As graduation looms ahead, the next crop of freshly minted physical therapists is looking for jobs. For some, location is top priority; they have families, significant others and established lives, and moving is simply not an option. Other graduates are prepared to relocate anywhere in the country, or even the world, in order to land a dream job.
The fact of the matter is, staying local after PT school graduation comes with its own set of pros and cons. Since many of you are just finishing up with physical therapy school, we wanted to provide some considerations to help you weigh whether you want to stay local or move away from school for your first job.
1. You’ve already got a life established.
Let’s face it: the friendships forged in PT school are a special breed, crafted through the blood, sweat and tears you produced while earning your degree. Most likely, at least one or two of your friends will stick around, and you’ll have those friends as resources as you build your knowledge base. You’ll also have built in practice partners and continuing ed buddies, should you have similar career goals.
2. Professional network.
The closer you stay to your school, the more easily you can participate in alumni functions, as the professors and recent graduates are often quite active in professional organizations. This also means if you need a new job, a myriad of preexisting connections is right within your reach.
3. Opportunities to teach.
If you stay in touch with your alma mater, you will likely be solicited to volunteer for events and outreach. Interviewing potential candidates can quickly parlay into a TA opportunity, which is often just the foot in the door you need to begin an academic career.
4. Continuing Education
Proximity to a major PT school often provides the opportunity to attend continuing education courses for a fraction of the cost. Travel cost can often be a budget buster, as even the lucky PTs who have paid continuing ed with their jobs will likely need to finance their own travel costs. With your alma mater hosting continuing education classes regularly, you will be able to attend more courses without breaking the bank.
5. Employers Know Your School
If you’re looking for a job as a new graduate, and the local hospital has already successfully employed 10 other grads from your PT school, chances are they’ll pick you over some schmo from a school across the country that nobody in the department has ever heard of. In some cases, you may have even had a clinical where you’re applying!
1. Lack of Options
Because so many graduates wish to remain in the city of their PT school, having established lives and families there, the job market tends to be more competitive. Landing that perfect job with all the opportunities you want may be a pipe dream. In fact, some new grads are forced to take several per diem jobs (which can be a blessing in disguise), just to make ends meet, until something full-time opens up.
2. Lower Pay
Because more PT graduates live in your area, you will naturally need to accept the fact that your bargaining power for salary is very low. If you don't take that low-ball offer, another new grad (who simply must stay local) will happy accept it. This can be an absolute deal-breaker if you have high student loans.
3. You’re Expendable
A constant influx of new graduates hungry for work is a source of comfort for employers. If any of their employees is not pulling their weight at work, a replacement is just around the corner. This can be scary, in an era when many employers value productivity more than quality of work.
4. Slower Career Growth
Because the job market is more competitive, expect your pay increases to be meager and your ability to change jobs on a whim to be a bit more challenging. Many new graduates in saturated markets complain that they remain at (or near) new grad pay for much longer than their colleagues who moved out of the area.
5. More Competition
Think you’re the only University of XYZ grad who wants to open a women’s health clinic near school? Think again. The more graduates churning out of your school, the more likelihood they have the same ideas, and career goals, that you do. While this may seem like a con, proper networking can ensure that you connect with these folks and collaborate as you like.