Life as a PT #5: Meredith Castin

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Hey guys! Long time no “Life as a PT”! Today’s guest is not your “traditional” physical therapist. If you are interested in learning about job options outside of clinical care, then keep on reading, this post is perfect for you!

I am so pumped to introduce Dr. Meredith Castin, PT, DPT!

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Meredith Castin is the co-founder of NewGradPhysicalTherapy (NGPT) 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 University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (San Marcos) in 2010. She has worked in outpatient ortho, inpatient rehab, acute care, and home health. By the time she had been working for three years, she had burned out on patient care. She set a goal to treat clinically for five years before leaving patient care to become a copywriter, and that’s exactly what she did. Along the way, she co-founded NewGradPhysicalTherapy (NGPT), became Head of Content at CovalentCareers, and created The Non-Clinical PT. Meredith is passionate about fighting the physical therapy burnout crisis in our profession, and she believes that creating non-clinical options in our profession will enable PTs to find more fulfillment in their careers…and provide physical therapy some much-needed exposure in mainstream culture. In addition, Meredith loves spending time with her husband and 3 cats, and enjoys creating art and weird music.

How did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in physical therapy?

I decided to pursue a career in physical therapy when I was in my mid 20s. I had been working as a hybrid web designer and copywriter at a company that produced medical, dental, and legal websites. I enjoyed the work, but didn’t find it particularly fulfilling. Plus, I missed being in school (for some odd reason, haha)!

At one point, I was being super professional (eye roll) and got drunk at the company party. I thought I could do some gymnastics moves from my more limber days. Unfortunately, that ended up with a tweaked low back, so I finally dragged myself to a physician a few months later and found myself with a script for physical therapy. I was sent to a clinic with an awesome PT, and I made rapid progress. I was so impressed by how physical activity alone could improve what had become a nagging injury, I decided to consider physical therapy as my next career move!

What was your favorite part of PT school?

When I look back, my favorite parts of school were the parts when I was socializing with friends outside of school! I’m just being honest! But I did really enjoy any class that involved writing, which was probably an early sign that I’d wind up returning to my writing roots (:

What type of setting do you work in/What does a typical day look like?

I’m no longer working in a clinical setting. In 2015 (five years after I graduated from PT school), I wound up leaving patient care to pursue my love of writing. I was lucky enough to land a per diem rehab liaison job, which provided me with the flexibility to hone my writing skills on the days I wasn’t working at the hospital. I was also fortunate to team up with a coworker and create NewGradPhysicalTherapy (NGPT), a website devoted to helping newly minted PTs become successful in their careers. I wound up leaving NGPT and its parent company so that I could focus on further honing my writing skills at a digital marketing agency. I knew I’d miss my connection with the PT industry, and on my weekends, I’d been doing some pro bono coaching of other PTs who wanted to leave patient care, so when I started my new job, I launched The Non-Clinical PT, a small passion project dedicated to helping physical therapists leverage their degrees in non-clinical settings. The project has grown immensely since I launched it, and I’m thrilled to have expanded it to offer formalized coaching services, as well as several networking opportunities and career-growth resources. Running The Non-Clinical PT has become more than a passion project, and I see it expanding to become my primary role within the next few months. I am also extremely blessed to have ongoing freelance writing partnerships with several rehab publications, including WebPT and a few others.

What is your favorite thing about the PT profession/your job?

My favorite thing about the physical therapy profession is the people. I have never, ever met such kind, dedicated, and enthusiastic people as I have in the rehabilitation community. I no longer work in clinical care, but I am so grateful for the fact that The Non-Clinical PT enables me to interface with therapists on a regular basis. It keeps me connected to the profession, and reminds me of why I wanted to become a PT in the first place. My favorite thing about The Non-Clinical PT is that I feel like I am making a very real, very positive impact on the physical therapy industry. Many PTs decide they’d like to take a break from patient care at some point, and there’s really no roadmap or blueprint for how to make the switch into a non-clinical role. I have been spending tons of time tracking down PTs who have made the switch (much like I made the switch to writing), and I interview these folks and ask them to share how and why they made the move into their new roles. It has been extremely interesting and rewarding, and my readers’ feedback continually reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to lead this project.

What advice do you have for pre-PT or current DPT students?

For pre-PT and current DPT students, my advice would be to listen to your gut, and forge your own path. Your classmates might be hardcore about pursuing ortho jobs, or obsessed with pediatrics, but you might spend your evenings poring over geriatrics textbooks. You might even spend your nights and weekends reading about social media marketing, and if that’s the case, listen to your gut there, too! In any case, what you love (and what comes easily to you) is what you should pursue in life. Don’t try to fit yourself into a mold because everyone else seems to be taking that path. You’ll be happier if you pursue your passions, and you’ll do a better job with your patients if you’re working in a setting you enjoy.

And if you start to find that patient care isn’t floating your boat, that’s OK, too. PTs who work in non-clinical jobs are doing our profession a favor, by showing the general public who we are, how extensively we’re educated, and how capable we are of leveraging our clinical reasoning skills outside of patient care settings.

If there is anything else you would like to touch on or add, please do so below!

Physical therapy is a profession that is very much in flux at the moment. New graduates have more education than ever before, but they also have to deal with more debt and higher productivity expectations than those before them. The current practice model is not always ideal, and some companies will try to take advantage of new grads by underpaying them or imposing practices that bend the rules of what’s ethical. That’s why you’ll notice quite a few savvy PTs breaking the mold and opening cash-based clinics or pursuing non-clinical roles. If you’re ever asked to perform treatments that feel unsafe or unethical, remember that there are other options out there. For every sketchy clinic, there are plenty of other ones that won’t put you in compromising situations. Stand your ground, and resolve to only work in facilities that make you feel proud to be a PT. I guess this all goes back to trusting your gut (:

I want to give a big thank you to Meredith for taking the time to share her life and experiences with us. I hope y’all enjoyed reading about Meredith’s “Life as a (Non-Clinical) PT”! If you’d like to learn more about Meredith, you can connect with her through her website, on Facebook, or on Instagram @thenonclinicalpt!

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If you are a practicing PT and would like to be featured in my next post (or if you know any PTs that would be interested), please please email me at thecurlyclinician@gmail.com! The more the merrier! If you missed the last “Life as a PT” post, feel free to check that out! Make sure that you are on my email list so that you are the first to know about the next featured PT!

❤️

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