Health News

Making the Most of Your First Therapy Job

Every spring, a new wave of therapists finishes up training and begins the process of building a career. They are physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc., looking for permanent positions or locum tenens assignments. Their annual search for that first therapy job often comes with high expectations as well. So what happens when expectations are not met?

Healthcare is not any different when it comes to recent graduates having to take the least desirable jobs in order to gain the knowledge and experience to move up the career ladder. New nurses often have to go to work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. New doctors may have to take a rural job or one with the least attractive schedule. Sometimes therapists have to work in environments that do not sit well with them

Well, here’s the dirty little secret every therapist should know before taking that first job: it will be what you make it. That first job can be an incredible experience that sets a therapist’s career on an upward trajectory. But a proper mindset is key.

Look at It as More Training

There is nothing quite like on-the-job training to help a new therapist get his or her feet wet. If that first job is less than ideal, make a point of approaching it as further training. A willingness to learn everything possible during that first experience will add to the therapist’s body of knowledge. That knowledge can be carried into a second job, and a third, and so on.

Treat It Like an Adventure

One of the most rewarding aspects of therapy work is the new challenge every day brings. No two days are the same because no two patients are the same. Why not use that reality to approach a first therapy job as an adventure? Why not view that first job as a way to prove that what was learned in formal training can actually be implemented in practice?

Exhibiting an adventurous spirit not only helps the new therapist maintain a positive outlook but it also encourages patients to be positive as well. That makes for better attitudes, better outcomes, and greater satisfaction.

Be Willing to Do Anything

What sets achievers apart from non-achievers? In any industry, it is usually a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Therapy work certainly qualifies. New therapists willing to do whatever it takes are likely to find themselves offered more and better opportunities to contribute. They find that management is more willing to trust them, and more willing to come to them when a special need comes up.

Consider Taking Locum Work

Locum tenens opportunities abound for therapists of all kinds. What new therapists might not know is that locum work is one way to embrace many kinds of therapy jobs before deciding on a career path. Consider locum tenens work as ‘try before you buy’, if you will.

A new therapist fresh out of school may not be able to find a permanent position he or she is willing to take. Fair enough. But perhaps delving right into permanent placement isn’t the right way to go. Working for a year or two as a locum can really open a therapist’s eyes to what is actually out there. More than one therapist has used locum work to create a career blueprint.

That first therapy job may not be all the new therapist hoped it would be. But it will always become whatever the therapist makes it. The right mindset and a willingness to work hard can make an okay job great.