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Navigating the Path to Mentorship in Physical Therapy

Hey there, aspiring physical therapists! So, you're embarking on your journey into the world of physical therapy, eager to soak up knowledge, gain experience, and make a difference in people's lives. But here's the thing: you don't have to navigate this path alone. In fact, finding a great physical therapy mentor can be one of the most valuable investments you'll make in your career. So, let's dive into the art of mentorship and uncover the secrets to finding your perfect mentor.

I. Understanding the Role of a Physical Therapy Mentor

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of finding a mentor, let's take a moment to understand what a mentor actually does. A physical therapy mentor is more than just a teacher or advisor—they're a guiding light, a source of wisdom, and a cheerleader all rolled into one. They offer support, encouragement, and invaluable insights gleaned from years of experience in the field. That's why organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offer mentorship resources to help aspiring PTs find their perfect match.

II. Identifying Criteria for a Great Physical Therapy Mentor

Now that we know the importance of mentorship, let's talk about what to look for in a mentor. When it comes to finding a great physical therapy mentor, it's all about finding someone who ticks all the boxes: experience, expertise, and empathy. You want someone who's been there, done that, and is willing to share their wisdom with you. And don't forget about compatibility—your mentor should be someone you click with on a personal level, someone you feel comfortable opening up to and seeking advice from.

III. Strategies for Finding a Mentor in Physical Therapy

So, now that you know what you're looking for in a mentor, how do you actually go about finding one? Well, there are a few different approaches you can take. One option is to reach out to your school's faculty members or clinical supervisors—they often have connections to experienced PTs who may be willing to mentor you. Another option is to join mentorship programs offered by organizations like Physical Therapy Mentor, which match mentees with mentors based on shared interests and goals. And let's not forget about the power of networking—attending conferences, workshops, and industry events can help you expand your professional circle and connect with potential mentors.

IV. Approaching and Building Relationships with Potential Mentors

Once you've identified some potential mentors, the next step is to reach out and start building relationships. This can be a bit daunting at first, but remember: most people are flattered to be asked to be a mentor. So don't be afraid to send that email or LinkedIn message introducing yourself and expressing your interest in their work. Be genuine, be respectful, and be clear about what you hope to gain from the mentorship relationship. And don't forget to follow up and stay in touch—building a mentorship relationship takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it.

V. Maintaining and Growing the Mentorship Relationship

Congratulations, you've found yourself a mentor! But the journey doesn't end there. Now it's time to nurture and grow your mentorship relationship. Keep the lines of communication open, seek feedback and advice regularly, and show your appreciation for your mentor's time and expertise. And remember, mentorship is a two-way street—be open to learning from your mentor, but also be willing to share your own insights and experiences. By investing in your mentorship relationship, you'll not only grow as a physical therapist but also forge a lifelong professional connection.

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Mentorship

In conclusion, finding a great physical therapy mentor can be a game-changer in your educational and professional journey. By understanding the role of a mentor, identifying your criteria, and leveraging effective strategies, you can find the perfect mentor to guide you along the way. So don't be afraid to reach out, make connections, and invest in your mentorship relationship. Your future self will thank you for it.

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About Sebastian Stoltzfus

Sebastian Stoltzfus
I'm an ICU physical therapist practicing in Dallas, Texas. I love reading, lifting, hunting and the Pacific coast of Mexico.


  1. Clinton Boone

    Awesome article Seb! Thanks for all the info.

  2. Sebastian Stoltzfus

    Thank you Clinton. I hope it is helpful for all my colleagues out there.

  3. Katie Franklin

    Thanks for the article! Pending successful completion of the NPTE, I’ll be starting out as an ICU/acute care therapist in August. I’m so excited to be part of a mobility-friendly facility — I’ve seen the other side of the aisle as a student on rotation, and the overall QOC provided to those patients is vastly different. Way to encourage mobility advocacy!

  4. Sebastian Stoltzfus

    Thanks for your comment Katie. The ICU can be an inspiring place to work. I also know the other side of the coin exists where patients are pretty much chained to their bed. No matter where you end up, I hope you’ll keep fighting the good fight. Take care

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