I Wrote this in 2020 – Its Relevance Remains – The Intersection of the 20th Anniversary of 9-11, COVID-19 and Therapists Today

We all have watershed moments in life. Turning points, and exact moments that change the direction of an activity or situation and usually the direction of one’s life. Typically considered momentous, though often recognized only in hindsight. The longer you live, the more watershed moments you experience and integrate into the landscape of your life.
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of one of my watershed moments – the 2001 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center.  Fourteen physical and occupational therapy practices in my beloved downtown neighborhood were either destroyed or damaged, and shut down.  I had just finished fulfilling my employment contract after selling my own downtown therapy company. It was a no brainer to immediately try to help therapists recover, so my consulting practice was born. Over time, many, but not all, of the practices rebounded.  Lower Manhattan triumphed, additional therapy practices came to the neighborhood with many dynamic and wonderful pediatric and adult practices still serving the downtown community 20 years later.  Ironically, 350 businesses have closed downtown in the last 18 months because of COVID, but all the therapy practices remain open.
The similarities between 9-11 and COVID are there and for many therapists, the COVID 19 pandemic is this generation’s 9-11. Because I know a thing or two about keeping a practice afloat in times of extreme duress, for the last year and a half I have been inundated working with therapy practices, large and small around the country in varying stages of re -activeness, panic and grace under pressure in response to the COVID crisis. That was to be expected.  What was more surprising is what seems to be one of the largest shifts in recent memory in employment in our field. So many therapists are experiencing a new or renewed clarity about their priorities, and how much they want their personal and professional lives to be different. Many therapists did not realize they were not happy before the pandemic. No longer does everyone seem to want to go back to “normal”, to how things were before the pandemic. Many therapists want things to be different whether it is in the nursing home where they work or the practice that they own. Our previous normal was not as good as we thought it was and we are still creating the legacy of this pandemic.

On the anniversary of one of my watershed moments, I encourage you to embrace yours. Whether you are an “accidental” entrepreneur or an intentional one, if burnout is at an all-time high, while mental health at an all-time low, this may be the best time to capitalize on the professional disruption you may be experiencing.

We all know now what 9-11 taught us 20 years ago and we honor the 2,977 people killed, the 6,000 injured and salute the 100 plus children who were born to parents who lost partners that day. Time is not an endless resource. 

xo Iris Kimberg, MS PT, OTR

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