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Why I Love Being a Physical Therapist in Alaska

by Miranda Montejo


I graduated from Pacific University in Oregon with my DPT in 2013 and I was anxious to put my skills to use. I had my mindset on working in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in California where I had grown up and was extremely close to accepting a job in a cash pay clinic, working alongside a chiropractor. Not once, did I consider being a physical therapist in Alaska.

Thankfully, I kept my options open and I highly encourage you to do the same.

I was contacted by a classmate who mentioned that her former boss was opening up a clinic in Anchorage Alaska. He was looking for someone to head the new practice. This job would involve patient care, clinic management, wages, benefits, market demand, and my long-term goals, it dawned on me that this was an incredible opportunity. I was on my way to becoming a physical therapist in Alaska.

I accepted the job, passed my boards, and have been building my outpatient orthopedic practice over the past two and a half years. I have been pleasantly surprised with my growth as a practitioner, businesswoman, and overall person.

Private practice was never on my mind as a new grad, but accepting this position has truly changed my outlook on life. If you are job hunting or looking to build a practice of your own, know that Alaska is a great place to do so. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider being a physical therapist in Alaska.

Physical Therapist in Alaska

1. Health care provider shortage

It is common for people to hear the word Alaska and think "igloos and Eskimos." I used to be one of them. What many people do not realize is that Alaskans live in houses, drive cars, and shop for their food in grocery stores. Because of the misconceptions, most physical therapists don't even consider working in Alaska. Due to this, there is a shortage of health care providers. This typically translates into having multiple options and competitive pay if you choose to accept a job here.

2. Behind the times compared to The Lower 48

The contiguous United States is referred to as The Lower 48. Alaska is considered to be "behind the times," comparatively. Treatment techniques, modalities, and good interpersonal communication skills are perceived as innovative or advanced. As a new grad physical therapist in Alaska, you can feel confident that you are offering patients some of the most up to date treatment techniques, sharpening your manual and diagnostic skills, and creating an individualized treatment plan so that your patients will get the most out of each session and your services.

3. Good reimbursement rates

Fee schedules are some of the highest, here in Alaska. Reimbursement is high, as well, which typically means the hourly pay or salary for a new grad is higher than most practices in The Lower 48. Although the cost of living can be slightly more expensive in Alaska, you can make a significant dent in your student loans, diversify your financial portfolios, or have more financial freedom if you accept a job here and use your income wisely.

4. Big state, small-town feeling

Alaska is about 3 times the size of Texas. The state is big, but it definitely has a small-town feeling. There is a sense of community in each city or village, so if you like the small-town feeling, Alaska should be on the top of your list. Word travels fast. If you are good at what you do, and patients are getting results, you will have no problem building up your caseload and having a steady flow of patients year-round.

5. Adventure

If you love the outdoors, Alaska is the ultimate playground. The scenery is breathtaking. It is dark in the winter and light all summer long. Snowsports, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, running, and hunting are all options for every Alaskan. There is nothing like working hard and playing hard all year round. Your body and your patients will love you for it.

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