This week’s spotlight features a physical therapist who took her knowledge and experience, and formed her own consulting business called Therapy Edge Consulting!
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What is your full name and title at your current job?
Katie O’Shea, PT, DPT, MBA, GCS, CDP, CCRP. I am the owner of Therapy Edge Consulting.
Where are you located?
I live in Marlton, NJ.
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
I went to PT school at Thomas Jefferson University and graduated with my MSPT in 2006 and DPT in 2008.
I graduated with my Masters in Business Administration from Holy Family University in 2010.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I worked in a level I trauma hospital for the first five years of my career. I completed rotations throughout all the clinical service lines, which really helped me learn about a variety of conditions and treat them as both primary and secondary conditions.
The hospital also had an inpatient rehab unit & outpatient department where I was able to spend some time covering and seeing patients throughout the whole continuum of care.
What did you do after that, and for how long?
From that job, I went to home health under the Part B model and worked in that setting for 2 years. I was fortunate to be able to travel the east coast assisting with the roll-out of the new EMR for the company, and where I started to really develop the foundation of my leadership style.
From there, I took a Director of Rehab position at a new subacute rehab and was in that position for 2 years. This was one the busiest times of my life. I learned so much about rehab and the business behind the patient care, and started to utilize my MBA. It was an amazing experience but I started to miss clinical care, and needed balance back in my life. So, I stepped away and took a clinical PT position in a local acute care hospital for one year and reset myself.
A home health management position opened up around the time I started looking, so I took a leap of faith and started out in an area I knew nothing about. I learned a lot from a great boss who took me under his wing. I was in this position for about four years until the company went through some downsizing, and unfortunately the program was dissolved.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I enjoyed learning, and the talented clinicians I met along the way!
I did not (and still don’t) enjoy documentation. It has always been a challenge for me to complete point of service and take attention away from the patient’s session. It’s a hard line to walk in a productivity-driven environment where point of service is the standard.
At what point did you realize you wanted to do something non-clinical with your background, and why?
About seven years into my career, during my time as Director of Rehab, I realized my skills and passions aligned with leadership development and training.
What are you doing these days?
Today, I am the founder and owner of Therapy Edge Consulting, LLC.
Therapy Edge Consulting was founded in 2019, and is a dynamic healthcare consulting company providing clinical solutions, business operations consulting, individual coaching, and professional speaking services.
Our vision is to bring humanity back to healthcare. We achieve this through enhancing operational efficiencies, supporting best clinical practices, and developing the most important aspect: the people. Our vision is for a community of healthcare leaders at the bedside and in the clinics who are driving clinical excellence with operational balance on a daily basis.
Initially, the business was a part-time endeavor. However, after being laid off in January of 2020 from home health, I took the leap and went full-time.
It really is true how sometimes one door has to be slammed shut for you to realize there’s another door to go through.
Where did you get the idea for Therapy Edge Consulting?
The operational consulting piece of my business was inspired by my experience working throughout the continuum of care and seeing struggles faced in practice. I apply a pragmatic systematic approach to reviewing a company’s pain points and help to direct them towards improved operational efficiency. Having worked across the continuum of care, I’m able to give guidance on expectations of clinical care.
The professional speaking piece has been a surprise to me! I love teaching and helping people find a way to grasp a new concept, but I’m an introvert. As you can imagine, being in front of a large group would not be in my top 10 list of fun activities. However, I truly enjoy the platform to share knowledge, and I’m becoming more confident in front of a crowd.
It’s always about growth, even for those of us in entrepreneurial and leadership positions!
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I treat on a per diem basis at a large university hospital in Philadelphia. I enjoy seeing the real-time clinical care and it helps keep me grounded and current with respect to the services I bring to my consulting clients.
What percentage of your time is spent clinically vs. non-clinically?
Scheduling looks different every week as a consultant, so it varies.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land jobs before you started Therapy Edge Consulting?
As I was progressing through the ranks of management, I made it a point each month to add any new projects and accomplishments to a mock resume.
It served as a running list for me; so that when I went to apply for the next job, I had a visual reminder of my accomplishments that I could speak to in my cover letter. I would be sure to update my resume to highlight the alignment of my strengths to the requirements of the position I was applying for.
Do you have any tips on interviewing to share with our readers?
Although I am currently in an entrepreneur role, one piece of wisdom from hindsight that I’d like to share is to not be afraid of the interview process. The number of people you interview with increases as you advance the ranks, and more time is spent in the actual interview process.
Did you get any special certifications or training during your career?
I completed my MBA in 2010 and I absolutely believe it has given me the foundation to see healthcare from a broader operations perspective. This has been helpful in bridging the clinical versus operations divide that so frequently happens in healthcare organizations. My heart will always be in supporting our clinicians, and taking care of the patient, but understanding the expenses associated with care helps to make smart business decisions and ensure long term success.
In 2013, I became a Geriatric Clinical Specialist through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, and in 2020 I became a Certified Dementia Practitioner through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. I think both of these certifications have helped to establish me as an advanced clinician in the geriatric arena and as a role model to new graduates looking for further clinical distinction.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance during your career?
Some advice to share from my days of walking that path:
Ask questions, get to know everyone, and utilize professional development resources from your employer.
While searching a company’s “intranet” one day, I found an employee training program for Lean Six Sigma. It was something that I did on my own time, but having that opportunity available was wonderful.
Tools and resources are available, but you have to be willing to put in the time beyond the 40-hour work week.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
It is a mix of reactions. I still am friends with therapists from my full-time clinical days who can’t believe I gave up full time patient care because of the joy I had being a therapist.
I receive a lot of messages and calls asking “how can I get out of patient care” and do what you do.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you at Therapy Edge Consulting?
As an entrepreneur, there is no typical day!
The majority of days I work longer hours than I did in a standard clinical role, but a significant amount of that time is in content development and project management. Tasks include:
- Creating online content
- Website development
- Talking to clients
- Creating strategic plans
- Staying current on evidence-based research
- My own professional development
What are some of the challenges of your role?
The biggest challenges have been embracing the unknown, and having to let go of a concrete schedule.
There is a framework you operate within, but if you close yourself off to what isn’t on the list or in the plan for the day, you can be missing out on opportunities. Finding a balance has been a challenge, but worth it!
What are the rewards?
The satisfaction of knowing you are still helping people with exponential impact is what inspires me to keep going. To be of service to a community that strives to make people stronger is a humbling experience, and a reward I am eternally grateful for.
How do you think working as a PT prepared you for this role?
The analytical abilities and systems approach to problem solving have been huge in my journey into the consulting world.
The same framework can be applied whether it be consulting/coaching on an individual level, or helping a company streamline a marketing plan. I understand how to approach an assessment from a comprehensive and holistic place.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
During the first year of a start-up, well…let’s just say that the return of ramen is real! Ha-ha! I anticipated this reality and spent time saving beforehand, which helped. I would encourage anyone looking to start out to really set aside solid savings when at all possible.
The revenue generation possibilities are significant when compared to a standard clinical or management role. What you are willing to put in is what you get out.
What type of person do you think would do well as a consultant?
You need to be a well-rounded analytical thinker who has a genuine interest in knowing and helping people. If you are looking for a get rich quick idea, this is not the life choice for you.
You are investing in individuals’ and businesses’ success and there is a great sense of responsibility that should be associated with that. Compassionate but direct communication is also critical.
Do you work remotely or on-site?
I am currently working mostly remotely, but do onsite work as well. Teleconferencing has allowed me to expand my interactions with clients both nationally and internationally!
Does Therapy Edge Consulting hire rehab professionals into non-clinical roles?
It is in our 5-year personnel plan to bring on additional content experts and consultants, but currently we do not have any openings.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
John Maxwell is my favorite leadership guru and I have read nearly all of his books. My absolute favorite book of his and recommendation is the The 360 Degree Leader. It gets you thinking about how to lead those that report to you, yourself, and how to support those that lead you. It’s a great book that gets you into a leadership mindset at the point of life you are in, and gives you a framework to grow on. I’ve gone further on my path with John Maxwell and have joined Maximum Impact Mentoring, which is a monthly mentoring group that he hosts.
What is a typical career path for a consultant?
It can be as big or small as you’d like it to be, and I have not found a common trend of anyone in my network. Healthcare consulting positions do exist with the top consulting firms, and this is always an option for someone looking to get exposure as a consultant but not wanting to establish their own company just yet.
If not, keep an eye on the LinkedIn job boards for consulting positions, and throw your hat in the ring. Having a speciality area of practice or a niche career path does make a difference if you are looking to offer consulting services.
What is next for you?
My goal is to see Therapy Edge Consulting grow and support the next generation of clinicians and leaders!
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours?
You are the one in charge of your destiny! Know what you want, and go fearlessly and limitlessly towards the pursuit of that dream. Block out the negative chatter and just jump in.
There will be no perfect moment or time–you just have to jump! That might sound hokey, but it is true.
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why?
I would like to see the patient be put first again in our healthcare system as a whole. It is heartbreaking to hear young clinicians speak of burn-out and challenging productivity standards when practicing less than a year.
It is a systemic problem, not specific to only the PT/OT/ST profession, but an overall challenge. How to solve this problem? That is an answer I ponder every day.
If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had during your PT school program, what would it be?
You are going to make mistakes–everyone does! So, make them, learn from them, and move forward wiser.
If you could teach anything to today’s graduate students in your profession, what would it be?
Professional development and leadership! You don’t have to be a “manager” to be a leader.
There are so many ways to step up, be a role model, and a visionary. I want to empower the next generation to tap into these dormant skill sets.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
Leadership is a field open to everyone! I would encourage individuals to know the niche area they want to become involved with, and then figure out what certifications will help them be recognized in that area.
You want to offer something above and beyond; certifications help you stand out in that area.
Want to learn more about how to brand yourself and pursue a consulting career of your own? Not only is consulting one of the 25 non-clinical career paths covered in Non-Clinical 101, there’s also a full bonus lesson to help you learn how to attract clients, set your pricing, and much more!