Meredith, you have built an incredible business helping rehab professionals leverage their existing skills, education, and experience beyond direct patient care. But first, you were a practicing physical therapist approaching burnout and struggling with the next steps in your career. Tell us your story.
I became a physical therapist in 2010. PT was a second career for me, and I thought it was the perfect match for my personality. I am energetic and active, and love making an impact and helping others.
Unfortunately, I found that patient care was not what I had hoped it would be. Rather than harnessing my energy and motivating others, I found that patient care was bureaucratic, focused on documentation, and largely designed around billing units so facilities could make money. Rarely did it feel like the patient was the one at the center of our care.
I found the day-to-day grind to feel draining, demoralizing, and rote. There was no real incentive to become a better clinician. If anything, clinics seemed to prefer that you kept patients on your caseload longer so you could bill more units.
Perhaps most importantly, at least for me, patient care felt emotionally and physically taxing. I would leave work every day feeling exhausted and sad. I felt like there was no real upward mobility in the field, and I felt more like an assembly line worker than a skilled clinician. From management to other providers, to the patients themselves, there was a clear lack of respect for the value we PTs brought to the table, and I realized I could not see myself spending the next 30 years of my life working as a treating clinician.
I wound up leaving direct patient care, but the process was far from easy. There were countless rejection letters, incidents where I’d get ghosted by recruiters, and frustrating experiences like getting laid off within days of being hired as a contractor.
Ultimately, I was able to build a fulfilling and exciting career in content management, where I still worked in healthcare, but I was no longer treating patients. I found that many other clinicians were asking me about how I made this leap into the content space, so I launched The Non-Clinical PT as an informative blog to help other rehab (PT/OT/SLP) professionals learn how to leverage their existing skills, education, and experience beyond direct patient care.
Tell us about your journey toward creating/building as a clinician
I was already working in the blogging/content creation space when I launched The Non-Clinical PT. Blogging seemed like the natural way to get information out to burned-out rehab clinicians—and I am grateful that my existing experience was able to inform my decision-making process as I got TNCPT off the ground. I’ve never really enjoyed public speaking or being on camera, so videos were out. But I love writing—so, blogging it was!
As the website grew, I found myself lamenting that I had nowhere to turn to the big questions my readers had. I remember telling my husband that I wished there were somewhere I could send readers when they asked me tough questions about their careers.
After hearing me say this a few times, my husband finally said to me, “I think you have to be that person.”
It was a pivotal moment when I realized that if I was going to help people follow in my footsteps, I had a lot of research and responsibility ahead of me.
It was around that time that I read a book that changed my life: Playing Big by Tara Mohr. This book helped me realize that I didn’t need any special certifications or permission to build an industry-changing business. I simply needed to follow my heart and my passion and do the work I felt was needed by others who were in the same position I had been in so recently…
Since then, I have built a successful company that has helped thousands of rehab clinicians leverage their skills, education, and experience to land fulfilling, high-paying jobs where they get the respect they deserve. I am incredibly grateful that I chose to believe in myself—and that I surrounded myself with others who believed this was possible.
There were plenty of detractors in the beginning who told me I was fighting a losing battle. If I had chosen to believe those people, I would be in a very different place, both professionally and personally.
What is your creative process like?
The imposter syndrome was real when I first got started. I was only about 3 years into my non-clinical career, and I kept asking myself, “Who are you to present yourself as the expert on making this switch?”
I hit a point where I realized that I didn’t have to be some PhD-level expert on careers to provide valuable information to people who felt inspired to make a professional change. If anything, the fact that I was just like my readers seemed to help them trust me more and want to learn from me!
I’ve since learned that relatability is key when you’re a creator. I’ve never pretended to be some ivory-tower academic or badass million-dollar professional rockstar. I’ve been myself: goofy, cat-loving, a bit awkward at times, and willing to keep it real and drop an F-bomb when need be :) I’ve accepted that I don’t love presenting at conferences (and don’t even love attending them), and I don’t want to be a bazillionaire who hustles nonstop. I simply want to do work that helps others, makes an impact, provides for my somewhat simple lifestyle, and somehow brings hope to burned-out providers who got into the rehab professions to help others.
To get into the creative mindset, I tend to walk on a walking pad at a slow speed in my office, spend time in our screen room (I love the sounds of nature for inspiration), or listen to music. I don’t overthink things, and I permit myself to switch tasks if whatever I’m working on feels like pulling teeth to make progress :) Lastly, I find that a soft, warm, purring cat sitting nearby is always a good source of inspiration! 🐱
What are the challenges and opportunities of being a clinician creator?
The opportunities have been endless. I love having complete creative freedom to cover the topics that are meaningful to my community, rather than a team of bean-counters. I adore creating materials that help others succeed in their careers. I enjoy that I can pick and choose to collaborate with people I trust, and avoid working with those I find sketchy.
I also am grateful that being a clinician creator enables me to make a true impact. After 6 years of running TNCPT, I am seeing a lot of positive changes taking place in the rehab industry at large. People are openly discussing burnout. The poor return on investment (ROI) from our expensive graduate schools is being discussed. Companies that used to primarily hire nurses into non-clinical roles are now listing PT/A, OT/A, and SLP/A in their licensing requirements.
It’s exciting, and I am beyond grateful that I can make a good living by doing work that fills my cup AND helps others.
I do feel accepted in the creative community as a clinician, and I feel like my work has inspired many others to create their non-clinical businesses.
Of course, this can be challenging, too. Several clinicians who have taken my courses and learned from me have then turned around to create similar businesses. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s also very flattering.
These days, I find myself feeling called to pursue more volunteer-based work to address issues like housing affordability sustainability, and diversity/equity/inclusion within healthcare. The Non-Clinical PT has provided me with the platform to discuss such issues, and it has afforded me the financial freedom to volunteer my time to make an impact in new areas, rather than focusing on competing with the many similar businesses that have begun to pop up.
What lessons learned can you share with other clinicians starting on this journey?
1️⃣ Be yourself and be authentic. Not everyone will like you, and your message won’t resonate with everyone. But if you let the haters get to you, you’ll stop dead in your tracks and you’ll never create anything. Your people are out there!
2️⃣ Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s part of learning, and your community will respect you even more if you take ownership of errors and promise to do better (and do better) in the future.
3️⃣ Invest in long-term solutions. It’s tempting to try anything just to make a buck. I see so many fledgling creators fall into this trap. I’m grateful that a few of my mentors and friends cautioned me against this when I was starting. I invested in my long-term strategies to provide good content and build trust with my readers, and this paid off in the long run. I see so many people rushing to create paid programs too soon, and they are disappointed to realize that they jumped the gun.
What do you hope to accomplish through what you are building/creating and where do you see continued gaps?
At this point, I have accomplished much of what I wanted to do:
Give PT/OT/SLP professionals hope for a brighter professional future
Provide pathways and strategic steps to make professional pivots
Destigmatize the idea of leaving direct patient care if it’s not a good fit
Create a strong community of rehab professionals who can support each other as they build non-clinical careers
Address the saturation issues in our fields so that those who choose to remain in patient care are treated with more respect and receive better compensation
That said, I’d love to see someone in the future tackle some of the remaining issues:
Convincing companies to recognize the value that clinicians bring to the table in non-clinical roles
Stagnating (and often decreasing) clinical salaries for PTs, OTs, and SLPs
Skyrocketing costs of graduate education in the rehab professions
Lack of diversity within our ranks
What bridges do you hope to build in the healthcare space?
I love connecting with people like you, Amy, who are working to improve the way clinicians are viewed by non-medical professionals. I have the privilege of speaking with people like you each week, and I am inspired by the vision that you have to improve the healthcare system. I do my best to connect people with similar values and goals, and I always hope they walk away from such meetings with more ideas for ways to collaborate :)
What is your call to courage for clinicians wanting to create or build something?
📣 CALL TO COURAGE
Don’t sell yourself short! Everyone has a valuable message to share, and there is no shortage of problems that need to be addressed in the healthcare world. Our system is broken, but not beyond repair. We clinicians are natural problem-solvers, and I truly believe that we are the ones who will fix this mess and move things in the right direction!
Meredith Castin is a physical therapist and the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, LLC. Starting her nonclinical career in writing, editing, and content management, she eventually started The Non-Clinical PT to provide a career development platform so rehab clinicians could leverage their clinical skills and education beyond direct patient care.
Meredith lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband and two cats. She loves hiking, biking, kayaking, roller skating, making art and music, and talking/thinking about cats :)
The Non-Clinical PT includes courses and content to help. PT/OT/SLP professionals successfully transition into non-clinical careers. We also offer crash courses that cover individual non-clinical career paths. These crash courses are priced lower and best used by clinicians who are sure which non-clinical career path they want to pursue. Lastly, we also offer Therapy Blogging 101 (which we might rebrand soon!), which is a course that helps healthcare professionals build, grow, and monetize websites (without relying on the social media hustle)!
🤝 To connect with Meredith and learn more about her offerings: