Advice to today’s Physical Therapy Student

Anthony Buccafurni

Dr. Anthony Buccafurni is a practicing Physical Therapist and Chief Clinical Operations Officer of FOX. He graduated cum laude from Muhlenberg College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Science in 1998. He went on to receive his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 2001 and his Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy in 2002 from Temple University School of Health Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Buccafurni joined FOX Rehabilitation as a full-time clinician in 2003 and was quickly promoted to regional field leadership. During his early leadership at FOX, Dr. Buccafurni was instrumental to the expansion of FOX into Atlantic, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties in New Jersey. During his years as Executive Vice President of Operations, Dr. Buccafurni used his change management expertise to successfully reorganize Quality Assurance and Professional Development, Sales, and Admissions while leading Clinical Operations.

I was recently asked: “Considering your experience, what advice do you have for a physical therapy student?”

My response: You need to truly understand healthcare economics and how to promote your skilled services and clinically excellent care so that it does not go unnoticed or undervalued.

Why this is my response

The real obstacle that we all face in rehabilitation today is a changing healthcare environment where we are forced to ask hard questions.

What is the value of our services?

How do I get paid for the services I provide?

Why doesn’t anyone know what a physical therapist does?

Promotion can help provide some solutions to these questions.

Without the promotion of work well done, and a heightened awareness of the ever-changing economics of the healthcare business, it will be impossible for well-trained clinicians to provide the services our patients need, as there will be no way for practices to “keep their lights on.”

When I was a new grad

When I entered the profession myself, I was focused on clinical excellence. I wanted to be the best therapist anyone could find.

I wanted to constantly be learning and gaining more industry knowledge than anyone else. I wanted to shape the landscape of clinical care.

I cared little about the “system” or the “payers” because I was a healthcare professional and my patients care came first. In my opinion, healthcare administrators were nothing more than an obstacle to the delivery of quality care.

My perspective at the time was ironic, considering I was challenging my own father, a career hospital healthcare administrator. I often engaged him in conversations about his decision making process as it pertained to the management of healthcare professionals.

To be truthful, I openly questioned his approach.

Why?

Because I thought I had it all figured out when I was training to be a physical therapist.

How my response was formed

I have been practicing since 2001. I have been directly involved with the administration of clinical services in a private practice for over a decade. Clearly, my perspective has changed a bit from when I was just entering the field.

I have come to the realization that I have to trust that PT schools have vetted out their students’ will to learn and their drive to be clinically excellent. In fact, I think academic programs do an incredible job of requiring clinicians to practice by the evidence while challenging their clinical decision making skills in training.

How to apply my response

Clinical excellence should always be a primary focus for student training. It is the foundation that sits beneath every good clinician and every good business.

That said, a well-rounded clinician in this new era of healthcare will benefit tremendously from an understanding of the economics of our industry and an appreciation for the power of promoting their clinical practice.

I would advise students to intern with practices to gain exposure to billing operations and take advantage of every opportunity to become comfortable with outreach calls and public speaking. This will allow them to comfortably share the message of the clinically-excellent services they have worked so hard to develop.

Whether it is during training, at a first job or at some other point in one’s career, it is imperative that clinicians find mentors who can help them develop these essential qualities.

To learn more about opportunities for Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, sign up for a quick meeting with a senior recruiter at Fox Rehabilitation who will be the Recruiter in Residence at Wasserman’s Main Center on Tuesday, April 4 from 12pm – 5pm.  Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Students can sign up here.