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  • Caitlin Walker

How the heck did Dr. C go from being a PT to a business leader?

How did you go from being a clinician to working in business leadership?


Many people who have met me in the past ~5 years don’t realize that I’m also a physical therapist, but when they do, I often get some version of that question.


There are SO many skills that I honed as a physical therapist (and as a dance instructor) that I carried into my future roles, but let’s walk through a typical Physical Therapy evaluation process:


1️⃣ Referral

Many patients enter care through referral from another provider, such as their primary care or specialty physician.  Physical therapists review referral orders that may have a highly specific diagnosis, surgical reports, recommended protocols, and radiographic imaging.  Sometimes they simply say “leg pain.” 😂 


2️⃣ History & Current Complaint Interview

The PT reviews any provided documentation and  interviews the patient to understand their previous medical history, previous surgical history, and current medications.  We also discuss what their current issues are and what resources and barriers they may have.


3️⃣ Physical Assessment 

The PT measures the range of motion, strength, and overall functional mobility of the patient’s areas of complaint (and the ones that may be contributing to them) with a mix of hands-on measurement, observations, and standardized self-report tools.


4️⃣ Plan Development & Goal Setting

By combining clinical judgment, patient values, and functional benchmarks, a PT will set short-term and long-term goals with set target dates and objective measurables with additional details on the specific approaches and interventions that will be used to achieve them.


5️⃣ Documentation & Communication 

Every element of the evaluation and the plan of action is carefully documented and communicated to the patient, their referring provider, and their insurance provider as applicable.


As a leader, consultant, and coach I often use a similar systems-thinking approach to providing diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plans, and outcomes assessments to businesses and professionals:


1️⃣ Referral

I ended up working with you for a reason.  So, what is the narrative or paradigm that people are currently working within?  


2️⃣ History & Current Complaint Interview

How did we get here?  What are the people most impacted by the concerns most pained with?  What resources do we have?


3️⃣ Physical Assessment

Get into the numbers.  What are we tracking? Why are we tracking it?  How do the various measurements relate to each other? How do they compare to what we would expect to find? 


4️⃣ Plan Development & Goal Setting

How do we get from where we are today to where we want to be?  How long will that take?  What tools and approaches should we use? How will we know we’re making progress?  When do we report our progress?


5️⃣ Documentation & Communication 

If I build it, it will be codified, tracked, and reported and educated on!



I didn’t leave full-time clinical care because I dislike the work or don’t have the skillset; I left because I wanted to be able to apply my clinical skills in conjunction with the many others I’ve developed along the way to deliver a broader impact for organizations and communities.  I wanted to not just resource one person at a time, but to serve as a multiplier of good throughout the social impact landscape.


And if you made it this far down this post, hopefully you’ve gained some insights into my personal journey, how I can help “treat” your problem areas, and how you may have more transferable skills than you think!






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