Are You Satisfied?

Are you satisfied with your work as a physiotherapist? If you could turn back time (hello, Cher!), would you study physiotherapy? Would you recommend that others study physiotherapy?

None of the respondents in this study answered yes to all of the questions above. So, what about you? Are you satisfied?

Define: happy

Let’s start with, what is job satisfaction?

In short:

  • Do we like the work the work that we do?
  • Is it meaningful to us?
  • What feelings do we have towards our job?

Job satisfaction is about our work experience. True job satisfaction occurs over time. We’re aiming for consistent contentment.

What factors are at play?

The study above found that pay, healthy relationships (with patients and colleagues), as well as a supportive environment, were important to job satisfaction. These factors aren’t out of our reach. But, on the whole, we’re not achieving them. Why is this?

Before diving deeper into the physiotherapy profession, let’s explore the variables that contribute to career contentment in general.

The environment


Communication or, more accurately, communication load, is critical.

Communication load = Quality of Communication x Quantity of Communication

Overload occurs when there are too many messages or when the messages are overly complicated. Therefore, underload is the opposite of this.

The communication between a superior and a subordinate is also vital. Mostly, this relates to the subordinates perception of the supervisor’s behaviour.

A subordinate won’t be transparent if her boss is degrading or pompous. Of course, a strong relationship can never prosper in such circumstances.

Employee recognition

The focus of recognition should not be on rewards and incentives. These serve a purpose but the emphasis should be on developing a connection between the employees and the company’s culture.

It’s inevitable that people will excel and enjoy their work when they believe in what they are doing. That’s why there is such great value in a thorough recruitment process.

The individual

Unsurprisingly, people’s moods and emotions contribute to workplace satisfaction. This is a challenge because most factors are out of the hands of the employer. But, it needs careful attention regardless. For example, awareness of emotional dissonance:

Emotional dissonance is where someone expresses feelings that are different to what they’re actually feeling

Often, this means an employee acts cheery when, in reality, they’re feeling dreary. They may be doing this for their own sake or for their colleagues and clients. It’s a sure sign of job dissatisfaction.

Personality traits

Those who have an internal locus of control (where they believe they control the direction of their life) have positive work experiences more often than not. On the contrary, those who let life happen to them (external locus of control) have worse work experiences.

Psychological wellbeing

How well does a person manage their mental state?

All life factors (family, work and community) contribute here. That means, it can be difficult (but not impossible) for someone to be satisfied with work when the rest of their life is falling apart.

Employers and companies can feel out of their depth because they can only contribute to the ‘work’ sector of a person’s life. They might create the perfect environment yet employees continue to grumble and leave because of dissatisfaction with the rest of their life.

So, these environmental and individual variables are important for all occupations. This is a good starting point for us, physiotherapists. Let’s master workplace communication and improving our understanding of the individual before moving on to factors that are specific to our profession.


What do physios need to be happy? Hers’s a snapshot of some of the data:

*Article links at the bottom of this post

Salary is an important variable in the first two studies. But perhaps this is more of a cultural reflection rather than one that’s specific to the profession. Personal growth and advancement is a common theme too.

An important takeaway is that there is regional variation. These studies are from three different parts of the world (Turkey, Japan and America). Thus their values differ from one another. We can take this to mean a few things:

  1. Australian physiotherapists probably value different things compared to physios in other parts of the world
  2. Physiotherapists in the same workplace hold different values from one another

So, what does this mean?

  • Let’s nail the basics like mastering workplace communication and relationships
  • Then, we need to make changes based on what Australian physiotherapists at large find important. This would be things like adjusting the university curriculum to include units on stress management and marketing
  • Finally, at a business level, lets place more focus on the individual. This starts with the recruitment process and continues throughout the entirety of employment. We must replace assumption (‘This is what I think they want’) with open conversation about what the person actually wants at each part of her career. Then, let’s match this with what we can provide and reality

Selfishly selfless

There’s no question that we as physiotherapists will play an increasingly important role in the future. And if we’re to provide a service that we’re proud of, then, we need to look inward. We need to fortify our profession by identifying the faults in our foundation then shoring them up.

What are the flaws that we need to address? Leave your comments and opinions below.


Author: Andrew Cammarano

Andy writes about anything that comes to mind. Oftentimes, he repeats himself. So, if you read a post and ask yourself, "I feel like I've read this before." Chances are you have. Apart from writing, he eats a diet high in peanut butter, he exercises (and suffers from a chafed butt from performing too many sit-ups in pursuit of a six-pack) and comes up with many fantastical ideas, like his peanut butter-based chafe cream. Reach out to him to share your opinions (or if you'd like to become his chafe cream business partner).

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