Josh Young is a physical therapist who now works as a Joint Reconstruction Representative at Stryker Orthopedics. Learn how he made his career transition into his non-clinical role!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Josh Young, DPT, BS
Joint Reconstruction Representative (sales), Stryker Orthopedics
What additional roles do you currently have?
Senior Mako Product Specialist
Where are you located?
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
University of Saint Augustine San Marcos, California 2016
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
Sports/ortho PT 14 months in addition to PRN SNF PT.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
Not much, to be honest. I thoroughly love connecting with people, though.
I enjoyed my time working in SNFs the most, but I learned extremely early on that a career as a clinical physical therapist was not for me.
The pay, redundancy, documentation, and lack of guidance were all red flags right out of the gate for me. It felt too much like Groundhog Day to me every day.
I lacked excitement and passion for the career, and the career itself lacked variety and excitement for me.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?
I traveled and lived in variety of areas in the US, picking up PRN PT positions along the way—until I truly realized a change had to be made.
I even spent a summer working as a server at a lake resort and working PRN PT in SNFs on the weekends.
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I can recall a time midway through PT school when I knew. I had a feeling it wasn’t for me.
But the time and money I had invested up to that point I didn’t see any other option but to see it through.
And after bouncing from one PRN position to another, I knew about two and half years in I had to make a change.
What are you doing these days?
My current job title would fall under the category of medical device sales.
When I started with Stryker, I was labeled as clinical support (non-sales) as a Mako Product Specialist. It’s essentially having a knowledge base and skills in the execution for the orthopedic robot (Mako) used to assist surgeon when performing TKA, PKA and THA procedures. So, I would be in the OR with surgeons while they performed the surgeries.
Now, my role is similar. I understand the robotic and non-robotic procedure for performing total joint replacements, but I am now on the sales side.
So, it is my intent and my job to get surgeons to use Stryker products, as well as assist in the surgeries. While I am not scrubbed into the surgery, I am still present in the OR.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I am solely non-clinical PT.
How long have you been a Joint Replacement Representative at Stryker?
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
Not until I was hired by Stryker. They have their own training course you are put through when you get hired.
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
Online—I applied to probably more than 50 medical device sales and non-sales positions.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
Tailored it imply the sales aspect of physical therapy. I also highlighted how you, as a PT, are the product you’re selling.
What was the interview like for the role?
Three total interviews: two one-on-one and the last was a panel interview.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?
You have to draw your own map. Work hard but think even harder. Make connections any where you can, volunteer, help out where you can. In this industry, it is noticed.
Then, when a position comes up, your name will come up if you do those things and execute.
Also, I wasn’t afraid to look at other companies while I was in my non-sales position. It helped establish my value in my company.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
A lot of questions and support.
It’s amazing the amount of PTs and OTs that have reached out to me from around the country asking for advice, wanting a career change.
I remember the feeling of frustration and at the time didn’t have anyone to call on. Friends from PT school that are dissatisfied with their current situation are often interested.
Editor’s shameless plug: that’s why we started The Non-Clinical PT! And, if you’re unsure what you want to do next (much less how to get there), check out Non-Clinical 101! We cover sales and have helped countless rehab professionals enter the lucrative and flexible world of medical device sales!
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you at Stryker? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time as a Joint Replacement Representative?
I spend a good amount of time in the OR each week. When I’m not in the OR, I’m preparing for surgeries, organizing inventory and locking in schedules.
There is also maintain and establishing new relationships with new business (surgeons) which is a challenge.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
Working with surgeons is both rewarding and challenging. But establishing and creating those relationships is phenomenal.
Acquiring new business or getting businesses to flip to your product is one of the greatest challenges. The time demand for this job is very real, but the financial upside is so much greater then PT.
How did your clinical background prepare you to work as a Joint Replacement Representative at Stryker?
Absolutely, the knowledge of the human body was extremely helpful, as well as understanding medical terminology.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
Hours and days vary, which I love. Some days, you can be at the hospital in surgery for 10 hours, but other days for 4 hours. Some days, you won’t be there at all. Pay is significantly better, no doubt about that!
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
I’ll start with this: the surgeons I work with don’t care what my credentials are. You don’t need a clinical license to do this work. Surgeons want to know that I understand the products and procedures they’re doing, I have what they need, and I’ll be present with them and enjoyable to be around.
But you have to have thick skin, know how to read a room, converse with anyone, and be detailed oriented.
Do you work remotely or onsite?
Mixed bag, but predominantly onsite in hospitals.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
It just depends… a medical SALES roles without sales experience is EXTREMELY difficult to come across.
My advice is to start looking for non-sales clinical roles; you will have a better chance. Recruiters who work for these companies will likely pass on a resume that doesn’t have sales experience, regardless of the your doctorate.
But there are also sales associate roles essentially assisting the sales rep and those are attainable as well.
Editor’s note: we cover this and so much more in Non-Clinical 101!
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
Nothing! To be honest, I just put myself out there for any and all opportunities. Once I started looking, I realized the possibilities were endless. I didn’t pigeonhole myself into anything specific.
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
Sales positions are difficult to come by; no doubt about it. But you have to start somewhere. And unlike PT, the opportunities for career advancement are plentiful, if you look for them.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
Maybe Mako or JR management. As my family grows, I’ll probably want to spend less time in the OR. But who knows—I am still open to any and all possibilities. And the JR side is lucrative but demanding, but it is very inventive driven and I like that.
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
PT school taught me a lot beyond PT, and I might not be where I am today if it weren’t for PT school.
I developed a lot as a person during the three years of PT school. My confidence, my drive, and my ability to apply myself and keep working are all things that were revealed during the struggle of PT school.
If I had discovered those things prior to PT school, this might be a different conversation, but I am grateful for what PT school brought out in me—and I am blessed and proud of myself for having the courage to make a change with something in my life I was dissatisfied with, even though I was scared. Best decision I ever made.
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
Never be afraid to change the status quo, never be afraid to make changes in your life that benefit your well-being. We’ve all got one shot at life, and time moves in one direction. Have the agency and autonomy to live the life you want.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
If you want to make a change, it’s not as hard as you think. Read, research, and connect. Find your resources and use them. It might be scary, but you’ll thank yourself for the growth.