2022 in San Antonio, TX. Hope to see you there!
Do you work remotely or on-site?
I have the ability to work on-site or remotely, but I’m mainly on-site.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles?
Yes. Understanding the clinical side of rehabilitation can lead to many advantages. The clinician’s perspective may allow for creative marketing strategies and to potentially discover new opportunities.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
There are a couple of books that come to mind:
What is next for you? What do you want to do with your career long-term?
I am looking forward to continuing to grow with FEI. I want to be a resource for students, clinicians, the community, and the profession.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours?
Sometimes you have to make your own path when there isn’t one in front of you. I encourage you to explore the endless number of opportunities, so you may find your direction in life and be successful.
If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had as a student, what would it be?
Be open-minded to what is out there. Sometimes we may already have our lives mapped out before we even start our journey.
Sometimes we may change our plans along the way if something doesn’t work out.
I feel that students need to learn early how to be dynamic and adaptable. Learning to reflect from our own experiences is vital, so that we have the opportunities to continue to grow.
If you could teach anything to today’s graduate students in your profession, what would it be?
It is okay to feel frustrated, burned out, or uninspired. Those are signs that something else is out there for you.
That should be the indication to pursue what you are truly passionate about, and embrace the challenges along the way.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
If you have an interest in learning more about non-clinical roles, reach out and talk to the people in them! I found this strategy helpful in understanding others’ past experiences and the journeys they traveled.
Curious how your own skills can translate into the non-clinical world? Explore your options in Non-Clinical 101, the comprehensive, fun, and inspiring course everyone is talking about!