Ep. 184 – How to Survive (& Thrive!) Early Career OncoPT

Episode graphic: Ep. 184: How to Survive (& Thrive!) Early Career OncoPT with Dr. Elise K. Cantu, PT.  TheOncoPT Podcast.  Headshot of Dr. Elise K. Cantu, PT.  Background image of brown-haired woman with white mug in hands, sitting behind silver microphone.

I’m excited to share with you a recording of a recent guest speaking opportunity I had with the Duke University DPT Oncology SIG (special interest group) meeting. These students were amazing and it was so cool to get to talk with future OncoPTs about what they want to do, what the field looks like, and then reflect on what’s changed over the last couple of years.

Here are some of the questions they asked me that I answered in full detail:

“Can you talk about your process leading up to board certification and things that you found were advantages to not doing a residency and that kind of thing?”

“So you’re a new PT and you’re trying to build these patient hours. How did you do that? Like what setting were you in to be able to get those patients?”

“How did you feel prepared enough to go start working just in oncologic physical therapy? Was there something specifically during that mentorship that you found successful to make you feel ready?”

“In that first year, without having that structured mentorship, what resources did you utilize? Who did you go to? What did you lean on if you felt like you had no idea what to do?”

Fun fact: 

I had all these questions that I needed answers to, to take care of my patients. And so I decided – well, if I’m already looking for this information, I may as well share it with people so hopefully they can get some good out of it. That’s actually how the podcast got started and so now we are almost four years later, which is pretty fun.

Dr. Elise Cantu, PT

“So you found a gap and you were trying to fill that. How has your vision for the podcast changed, if it has, from when you first started it to now? And what were some challenges that you’ve faced and overcome in doing a podcast because I feel like that’s pretty difficult to do just starting up?”

“I see you’re amping up your content on social media. Where do you see your practice going? Are you using social media heavily to build your own practice? Do you think PTs in the future will need to be on social media? Like, what’s your take?”

“I would love to hear more about how you transitioned from working in a cancer center to opening up your own private practice. What brought you there?”

“To follow up on the business side of that, are you cash based? Do you take insurance? What does that look like for your private practice?”

 ​​”Do you see yourself expanding to another site? Do you see bringing on more PTs in the future? What’s your vision?”

“I’m curious about referral sources, and how you compete against a cancer center that’s in the area?”

“So this is kind of backtracking a little bit, but I know that one of the things that you did not like about your job at the cancer center was that you couldn’t treat them the way that you wanted to treat them. You were getting asked to double book. What initially drew you to that position? What about that job said ‘absolutely this is for me’?”

Hard lesson to learn: 

There’s so much more to being happy and successful and loving the job that you do than the specific situation in which you work.

Dr. Elise Cantu, PT

“Do you think that there is a need for Oncologist specialist in just your standard outpatient ortho practices. And where do you think that need is? Is it in more rural areas and not as needed like around big cancer centers?Or do you think there’s still a need in areas that have cancer centers or is it kind of isolated to rural areas?” 

“Would you mind speaking a little bit about how it’s been to be on the forefront of this kind of specialty of physical therapy and what that experience has been like for you?”

“What have the challenges been? As far as lack of resources, lack of mentorship? Have you encountered any difficulties with this being such a new part of our profession?”

“How are you consuming research to stay up to date and be an evidence-based practitioner.”

“Do you have any recommendations for a student going off to clinical rotations? Things that we should look for, things that we should be doing, practicing, that kind of thing?

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Again, it’s not if, it’s when you will encounter a person with cancer.”

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