At The Table With Mike Severo

Introducing The “At The Table” Series

We are delighted to introduce our exciting new series, “At The Table,” where we take you behind the scenes to meet the movers and shakers in the world of health and wellness. In each installment, we’ll sit down with industry leaders to delve into their career journeys, tap into their expertise, and gain insights into the future of health and wellness.

Throughout this series, expect exclusive interviews that offer a glimpse into the minds of these trailblazers. From uncovering their personal motivations to exploring the latest trends and innovations in the health and wellness landscape, we’re here to bring you invaluable perspectives from those shaping the industry.

In this inaugural edition, we’re thrilled to feature Mike Severo. Get ready to be inspired and informed as we embark on this enlightening journey together.

At The Table With Mike Severo

Mike Severo boasts over 30 years of experience in physical therapy, with a rich healthcare background spanning from clinician to senior administrator. Throughout his career, he has showcased unwavering dedication to innovation and leadership.

As the former COO and Regional Vice President of a leading Physical Therapy practice in New England, Mike and his team achieved remarkable growth, expanding from 4 to over 40 clinics within a decade.

Join us for an insightful interview where we delve into Mike’s inspiring career journey and glean valuable insights into the future of the field.

Q: Why did you become a physical therapist?

A: During my senior year of high school, a close friend of mine, a very talented musician, had a hand injury and told me about his experience with his physical therapist. Being a people person and learning that a licensed professional could help people of all ages recover from injuries and return to the activities they love instantly piqued my interest in the profession. Despite receiving a bit of resistance and doubt regarding my abilities from program administrators, I wanted to become a PT. After completing a degree in exercise physiology, gaining related clinical experience, what I now call “clinical mileage,” and receiving encouragement from my family and mentor, I finally pursued my goal. I took the necessary prerequisites and was accepted into two top physical therapy programs at the University of Miami and Boston. I moved to Boston at 30 to restart my academic career and haven’t looked back since.

Q: Do you remember the first patient you treated, and how has physical therapy changed since then?

A: As a physical therapist, I realized early on that I needed more patient management and assessment skills. As I worked as an aid, before going to PT school, I had a patient who would come with reoccurring back and leg pain. At the time, I enrolled in a two-year Manual Therapy Fellowship program with the Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (IOMT), which was the best clinical decision I ever made. Since then, physical therapy education has evolved, and we have more science in the profession, allowing for direct access to patients, better patient home compliance, and monitoring. For example, recent graduates have learned more primary care skills in differential diagnosis and imaging, and there has been incredible growth in residency and fellowship programs to help expedite learning. Physical therapists now incorporate wellness behaviour and prevention into patient education and continued care. However, the prevalence of common MSK problems like Low Back Pain hasn’t changed. Recent studies show that 84% of adults living in the US experience LBP at some point in their lives.

Q: Where do you see the PT industry going? How can people prepare for this shift?

A: As healthcare professionals, physical therapists are on a mission to elevate their role to become primary care providers for musculoskeletal care and overall physical well-being. We need to move faster. The pandemic accelerated the use of telehealth. However, we lost those benefits as the country returned to exclusively in-person treatments.

Now, we see companies leveraging technology to provide care and reach more patients; however, as they scale, they lose the community feel.

I can see a balance between in-person and virtual care and home monitoring. The changing payment methods and salary pressures have brought new challenges. Still, as clinicians, we can adapt by advancing our skills, collecting clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, leveraging technology, and engaging patients to showcase our value. Let’s embrace this shift in the profession and continue to impact our patients’ lives positively.

Q: What tools or foundations would you recommend for clinicians who are interested in opening their practice and/or managing a team?

A: Starting a practice is hard work. Most people need help understanding the nuances before starting, and then they need help working as a provider, entrepreneur and owner. The first step is to get good advisers who have been in your shoes. People who provide insights and processes can save you time and money. Secondly, you need to do homework on what you want your clinic to be. Consider aspects like the value of ample parking to make your clinic more convenient and meet your needs in 3-5 years and optimize most of your square footage toward treatment space. Investing in versatile and durable equipment that your staff will appreciate. Lastly, remember that “hope is not a strategy.” Have a well-thought-out growth strategy, set achievable goals, track progress, and communicate effectively with your team. From a management perspective, understand that management is a skill. A good manager enjoys the challenge of managing people to get to a common goal. Remember, being a great clinician doesn’t necessarily translate to being a great manager. Stay focused, stay motivated, and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed.

Q: What book do you recommend every PTs read at least once in their career and have as a quick reference in the office?

A: I’ve never been asked this before.

Of course, now, resources are unlimited through electronic means and social media. I’ll give you two impactful books for me and an equally impactful YouTube video by Atul Gawande.

  1. Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley. I have gotten to know Lorimer well over the years. He is a tremendous lecturer and an all-around good man. I strongly recommend attending one of his courses. It will be a career changer.

  2. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I randomly found a YouTube video by Brene Brown and became an immediate fan. This book challenges traditional beliefs about what makes an exceptional leader by defining four critical, teachable skills that start with vulnerability.

  3. How to Heal Medicine by Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande is known for writing “exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine.” He also wrote a piece for the New Yorker called Cowboys and Pit Crews, worth the 15-minute read.

Q: If people wanted to reach out, where could they find you?

A: I am easy to find; the best way to do this is to connect with me through LinkedIn. You can find me here: Mike Severo LinkedIn. I enjoy hearing what other PT and Healthcare professionals are doing, especially in innovation, efficient healthcare delivery, and elevating our profession.

Stay tuned for more captivating conversations coming your way in “At The Table.”