Read as Brian Werner talks about his career as a Vestibular Rehabilitation Physical Therapist. Find him at www.nomorevertigo.com and on the Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview. @dizzyPT
What do you do for a living?
I am a physical therapist.
How would you describe what you do?
I work daily to assess and treat patients with inner ear and balance dysfunction. I also manage my staff of PTs and assistants for treatment and daily needs.
What does your work entail?
I am an owner as well as a clinician so I am busy daily with management as well as clinical needs. Marketing, paying bills, talking to vendors, talking to patients and family, treating patients.
What’s a typical work week like?
Typically it is very busy but fun – work is usually 50 hrs a week.
How did you get started?
I found that patients I was seeing when I was an orthopedic therapist were having symptoms of dizziness as well. I looked into how the dizziness could be causing their orthopedic symptoms and fell into vestibular therapy.
What do you like about what you do?
I fix problems with patients that often have been to several medical practitioners.
What do you dislike?
I dislike the uncertainty of the medical system.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I am primarily compensated through medical insurances, liens, and cash payments.
How much money do Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapists make?
What is unique about being a vestibular therapist is there are few PTs that do the therapy let alone want to do it – we are very eclectic and niche. Most start at $75K but can make up to $120K or more.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
You need an undergraduate degree and master’s degree – by 2020 all PTs will have a doctorate to be a physical therapist – currently this is 95% of the PT schools.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Getting complex patients with very challenging symptoms and getting them better.
What is most rewarding?
Helping people resolve their dizziness.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Be open minded and enjoy reading as there is a big learning curve in understanding the balance system.
How much time off do you get/take?
I get 3 weeks off a year – I take it all.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That our program is voodoo and not sound science. The treatment of dizziness and balance has a long history back to World War II when soldiers post concussion were having dizziness. The treatment of dizziness is used daily in the military with pilots learning to fly by instrument. We use the same principles.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My goals are to become a center of excellence in the Southwest of the US in the treatment of vestibular disorders.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
It is a great profession being a PT – very rewarding.