physical therapy and writing

Physical Therapy and Writing are Not Mutually Exclusive

I’ve wanted to be a writer and journalist since I was 12 years old. Throughout high school and college, I pursued any and all writing opportunities. I joined clubs, took on internships, and edited my school’s paper—if it would gain me more writing experience, I did it.

But suddenly, after graduating from college at the height of the Great Recession and during a time of major changes in the news industry, I decided to make a change.

I wanted a more stable career. I wanted the possibility of being my own boss. And I wanted to help people in a more direct way.

My dad suggested physical therapy, and after doing a lot of research and working as an aide, I was hooked. I took nine pre-requisite courses, applied to graduate school, and eventually became a physical therapist. I’ve now been practicing for three and a half years, but I never stopped writing.

I love my physical therapy career path, but writing is still my passion. 

Writing allows me to sort through my thoughts, gain and share new insights, and guide others along the way. And without the pressure of having to make a living through it, it remains enjoyable.

I’ve seen friends take jobs where they write mostly click bait, and I’ve personally had writer’s block when I’ve signed contracts where I agree to write X amount of articles every month.

But since I decided to write as often as I feel like it, I’ve written more than ever.

Here’s what I did to get started

Blogging

I began my blog as a way to get my story out there. When I applied to physical therapy school, I didn’t know anyone else who had done it, and I wanted to help others and also meet people with whom I could compare notes. A lucky side effect is that my blog also helped me stand out as a physical therapy school applicant.

Although I began my blog on Tumblr, I have since switched to mostly using WordPress as I have found the site to be more user-friendly.

Social media

I’ve used Twitter for almost as long as I’ve been blogging. More recently, I have launched Facebook and Instagram accounts. I use the sites to share my writing, but also to network. Thanks to social media, I have found PTs in my area who supported me, including sharing their salary histories with me. I have also gained HEP inspiration, and have been able to give back by mentoring others.

Through social media, I also am constantly finding new blogs. When I enjoy a site and feel like I have something I can contribute, I’ll reach out and ask if they take guest posts. Whenever possible, I will get paid for my writing, but sometimes I will write in exchange for just getting my name out there.

So…am I a writer or a physical therapist?

I consider myself to be both.

Frankly, my identity as a writer rarely comes up in the clinic. Since most of my writing is geared towards others in the PT world, there isn’t much I write that is targeted to my patients. When I’m in the clinic, I’m pretty focused on my job, and don’t usually think to mention my writing.

If anything, I should probably try to bring up my side hustles more often since they lend me a little extra credibility.

As a therapist and writer, I try to give the profession more visibility. My ease with writing also means that I have a relatively easier time with documentation, and I am often called upon to help with writing needs at my clinic.

I have been tasked with editing my company’s new website and running their social media.

I’m not quite sure what I want to do in the future. I have spoken to the APTA about becoming a member of their media corps, and hope to join in the near future. I’d love to keep writing, editing pre-PT essays, mentoring, and appearing on podcasts.

It would be great if my income from these endeavors continues to grow. And if I ever have the desire to step away from treating patients, I have the resume and experience I’d need to dive into a non-clinical job.

I plan on keeping a foot in the clinical world though.

I’ve worked too hard and enjoy my job too much to give it up. I enjoy getting to know my patients, and being able to help them so directly. I also enjoy the process of learning and gaining experience and seeing my skills improve. As I evolve into a stronger clinician, I hope to continue expanding my writing career.

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