The Physical Therapist’s Professional Compass

We’re humans… we make snap decisions based on limited amounts of information. What immediately comes to your mind if you hear a physical therapist practices in a hospital setting? What immediately comes to your mind if you hear a physical therapist practices in a private practice? Do I dare ask what you immediately think if the physical therapist teaches at a university? I bet you’ve made a snap decision about your colleague. Your impression could be right or it could be wrong.

I have a feeling any snap decision is based on the perceptions of how a physical therapist practices in various settings. In other words, we make a leap of a decision based on what we think we know about various practice settings. And this leap of a decision is based on how patients enter the setting… the differences in rules and regulations for each setting… the type of patients in the setting… the various pressures within each setting that influence clinician’s decisions.

You know what our profession doesn’t have? It doesn’t have a simple, readily understood and livable compass.

What factors should guide a physical therapist no matter the setting? I’m thinking something along these lines:


Should physical therapists want the yellow needle pointing in a particular direction? If the needle isn’t in the desired direction, what actions should a physical therapist take? If the majority of physical therapists kept the needle pointing in the desired direction, would our snap decisions change? Would a guiding compass affect our profession?

Does a compass matter?

Until next time,


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