Administrative considerations for orthopaedic physical therapy clinics

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For many, the practice of management, although offering significant challenges, involves a set of duties and responsibilities for which they have had prior training. Through college or advanced seminar courses, these individuals have had the opportunity to understand the tremendous range of tasks that management requires. In the clinical setting, it is not nearly as common for physical therapy professionals to have had the background and training in management that is needed if orthopaedic physical therapy clinics are to realize to the full degree the twin objectives of efficiency and effectiveness. This observation is not intended as a criticism of the training that physical therapy professionals receive as part of their education requirements. Rather it points to a phenomenon that affects medical professionals in all fields: the realization that their technical mastery does not, of itself, guarantee the success of their clinical practice. More is required-the ability to understand and employ effective management practices. Many physical therapy professionals have, in the past, been content to leave these 'managerial' duties to some designated office manager who is given the responsibility to oversee the office staff, accountants, and other administrative processes. To a point, this division of labor between office administration and clinical practice makes good sense: Physical therapists should not be overburdened with a breadth of duties that can potentially interfere with providing optimal care. The danger in physical therapy professionals' willingness to abrogate themselves totally from the managerial functions lies in the fact that, as this article has demonstrated, management is not simply the administration of an office. It requires the vision to plan for the future, the ability to function as a leader, the tact and sensitivity to create an environment in which workers feel valued and useful, and the care to create oversight and control mechanisms to ensure optimum patient care. These duties must be shouldered by physical therapy professionals to as great a degree, if not more so, than by anyone else in the clinic. This article has taken some elementary steps in the direction of offering a unifying framework for the management of orthopaedic physical therapy clinics. For some readers, this article offers a refreshing overview of activities in which they already engage, reinforcing their importance for physical therapy clinic success. For others, this article calls their attention, perhaps for the first time, to an additional role that they are finding themselves forced more and more to consider: that of the physical therapy professional and clinic manager.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalOrthopaedic Physical Therapy Clinics of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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