I had the pleasure of interviewing Luke Snyder, who works as a part-time lecturer for a physical therapy (DPT) program.
In this interview, he discusses why he became a physical therapist, how he leverages his physical therapy degree to work both in direct patient care as well as a lecturer for a DPT program, what his experience is like as a DPT lecturer, and how the compensation he receives as a DPT lecturer compares to that of patient care.
If you are a physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech therapist interested in becoming a part-time lecturer at the graduate school level, be sure to give this a read!
Hi Luke! Thanks for agreeing to share your story with the Money Mobilizer community! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I am a licensed physical therapist, certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), and an emergency medical technician (EMT). My interest in rehab science began in the sports setting, as an athletic trainer. After PT school, my wife and I got married and started a family. My goals and priorities were redirected. In my early 20s I was motivated by international travel to cover professional sports and now in my early 30s I am motivated to spend time with my family. A career that offers work-life balance is ideal.
When did you realize you wanted to be a physical therapist?
Senior year of high school. I spent a few months in a local outpatient clinic managing lateral knee pain related to running. I became interested in biomechanics, and the relationship to rehabilitation and injury prevention.
Besides direct patient care, how else do you use your physical therapy skills
I use my education as a physical therapist in multiple ways. For years now, I have worked seasonally for the CIF as a weight assessor for high school wrestling programs in Southern California. Each wrestler must establish baseline weight, height, and percent body fat values that establishes a safe weight loss plan throughout the season. =
I also teach in the Kinesiology department at Cal state Northridge. I teach Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries (lecture/lab) and General Medical Conditions in Athletes (lecture/lab).
I also treat patients for a home health staffing agency in Southern California.
What are your responsibilities for teaching at the DPT level?
I am a part time lecturer in the department. I was responsible leading lecture and lab classes for each class. The classes are established within the department, so I was provided a syllabus to guide my planning. I had a lot of freedom in developing my own lectures and labs, as long as the content was sufficiently covered.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a teaching role at the DPT level?
I have always had a desire to teach. My dad was a teacher. My sister is a teacher. My wife is a teacher. I am surrounded. I had great experiences throughout me education with professors that inspired me. It was these experiences that motivated me to provide similar experiences for students studying kinesiology, rehab science, and sports performance.
After PT school, I completed the PT orthopedic residency at USC. I was extremely interested in their program because of the opportunity to teach without the DPT program. It was this experience that opened doors at other universities.
What is teaching at the DPT level like?
Currently I am not teaching in a DPT program. As mentioned above, I taught in my residency. The workload and required preparation was relatively low because my role was primarily assistive. Currently, I teach my own lectures and labs so it is my responsibility to create curriculum, develop exams, assignments, etc. there is plenty of collaboration and help with faculty in the department. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy a different setting in my week.
Do you have a favorite teaching experience you recall?
Not specifically. Generally, I enjoy seeing students experience an “aha” moment. I feel like I can relate with the students, as it has not been too long since I was in their position. I put a great deal of effort in teaching my students. I truly want everyone to leave my class having learned something meaningful for their future careers.
How do you balance your direct patient care physical therapy work with your teaching work?
I am relatively new to teaching (currently in my 2nd semester) but I have found it extremely easy to balance the two roles. My patients prefer visits between 10am and 5pm. My teaching hours are typically 8am to 10/11am.
Would you consider teaching at the DPT level to be a lucrative side hustle?
Initially, I started teaching for a few different reasons other than my pure interest to pass on my knowledge and experience.
1. When I was getting involved in home health I was uneasy about the setting’s per patient pay format. I didn’t know exactly what to expect or if I would have enough patients to cover what I was making in outpatient PT. It just so happened that the teaching position and home health position fell on my lap at the same time. The teaching gig offers a stable check monthly, regardless of holiday breaks, exam schedules, etc. It felt stable to me.
2. Potential for benefits. If you teach a certain number of units you can qualify for health insurance and a retirement account. (I think only 6 units in the CSU system).
Overall, I analyzed time commitment and calculated out an hourly rate. I compared this with the time I could be seeing patients and I was happy taking the teaching job.