The demands of a physical therapist are overwhelming at times. It’s a fast-paced role that requires you to constantly interface with patients, navigate paperwork, ensure compliance, continue your education, and provide tailored care to every patient—and do it all with a smile. So when you feel like your job is getting ahead of you, it can feel a lot like failure. But are you actually crushing it? What makes a good physical therapist great?

It’s certainly not a role for the weak. And since you’re so busy caring for others, it’s no wonder you haven’t taken a step back to revel in the bigger picture of your accomplishments. But that stops here—check out these five signs that you’re a good Physical Therapist.

1. You Get a Ton of Word of Mouth Referrals

Word of mouth is one of the greatest forms of flattery. It’s a direct recommendation from a family or friend to someone they know. They’re not going to put their own name and reputation on the line if they don’t think you were worth your salt!

When you get a referral, that’s something to celebrate. And when you consistently get lots of referrals, that’s crystal clear evidence that you’re doing it all right.

Know that getting referrals is not an accident. People make referrals based on a range of things, including:

  • Stellar patient service
  • Great patient outcomes
  • Honest, transparent pricing and explanation of services
  • Clean, inviting facilities
  • Ease of communication

As a physical therapist, you have a lot of influence over these things. Your demeanor, your techniques, the way you speak to and connect with each patient, and your approach to care say a lot about you, not just your clinic. So, take every referral as the ultimate compliment.

2. You Get Called Out By Name in Positive Online Reviews

Your clinic’s marketing team knows how valuable online reviews can be. Reviews are like the digital form of word-of-mouth marketing, except instead of coming from people you know, they are anonymous, candid recommendations. Anyone can leave a star rating and review on your clinic’s Google My Business or Facebook page, for example, and anyone else can read those reviews and learn about other people’s experiences with your clinic.

So when you’re called out by name from patients you’ve helped, don’t take it with a grain of salt. In fact, do the opposite of taking it lightly—let it send you straight up to Cloud 9!

You, the physical therapist, need to recognize the value in online reviews just as much as your marketing team does. They boost not only your clinic’s reputation but also your own when patients include your name. Plus, a 2022 report from BrightLocal found that nearly half of internet users trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a family or friend. It’s like a word-of-mouth referral that works for you 24/7.

Your approach to patients and their care is some of the best marketing your clinic will ever have. It’s pure proof that you’re the person that patients should trust when their livelihoods depend on it. And when you get your patients back on their feet and feeling great, they won’t hesitate to call you out by name (in a totally good way!).

3. Your Patient Outcomes and NPS Scores Are Exceptional

If you really need a vote of confidence, look no further than the patients you’ve been helping. They wouldn’t have made all that progress if they didn’t have a great physical therapist on their side. When you make your patients feel like a priority, they’re more likely to stick with their program of care and “graduate.” It really helps your Net Promoter Score (NPS) when your patients aren’t switching providers.

You can also look at your merit-based incentive payments (MIPS) and value-based care for physical therapy to support patient outcomes and NPS scores. Both MIPS and value-based care look at the quality of care that patients receive. Your incentive payments are directly tied to the quality of care you provide your patients. So, if you’re hitting the mark earning your incentives like a boss, you’re on the right track.

4. You’re Well Respected Among Your Peers

Respect is earned, not given. This is true whether you’re a physical therapist, college professor, or rodeo cowboy. You earn respect by the way you treat others. When you’re in the profession of caring, where your entire career is built on helping others, respect carries a lot of weight.

Respect coming from your peers is a huge compliment. Other professionals know the demands of your work. They know how to do your job as well as you do. In short, they know a good physical therapist when they see one. And if they respect you, you know you’ve truly made it.

How do you know if you’re well respected among your peers?

Simple. They’ll include you in conversations. They’ll ask you for help or advice. They’ll share information with you, both about the world of physical therapy and even their lives outside of the clinic. Lots of people expect respect, but it’s a whole new feeling of good when you know you’ve earned it.

5. Your Churn Rate Is Really Low

No matter the problems your patients expect you to solve, not all of them will finish their care. In fact, this survey shows that one in six patients will quit PT after their first visit. And nearly half won’t finish their program.

If your churn rate is low, though, it means your patients are beating these statistics. They’re sticking with their programs, and a rockstar PT has a lot to do with that. Let’s face it: no one really wants to go through PT. But they do want the outcomes that PT can deliver, so they muster through if they think it can really help them. When you work closely with patients throughout their journeys, make it fun, and show them how much progress they’re making, they’re more likely to see it through.

So don’t be afraid to accept some praise and give yourself credit—you’re doing better than you think!


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