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Toni Talks about PT Today

Having a Second Job

Published November 20, 2012 11:51 AM by Toni Patt

In a recent blog for ADVANCE, Jason Marketti talks about having several per diem jobs to help him afford large purchases. That reminded me of when I used to do the same thing. I can remember when most of my coworkers worked a few extra days. No one did it regularly, or if they did, not for very long. That isn't true today. Almost every therapist I know has a second job to help pay bills. I know two PTAs who work a full-time job and both weekend days every week. I don't know how they avoid burnout.

I don't know what changed. Things are certainly more expensive. Salaries haven't kept up with the cost of living. Starting salaries might be higher but the raises are much less. I can remember when I could expect a 3- to 5-percent increase. Now, 1 or 2 percent is more common.

It's also harder to find extra work. I've been looking. There are a few supplemental positions advertised but not many. Maybe facilities cut out weekend coverage as a cost-saving measure. Depending on the setting, working weekends is the expectation. Five or six years ago, I was a manager. Finding weekend coverage was an ongoing struggle because no one wanted to work extra. That doesn't seem to be the case now.

My friends who work contract tell me they aren't working regularly. Some are lucky to get 40 hours a week. Facilities aren't using contract help like they once did. Now they make do if someone is off instead of finding coverage. Meanwhile the people who would have filled those openings struggle to make ends meet.

I wonder how this is affecting patient care. I can't imagine patients are getting the same care if weekend therapy no longer exists. I wonder how SNFs and rehab units are making their minutes without weekends. Ironically, the research is supporting better outcomes with more consistent therapy at every level.

There are so many different elements to this equation it's hard to separate them. The reality is most PTs and PTAs work two jobs by necessity, not by choice. Lately, those second jobs are becoming hard to find. I don't mind working extra. Back at the "evil empire," I enjoyed my weekends because I did something completely different. Now I will take whatever is available.


Employment arrangements have changed dramatically where I live in NYC. I'm making the same amount of money I made in the year 1999 despite having "advanced" up the ladder and acquired a new degree. Once one takes into account that the cost of living has gone up, I'm actually making less now. At my age, the option of working a second job in addition to my full time job is no longer an option. I wouldn't be effective at either one.

I have no idea how new graduates with DPT loans to pay off can make ends meet!

Dean Metz November 20, 2012 6:54 PM

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