So, you’re considering making the switch from a clinical to a school-based setting as a pediatric therapist. How do you know if it will be the right fit for your wants and needs? As with any career move, it’s important to become clear about your personal goals, explore your options in detail, and develop a personal plan for success.
Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) is here to provide you with some key insights into the decision-making and transition process. Below, you will find an overview of clinical vs. school therapy and tips for how to move forward.
How Can I Transition From a Clinical to a School Setting as a Pediatric Therapist?
The good news is that it’s not necessary to have pediatric therapy experience in a school setting. For example, at PTS we’ve hired physical therapists (PTs) who worked in clinical settings with adults, who thrive in a school environment working with a much younger age group. They’ve found a way to tailor their rapport-building skills to another population, in another setting.
However, therapists in other roles, such as those who support students with autism, may need additional training and experience to be successful in a school.
Whatever your current starting point, when you transition from a clinical to a school-based therapy setting, you should expect to go through a steep learning curve, apply your skills and expertise in new ways, and work alongside a multi-disciplinary team.
1. Consider the Key Differences Between Clinical & School-Based Therapy
Before making a transition, it’s helpful to understand the main differences between clinical and school-based therapy:
|Clinical Therapy||School Therapy|
|Therapy caseloads tend to remain more consistent||Therapy caseloads tend to be much more fluid|
|Appointment times are set ahead of time and adhered to||Appointment times and therapy rooms may change throughout the day/week|
|Therapists work alongside doctors and other clinicians||Therapists work alongside teachers, school administrators, and other clinicians|
|Patients and their guardians are available to complete documentation||Therapists have additional responsibilities, such as writing Individualized Education Plans (IEP)|
|Therapists coordinate with insurance requirements and providers||Therapists follow all special education regulations and compliance|
If predictability and structure are priorities for you, the dynamic and fluid school environment may not be the best fit. If, on the other hand, you love variety, learning something new every day, problem-solving, collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team, and working in multiple locations, school-based therapy may provide an ideal work environment.
2. Reflect on Your Career Goals & Workplace Preferences
Before you apply for a job as a school-based therapist, you should also take the time to reflect on what you want and need and comparing that with what a given role entails, including both therapeutic and other responsibilities. This can include:
- Considering your preferred student population
- Getting clear about your scheduling preferences, such as traditional school year hours and summer programming
- Seeking a mentor who has already transitioned from a clinical to a school setting
- Speaking to and networking with school-based therapists in positions that interest you
As you gather this information, you can also begin tailoring your resume to highlight transferable skills to working with students, as well as any relevant coursework you’ve completed. By connecting your clinical expertise with the therapy caseload that you anticipate in a school-based role, you can stand out and take steps toward the right role.
3. Find the Right Staffing Agency for You
At PTS, we take the time to ensure we place the providers who engage with us in a school that fits their style, work culture, and preferred student population. Our goal is long-term success for both the school-based therapist and our partnering school or district.
We differ from other staffing agencies because we don’t just place you in a school, we continue to collaborate with you.
4. Learn to Navigate Your School Environment
We also offer a year-long optional School-based Academy that begins every August. During the program, you will learn the ins and outs of school-based therapy from how to write an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to how to track your delivery of services and much more.
5. Access Additional Support When You Need It
We also have a team of Clinical Directors who offer the therapists in their school districts access to support when they need it and facilitate communication among therapists, teachers, and school administrators.
Make Your Transition to School-Based Therapy By Working Alongside PTS Today
We hope you found these insights useful. If you think school-based therapy is the right move for you, check out the current opportunities with our partnering school districts. Then, submit your school-based therapy application or contact us at PTS to learn more today!