The lifestyle physio – The rise of part time, freelance and contract work

lifestyle physio

There’s something special about waking up every morning knowing that you will be helping someone today. Out of all the hundreds of fields you could have studied in, you chose physio. You are inherently a person that enjoys improving the wellbeing of others and you have empathy.

But after 8-10 years of worrying about everyone else, the creeping realisation that you may be stuck in a career that is failing to look after you like you are looking after your patients starts to burden you. Your thumbs and your back are becoming tired and you hate yourself for not putting in the same effort as you once had. According to research the highest rate of physiotherapist attrition is between 5-15 years post-graduation. So strangely from an outsider’s point of view this seems weird (study 4-5 years to drop out of the profession in almost the same amount of time). But digging a little deeper its easy to see the industry is riddled with false promises, underpaid (sometimes illegally) staff, dead ends and burn out.

Beneath all the altruism and empathy is a person, a professional in need of something more. career goals and ambition outside of merit increases and promotions by length of stay not level of performance. And a resultant vector (if you will) is the absolute and total saturation of private practices in the community. In most parts of Australia there are as many private physiotherapy practices as there are GP practices. So, we are left with what? An oversaturated market with overcapitalised business owners, hardly any consumer demand and high level of confusion in the difference between a highly trained evidence-based practitioner and their non-category competitors like Osteo and Chiro.

And all physios, sort of know that this is the case but continue the cycle and buy into this struggle of a life as a physio and then, as it seems, drop out and start something new. My biggest question to you today is what are you doing about it? More often than not we like to accept life as it is and the market dictates our behaviour. The average wage for a physio in Australia is $64 000 annually and the top 10% only are making over $90 000 per year ( Let that sink in for a little bit.

Now I know that we don’t do everything for just financial reward, but we also need to put food on the table, pay the mortgage etc. As a physio there are plenty of ways to make more if that’s really what you want to do and to be fair most full-time jobs in other industries aren’t exactly 9-5 so you could do overtime, work weekends etc. But what if you could dictate the terms of how you work in this landscape? What if you didn’t need to get stuck in a system of brutal billing targets every single day of the year? Or fight for a spot at a hospital to then realise your 4-5 years of training really doesn’t put you anywhere on the food chain? What if you could completely redesign the experience of working as a physio? What if you could make the same money, work less and learn more than you ever have or will across multiple workplaces?

Introducing you! The Lifestyle Physio. Reimagine yourself waking up now, but instead of thinking about how quickly you need to throw on your polo shirt and running shoes to get to the private practice (where you are clearly underpaid), think about the long breakfast you’ll have with your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your dog, your pet mouse. Think about how good the surf is this morning and that you’ll be out there. Think about how good it feels to be at the top of the mountain after a long morning bike ride. Think about how good it is to sleep in after whisky tasting night at the hipster AF bar you went to last night. Think about how great it is that you are waking up in another city because you are travelling Australia (and potentially the world) working as a physio. Think about the days you’ll have free to spend with family, work on yourself (professionally and personally), design that physio product you think needs to exist, arranging bouquets or baking wedding cakes because that’s your absolute love and passion. Think about how you’ll constantly be engaged working across multiple fields and will always be learning. Think about that, just for a second, and download the Lokko app. You will not look back.

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