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5 Reasons New Grad PT's Should Consider A Rural Setting

Are you a recent physical therapy graduate, eager to make your mark in the field? If so, you might be wondering where to begin your career journey. While urban settings often steal the spotlight, there's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered—rural practice. In this article, we'll explore the top five reasons why new grad PTs should consider embracing the challenges and rewards of rural practice. So, grab your stethoscope and let's dive into the world of rural healthcare!

Access to Diverse Patient Populations

Picture this: a quaint rural town nestled amidst rolling hills and lush greenery. In this picturesque setting, you'll encounter a diverse tapestry of patients—from young athletes with sports injuries to elderly residents seeking rehabilitation after joint surgeries. By practicing in a rural setting, new grad PTs have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience working with a wide range of patient demographics and conditions. From orthopedic cases to neurological rehabilitation, every day brings a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow as a clinician. Check out the American Physical Therapy Association's resources on rural health to learn more about the unique patient populations found in rural areas.

Opportunity for Professional Growth and Autonomy

Imagine being the go-to expert in your community—the trusted healthcare provider who makes a real difference in people's lives. In rural practice, new grad PTs often have the chance to take on leadership roles and make meaningful contributions to patient care. With fewer colleagues and resources available, you'll be called upon to exercise your clinical judgment, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities on a daily basis. From designing treatment plans to collaborating with interdisciplinary teams, rural practice offers new grad PTs the autonomy and responsibility to thrive and grow as healthcare professionals. Dive deeper into the opportunities for professional growth in rural settings with resources from the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

Enhanced Work-Life Balance and Quality of Life

Say goodbye to the hustle and bustle of city life and hello to a more relaxed pace in rural practice. In rural settings, new grad PTs often enjoy a better work-life balance and a higher quality of life. With lower living costs, shorter commutes, and access to nature's playground right outside your doorstep, rural practice offers the opportunity to prioritize your well-being and pursue personal interests outside of work. Whether it's hiking through scenic trails, fishing in crystal-clear lakes, or simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of small-town living, rural practice allows new grad PTs to live life to the fullest.

Loan Repayment and Financial Incentives

Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic—student loans. If you're like most recent PT graduates, you're probably facing a mountain of student debt. But here's the good news—rural practice often comes with financial incentives and loan repayment programs that can help alleviate the burden of student loans. Through programs like the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, new grad PTs have the opportunity to receive financial assistance in exchange for serving in underserved rural communities. Not only does this provide much-needed financial relief, but it also allows new grad PTs to make a meaningful impact on the health and well-being of underserved populations.

Sense of Community and Fulfillment

Last but certainly not least, practicing in a rural setting offers new grad PTs a strong sense of community and fulfillment. In small towns where everyone knows your name, you'll build meaningful connections with patients, colleagues, and community members alike. Whether it's sharing stories over a cup of coffee at the local diner or celebrating victories at community events, rural practice fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging that's hard to find elsewhere. By serving in rural communities, new grad PTs have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in people's lives and leave a lasting legacy of health and wellness.

In conclusion, while rural practice may not be the first choice for every new grad PT, it offers a unique set of opportunities and rewards that are worth considering. From diverse patient populations to professional growth, financial incentives, and a strong sense of community, rural practice has much to offer aspiring physical therapists. So, before you make your next career move, take a moment to explore the possibilities that rural practice has to offer—you might just find your calling in the heart of the countryside.



About the author: Dr. Jared Vagy is a Physical Therapist, a professor at the University of Southern California (USC) and an authority on climbing related injuries. He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from USC. He is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist from the American Physical Therapy Association. He has over ten years of climbing experience and has climbed all over the world. Climbing and injury prevention are his passions and he is committed to combining the two.



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