DPT alum opens own clinic
Opening your own physical therapy clinic just three years after graduation may sound ambitious, but it was something Casey Negrete worked toward from early on in his DPT education.
A member of the inaugural DPT class at Trine University, the Class of 2017, Casey’s credentials now include PT, DPT, COMT, Cert. DN, and Titleist Performance Institute Certified Medical and Fitness Professional – as well as husband, dad, and business owner. He is pictured above at his clinic, along with wife Maggie and daughter Savannah.
Casey dreamed of owning his own clinic since the start of PT school. His dad owned an optometry clinic and consistently encouraged Casey to consider business ownership.
“I initially thought my journey would look similar to his, in that I would buy into an already established practice,” Casey recalled. “But as I began my career, I saw that this plan didn’t match up with my values when it came to patient care. After deciding on what I thought treatment should include, I found that a cash-based model provided the most freedom to provide the experience and value I wanted to give my clients.”
While in school, Casey researched the cash-based model and completed a project on starting a theoretical clinic in one of his classes. Along with building his clinical skillset through employment in an outpatient clinic, continuing education classes, and attaining certifications, Casey invested in a program that was built to help physical therapists interested in starting a cash-based clinic. Checklists of steps to take and training on sales, marketing, and business ownership helped Casey plan his business.
Casey recalls the role of mentorship in making his business ownership dream happen.
“I had an awesome mentor in Dr. Tom Reudiger, who consistently encouraged me to continue considering the cash-based model while pushing me to be a great clinician throughout my time at Trine," he said. "He was able to give me some real-world advice from his experiences of running a cash-based side business before coming to Trine.”
Casey said the Trine DPT program as a whole provided the knowledge and skills he needed to start his career and the courage to pursue business ownership.
“I was also encouraged by all of the faculty to pursue excellence in my clinical skillset through evidence-based clinical education, which has given me the confidence to treat my clients the right way," he said.
Casey opened his practice, IMPACT Health & Performance, in March 2020. Inside a gym in Ankeny, Iowa, Casey leases a small room for evaluations and private treatments, and has access to the rest of the gym and its equipment for treatments. This allows Casey to lead a client through the entire rehab process.
“I’m not only able to help them get out of pain and keep doing the activities they love, but am able to take it to the next step by helping clients improve their athletic performance or overall physical fitness to improve their health and decrease risk of the same or other injuries," he said. "This last step is what I felt was missing from the traditional system I started my career in. Unfortunately, whether due to lack of resources or time, I didn’t feel I was able to thoroughly guide a lot of my clients through the necessary phase of significantly improving their baseline fitness or helping them reach their athletic goals. Now I can and it’s awesome.”
“Owning a business is a lot of work and requires you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Casey said. Although he is early in his business ownership role, Casey said this experience has led to tremendous professional and personal growth.
Casey’s advice to those considering starting their own clinic is to find a mentor or business coach to guide them through the basics of sales, marketing, and starting a business; he also suggests Danny Matta’s “The PT Entrepreneur Podcast.” He recommends students with such an interest consider starting a personal training or strength and conditioning side business while in school.
“If there was one thing I would go back and do differently while in school, it would be a side hustle," he said. "I see how it would have given me some experience in sales and marketing, and the extra income would have been nice, too!”
In a nod to the mentorship he received at Trine, Casey offered to share his experiences with anyone interested in a conversation about cash-based physical therapy, business ownership, or anything else. Casey welcomes communication via firstname.lastname@example.org, and offers exercise progression ideas on his Instagram page @impact.ankeny.