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Life of a PTA

The Productivity Push

Published June 13, 2014 10:06 AM by Allison Young

Once upon a time, not but a short few months ago, I worked in a large corporate-run skilled nursing facility where the productivity of the rehab staff was considered top priority. Even above the recovery of the patients, you may ask? Almost -- with productivity expectations a very close second. Every week our rehab meeting would lead with our director addressing our "team" productivity percentage average.

My days were spent running from one patient to another -- furiously, scheduling my patients back-to-back, so I would only "lose" 2-5 minutes between each treatment session. An unexpected family visit or unscheduled out-of-facility MD appointment for one of my patients could sabotage my productivity for the day. I would half-joke with my colleagues that I could pinpoint the exact time of day when my productivity dropped from 90 to 70%.

With that type of atmosphere, I would get anxious during my "downtime" between treatments, sometimes breaking off a quick casual conversation with a patient or family member because I had to track down my next patient. When spending just a few extra minutes with a person can be the highlight of his session or at the very least build a rapport of trust.

You can imagine my shock when I began my current job at another skilled nursing/long-term care facility where I was told productivity was not their driving focus. Due to the fact that this rehab department was "in transition" -- the expectation was to deliver quality therapy as they build up their rehab unit over the next few months. As the only PTA and one of only three therapists making up the team, there's still quite a lot of building to be done.

Although I don't have the "productivity police" looming over my head on a daily basis anymore, I continue to be shrewd with my timing and often feel my pulse quicken when a treatment is delayed unexpectedly. I have no doubt when the new rehab department is in full swing and the gym is bustling with patients and therapists, our productivity will be scrutinized more than it is now. But until then, I'll enjoy rapport-building and helping patients reach their goals vs. my minutes reaching 90%.

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Allison, the courage it takes to put your own name on something written is something rarely seen. I would know. Thank you for this.

Barrett Dorko, Physical Therapy - Self-employed, many June 14, 2014 12:19 PM
Cuyahoga Falls OH


This is a good way to tell if you work FOR the company versus WITH the company.  A company you work with strives to develop you and your professional skills and they won't push the productivity standard every week.  You will hear about it but it will never be the focus of a meeting.

As you probably know, reimbursements are going to increase slightly for Medicare so productivity standards should be lowered, right?  But don't count on it.  

Jason Marketti June 13, 2014 10:31 PM

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