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Raising the Bar in Rehab

The Corporate Lattice

Published January 19, 2012 12:12 PM by Lisa Mueller

I'm in the middle of reading a wonderful book, titled The Corporate Lattice by authors Cathy Benko and Molly Anderson. My father-in-law gave me the book and mentioned it may be of interest to me. The book is about the outdated corporate-ladder model of professionalism and how most employees are favoring a lattice-type model in their careers.

While the book is likely targeted at entrepreneurs or business owners, I've noticed myself relating my own thoughts of my career path. I've probably mentioned before that I've always felt the only part lacking in my PT education was the limited instruction in career planning, including interview skills, negotiating benefits and resume-building techniques. Therefore, I didn't leave school with a clear plan on how my career would develop, but I assumed based on my parents' jobs that I would get some experience as a therapist and someday hopefully be promoted to a supervisor, manager, director or any other higher-level position. This thought process was confirmed when I was promoted to a "Level Two" therapist last summer -- moving in the right direction, I thought!

This book explains how outdated the career-ladder model is, and how professionals in any field need more flexibility in today's society. The world of work today is drastically different than the one my parents are comfortable with and many factors contributed to that change, namely the increase in women working, nontraditional families and the rising up of a virtual, connected workplace. Employees now have different priorities at different times in their lives, depending on their needs at home.

The lattice model of work emphasizes lateral mobility to balance career-life needs. The nonlinear lattice career varies over time and isn't forced to fit the vertical climbs of the corporate-ladder model. Lattice is customizable whereas the ladder model is a one-size-fits-all career path. Here's the biggest difference -- promotion is the greatest measure of success in the ladder model, but in the lattice model growth and development are the measures of success. Instead of thinking about where I can be promoted to next, I should be thinking about how I plan to expand myself into other areas of physical therapy.

Physical therapy jobs are generally flexible compared to other professional fields. Depending on your location, there are full-time or part-time jobs, weekday or weekend jobs, day or evening positions. However, because physical therapy is literally a hands-on career, we don't have as many opportunities to work from home as other professional fields. I'm confident we will see a massive shift in the way we provide care to our patients in upcoming years. We are going to shift toward increased use of digital platforms to connect with patients and share information with other professionals. Growth and development in areas of expertise are going to define who we are as physical therapists. Instead of asking each other, "What kind of experience do you have in this area?" we should focus on, "How are you planning to develop your skills this year?"

I'll probably be blogging about ideas in The Corporate Lattice book later, when I actually finish it. I encourage you to share your thoughts on your own career path with me here.


I know a few former directors who once they ascended to the supposed Ivory Tower, returned to staff positions because it wasn't what they thought it would be, or they realized they couldn't go any further and were disillusioned with their future prospects.

That is one of the reasons i chose to pursue public health. It is a domain rarely entered by PTs and one with great need for professionals with our skill set. It also took me nearly a decade to make the connection and start the process.

I agree, our PT education tends to focus on providing clinical care. It is a need given the advanced nature of our work. There could be room or a need for more lateral thinking in terms of continuing education or secondary degrees. I look forward to hearing how you liked the rest of the book.

Dean Metz January 23, 2012 1:29 PM

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