The benefits (and challenges) of starting your Physiotherapy career in private practice

Travis Kluckhenn
by Travis Kluckhenn

So you’re about to graduate as a Physiotherapist and it’s time to start thinking about the best way to launch your career. With plenty of options available to you it’s not an easy decision to make. In this blog we try to answer the following most frequently asked questions that we hear from Physio students and new graduates about working in private practice, including – 

 

What’s it like working as a Physiotherapist in private practice? 

How do you get paid in private practice as a Physiotherapist?

Is there a career pathway for a Physiotherapist in private practice?

What’s the BIGGEST CHALLENGE working in private practice?

 

What’s it like working as a Physiotherapist in private practice?

 

It’s incredibly rewarding working in private practice. Working with people motivated to get better and seeing the impact you can have on their lives is one of the most satisfying things you can do! However, Physiotherapists working in private practice, particularly musculoskeletal (or sports) private practice, are presented with unique challenges every day, some of which are not what you would expect when you start your career.

 

Some of the challenges physiotherapists face include patients not doing their exercises, running late for appointments or missing them altogether, and even more challenging scenarios like patients who don’t make progress in their recovery because they’re under pressure from other factors in life such as stress at work or lack of sleep. However, like anything, overcoming these challenges and seeing your patients lead better lives as a result of your treatment and guidance is an amazing feeling!

 

Private practice is a great place to learn too. There are some of the best and most skilled Physiotherapists in private practice, who love mentoring, teaching new techniques, discussing cases, and helping young or less experienced physios develop their clinical reasoning skills.

 

Many private practices now have decent sized gyms & pilates spaces with modern equipment, which allows Physios to practice and experiment with different exercises and pilates routines, but also learn how to combine their manual therapy with gym-based exercise & pilates. This set up is not always available in other areas of work for physio’s.

 

Gym & pilates spaces are a great place to practice and learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilates Reformer Inservice Pathways Physio

 

 

 

How do you get paid in private practice as a Physiotherapist?

 

The last of the sub contractors, who worked for commission only and got no leave entitlements or superannuation are finally disappearing, thank goodness!

Private practices are looking to attract new graduates by offering attractive base salaries with all the benefits, such as superannuation, annual and sick leave entitlements, along with generous professional development allowances. Which provides new graduates with security as they learn to grow a caseload.  

Many practices will offer bonuses or commission payments as well as their base salary, that benefit those who are able to build their caseload quickly. 

 

Here’s an example of what you can earn starting out in private practice –

 

A typical new graduate physio base wage in private practice is $60,000. 

When you add in the other benefits including 10% superannuation and a CPD (clinical professional development) allowance of $1500, you’re now looking at an annual salary package of $67,500 for a new graduate Physiotherapist in private practice.

 

Now consider a scenario where a new grad Physio is paid either their annual salary  OR 37.5% commission (a typical commission for a new grad) depending on whichever is greater!

 

With an average weekly caseload of 40 appointments, and with an average fee of $85 per appointment, getting paid 37.5% commission would lead to an annual salary of $74,430 for a new grad in private practice!

And if you saw 45 clients per week, you’re looking at earning $83,546

And you you really built up your caseload to 50 clients per week, you’d be looking at $92,662!

 

See the calculations below – 

40 appointments x $85 avg fee x 52 weeks x 37.5% = $66300

Plus 10% super and $1500 CPD allowance = $74430

 

45 appointments x $85 avg fee x 52 weeks x 37.5% 

= $83, 546 per year including super and CPD allowance!

 

50 appointments x $85 x 52 x 37.5% = $92662 per year including super and CPD allowance!

 

What this means is that you can earn between $80,000 – 100,000, in private practice by your second or third year, as your caseload grows and your commission percentage increases.

 

Is there a Career Pathway for a Physio in private practice?

 

Historically, one of the biggest drawbacks about going into private practice was a lack of opportunity for career development. Most physios would graduate and start treating clients without any opportunities to move up in the business or progress their skillset, until now.

Clinics are starting to offer a variety of career pathways to promote professional and personal growth, and to allow for work flexibility. This can help provide a new sense of purpose and fulfilment in the lives of their physio’s.

Now there are great opportunities for young physio’s that eventually want to lead a therapy team, supervise students, manage and create social media content, or even if they just want to have more flexibility whilst they travel or start a family. The opportunities are there now because good private practices genuinely want the individuals on their teams to thrive!

 

What’s the BIGGEST CHALLENGE working in private practice?

 

The biggest challenge about working in private practice is that we come out of University with the expectation to simply apply evidence-based treatments, and get great results with our patients …….. but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen, and when it does clients don’t always get better as quickly or fully as expected. The reality is that every single person coming through your doors has their own expectations for what they want from therapy – because of this biopsychosocial differences come into play and some people respond better on average then others.

However, this isn’t necessarily such a bad thing! …..

The best thing we’ve come to learn over the past few years is that how we interact with our patients – the way we welcome them with a smile, the questions we ask, how we listen and the way we show empathy, understanding and care – goes a long way to helping our clients to achieve their outcomes. So be nice to them, show that you genuinely care, and they will be more likely to do the things you ask to get their ideal outcome. 

These days our patients are often dealing with a lot in their lives. They also have more treatment options than ever. The therapist that is able to show how much they care, before showing off how much they know, will always have an advantage and get the best outcomes with their clients.

 

For more information on what it’s like to start your career in private practice at Pathways Physiotherapy, check our our “Join our Team” page

Travis is a Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Director of Pathways Physiotherapy, and Private Practice & Pilates studio in Ferntree Gully.