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The 5 Types of PTs Every New Grad Will Encounter

There are many types of PTs out there. PTs are pretty awesome, and there’s no such thing as a typical PT. But there are certainly a few types to look out for when you’re a new grad. These 5 types of PTs will certainly keep life interesting, even if they can be a bit of a handful at times.

The 5 types of PTs every new grad will encounter

1. The “know-it-all” PT

Don’t we all know one of these! These fine ladies and gents absolutely thrive on pointing out our mistakes…typically in front of our patients or our managers. “Know-it-all” PTs usually have a few years of experience under their belts, but you’ll run across a rogue new grad ‘know-it-all” here and there.

The funny thing about “know-it-all” PTs is that some are evidence-based, while others aren’t. Haters gonna hate, and if you’re unlucky enough to land in a clinic with Judgy McBetterThanYou, try to take the high ground.

Here’s a great article about politely taking feedback from more experienced PTs.

2. The “superhuman” PT

The “superhuman” PT is the physical therapist who treats total assist ICU patients alone. He or she will manage to see other therapists’ caseloads in half the time, and will often help out PTs whose schedules are unwieldy. Superhuman PTs are typically unfathomably petite, yet they never get injured on the job.

Occasionally, you will find a version of the “superhuman” PT who seems beyond gait belts, assistive devices, and other safety equipment.

Word of advice: if you’re a per diem or haven’t worked with these patients before, always use your best judgment and use safety equipment with them until they demonstrate the ability to mobiilize safely without it. You’re doing your patients and your license a favor!

3. The “Casey” PT

“Caseys” come in both male and female versions.

Bouncing, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and perfect, the “Casey” is always there to remind us that our difficult patients are all in our imaginations. Staying late to document? Casey can’t understand how you don’t get all your charting done while you’re seeing patients! The “Casey” is typically adored by all patients and managers, yet slightly off-putting to co-workers, only because he or she is so dang perfect!  Why can’t we be “Casey”???

The female “Casey” is often spotted breezing through outpatient ortho clinics with her plate of freshly-baked brownies bequeathed by her lovestruck patient. But you can’t hate her because she’ll share those cookies with the rest of the team.The rest of the team who got no cookies of their own 🙁 Casey is happy to share with the team. After all, she eats vegan, gluten-free, sustainably-sourced, and only from her own pesticide-free garden. And she’s got a marathon this weekend, so she really shouldn’t have any sugar…

The male version of the “Casey” is similarly flawless. Tall, strong, and athletic, the male Casey has aspirations to own his own cash-based CrossFit PT practice. All the little old ladies sure love Casey and, even though he ingests ungodly amounts of homemade brownies gifted by Myrtle and Gertrude, he always maintains his Adonis-like physique. And gosh, once in awhile, he just has to accidentally flip his polo up a tad so his legions of elderly admirers get a peek of that six-pack 😉

types of pts

4. The “bleeding heart” PT

The bleeding heart PT can often be heard sobbing with patients as they share their tales of breakup, illness, or other forms of despair. Sensitive and empathetic, bleeding heart PTs will often treat patients longer than they should, and will frequently “spend an extra 5 minutes of manual” massaging patients’ necks when they slept wrong, even when they’re being seen for TKAs.

You can spot the bleeding heart PT giving out his or her cellphone number to patients “in case they need anything” and posting GoFundMe pages for patients on weekends. You might also spot an excessively bleeding heart PT stalking his or her patients on Facebook.

In rare cases, one might even see a bleeding heart on a date with a patient! Uh oh….

type of PT

5. The “burned out” PT

Lord knows, we’ve all known a burned out physical therapist or two, sometimes before we’re even done with school. In fact, physical therapy burnout is one of the biggest problems facing our profession today, so I almost didn’t include this type of PT on the list.

But I couldn’t resist because there’s a type of burned out PT we’ll all encounter. The one who simply stops caring.

These types of PTs have infectiously negative attitudes. It’s all fine and good to get burned out, but if it happens, you need to address it. Take a vacation, change jobs, go per diem, or try out something non-clinical for awhile.

6. The “work spouse” or “bestie” PT

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a BFF at work. I found a pretty incredible work wife at my first PT job, and it helped make the transition from student to PT so much easier because we were both new grads. She’s now a badass robotics PT at suitX. Check out what they’re doing to improve mobility for SCI patients!

Your “work bestie” will share the highs and the lows with you, and will become a lifelong friend. Cherish your “work spouse” because eventually, one of you will likely leave.

Any types of PTs we left out? Share in the comments below!

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About Meredith Victor Castin

Meredith Victor Castin
Meredith is the co-founder of NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com and the founder of The Non-Clinical PT. She is originally from Tyler, TX and attended UPenn for undergrad, before graduating with her DPT from USA (San Diego) in 2010. She has worked in outpatient ortho, inpatient rehab, acute care, and home health. She loves spending time with her husband and 3 cats, and enjoys creating art and weird music.

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