Why Physical Therapists Should be Thriving

Why PTs Should be Thriving

At CSM this year, in front of 15,000+ attendees, we held up a cardboard sign with a statement written on it that turned out to be a bolder proclamation than I thought. That sign said:


PTs Should be Thriving
Not Just Surviving


While it seemed obvious to me and our team, and not particularly provocative, the reaction we received was one of surprise, delight, support, and excitement. The word ‘bold’ was used to describe it more than once.

After reflecting on it, we thought that perhaps PTs aren’t used to feeling the level of support they deserve, even if it feels like something we take for granted at MovementX. Looking deeper…

The genesis of that statement comes from two places.

First, the concept of ‘not just surviving’ comes from the physical therapists we talk to every single day. The unfortunate reality is that these are usually providers who are struggling to survive. Many are thinking of outright leaving the PT profession, and it’s not uncommon for us to hear the phrase:


“I’m either going to work for you guys or leave the profession.”


This breaks my heart to hear, both for the physical therapist (so much wasted time, money, and energy, developing skill sets they will no longer be directly using), and ultimately for patients, as they lose access to more empathetic, compassionate providers.

Candidly, it also hurts personally, as we are not able to take all of the providers who are in this situation. MovementX will not take on a new physical therapist unless we are confident they can and will succeed in our unique model, and I fear that turning them away from us will turn them further away from the profession. I view that as a failure of our own, of not having adequate resources and support to help them succeed.

The provider’s reason for wanting to leave usually comes back to burnout and the inability to find organizations who can support the type of care they feel called to deliver.

On the flip side, the concept of thriving comes from our mission at MovementX. Our mission is to help people move their best, so they can live their best. When we think about our mission, we think about both patients and providers. On the provider side, we measure whether or not every single provider is thriving in their life and career.

A photo of writing on a cardboard sign that reads "PTs should be thriving not just surviving"

Why Thriving?

Beginning outpatient physical therapy starts with a solid combination of personal and physical readiness. Let’s take a closer look at each.

At MovementX, we view our mission as our north star—something we are always in pursuit of reaching. Once set, we had to find ways to measure it, and we first focused on the physical therapist’s side of the treatment table.

While that sounds great in theory, how can you actually measure whether or not someone is living their best life? The question stumped us for a while.

As we dove into PT, psychological, and other domains research, we came across Gallup’s Life Evaluation Index, which “measures how people rate their current and expected future lives.” Their data is robust, well validated, and simple. Better yet, their research has shown that thriving employees are healthier, happier, and even help create a thriving organization.

Organizations play a critical role in determining whether or not an individual is thriving. In fact, in examining Gallup’s 5 domains of wellness, career just might be the most important domain that leads to a thriving life. While an employer isn’t responsible for every aspect of an employee’s happiness and quality of life, they can certainly move the needle in a positive or negative direction.


Thriving at APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting (CSM)

Starting back in 2022, we began measuring whether or not everyone at MovementX was thriving, and we were curious to see how we stack up to the competition at CSM.

Without further ado, here’s our results, and some basis for comparison…

  • According to the 2023 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, only 23% of employees globally are thriving. In the United States and Canada, that number climbs to 31%.
  • At CSM, based on 704 completed surveys, 69% of respondents rated themselves as thriving.
  • When MovementX last measured our internal community, 81% of our providers were thriving.

Clearly, compared to the world at large—or even the United States and Canada—physical therapists have a lot to appreciate. With stable jobs that are in progressively greater demand, and participating in a giving profession that is constantly ranked amongst the best, there’s a lot of good.

We were also happy to see a large percentage of PTs at CSM thriving. In fact, the number was higher than we expected, though we do think there was likely selection bias. Often the PTs who attend CSM are the happiest and most engaged!

At MovementX, we are proud of how we are pushing the needle to help PTs thrive at the highest rate possible, and we will not rest until 100% of our teammates are thriving. It’s part of our vision of 100 Thrive in ‘25.


The MovementX team all holding cardboard signs at CSM Boston 2024.


A Bold Proclamation

When we launched this movement towards a community of thriving physical therapists, it seemed obvious that it was the right thing to do. I am biased, but I think physical therapists (along with nurses) are some of the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever met. It seemed only right that we build environments that help them operate at their best.

However, too often organizations are focused on everything but the provider and their patient.

Since holding up our cardboard sign, I’ve realized that promoting the concept that PTs should be thriving is indeed a bold proclamation from the perspective of many. Putting the focus back on truly empowering our providers, creating a people-first environment, and ensuring our team is well equipped to take great care of our patients is more the exception than the norm.

We hope to not only build a thriving community at MovementX, but be part of a larger movement to help PTs thrive again, in their lives and careers.



At MovementX, we are committed to building a community of 100 thriving physical therapists by the end of 2025. You can read our Vision of Greatness (aka, exactly what we hope to look like when we achieve that Vision) here: 100 Thrive in ‘25.

About the Author

Dr. Josh D'Angelo Physical Therapist with MovementX in Alexandria, VA

Dr. Josh D’Angelo is a physical therapist in Alexandria, VA and co-founder and CEO of MovementX. As a Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedics, Josh D’Angelo is passionate about the role that a physical therapist can play in solving some of health care’s biggest challenges. His love of utilizing movement to improve health and quality of life fuels his efforts every day.

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