Aisha Correa Wilbur, PT, DPT

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Wilbur Family

Aisha Correa Wilbur, PR, DPT, is a PPS member and owner/clinical manager of Willow Physical Therapy in Fairbanks, Alaska. She can be reached at awilbur@willowpt.com.

Practice, location: Willow Physical Therapy, Ltd, Fairbanks, Alaska

Size of practice (# of locations, employees): 1 location, 9 total employees (3 PTs)

Years in practice: 7 years owning clinic and practicing for 9 years

Most influential book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Favorite movie: I’m a fan of documentaries. Food Matters. I could watch it again and again!

How do you spend your free time? I spend my free time with my kids and family playing. I live in Alaska so we love the outdoors. I love my job and I love the time I get to spend with my family outside of work.

What do you like most about your job? I really love being challenged in different ways. I work daily in different aspects, such as patient care and business duties. I love that I get to do different things in a day and that most days are not repetitive. I love being challenged and learning new things on a day-to-day basis.

What do you like least about your job? I do not enjoy the administrative tasks, such as keeping up with email, as it could potentially hinder time dedicated to patient care as well as running my business.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned? I have learned that even when a negative situation is occurring or something bad is happening, there is always a lesson to be learned. You can always learn something from the situation. It is good to do something different to get a different result in the future. I focus on the positive side of things. There is no sense in worrying as it does not do anyone any good at all.

What is something unique about you that your fellow colleagues would like to know? When I first moved to Alaska, I did not like it at all. After spending some time here, I fell in love with it. I now have an Alaska flag tattoo on my foot!

What is something that you would like to communicate to your fellow PPS colleagues? I started my family about my third year into owning my private practice. It was a big challenge, managing my practice while starting my family. It took me a while to figure out the right work/life balance. In the beginning, my kids came to work with me. I realized early on that I needed to establish a clear work/life balance. I realized that being a woman in private practice can be difficult but not impossible. I learned how to balance my “mommy guilt” with my “business guilt” to ensure I achieved the proper balance between raising my family while managing my business.

Describe your essential business philosophy: I always have my long-term vision on my mind, the big picture, to ensure we are staying true to that. I am not always worried about details. I believe in practicing what you preach. I give direction to my employees so that everyone knows where we are going and to ensure the team is on board with that vision.

Describe your management style: I am not a micromanager. I am not necessarily as structured as other managers. I like being fun and lenient. I have a great staff. Many of my employees have been with the practice for a long time. I do not feel like I really manage our staff but rather provide direction to help everyone work toward our longterm vision. I have pulled away from trying to solve everything and ask the team to help in producing solutions to situations.

How do you measure or assess your success? We measure treatment success using a patient tool called “Your Results.” The patient records their successes from treatment in their own words, and that is shared with the referring provider. We also use outcome measures to track success from patient episodes. In addition, I utilize a financial dashboard to track the success of the practice. If we are helping patients and our employees are happy, then I consider that a great definition of success.

What goal have you yet to achieve? I would like to expand my pelvic rehabilitation program. I would like to bring on another PT to expand this offering. I would also like to explore opening up a multidisciplinary pelvic specialty clinic.

What were your best and worst decisions? My best decision was saying yes to the opportunity to become a practice owner. My worst decision occurred when I was going through a challenging time. I was a new mom and was acclimating to life as a mother as well as a practice owner. We went through a slow period and I had to lay off a therapist. I was not focused on growing but rather on surviving. The situation turned out to be okay, but I wish I would have handled it differently.

What was your toughest decision? My toughest decision was to lay off a therapist.

If you could start over, what would you do differently? I would have sought out more knowledge or consulting services for the business side of the practice. I am working with a business consultant now, but that would have been valuable from the beginning as we are trained as clinicians not business owners. I would have utilized more tools and strategies for business management earlier on in my practice if I had access to the knowledge that I do now. It would have made the early years a lot more successful.

Describe your competitive advantage: We do whatever it takes to be successful. We are the only therapist-owned private practice in Fairbanks focused on pelvic health.

Describe your marketing strategy and highlight your most successful action: Our most successful marketing strategy has been focused on word-of-mouth efforts. We provide patient feedback directly to our providers that highlights the improvement of the patient in their own words. This has been a powerful tool to drive more patients to our practice. I also have a marketing director who keeps providers updated in the community about our practice.

What sets you apart from your competition? Our clinic has been in existence since 1988. We were the first private practice in Fairbanks. Our longstanding reputation as a PT-owned private practice has helped our success.

What unique programs do you offer that set you apart from the competition? In addition to our pelvic rehabilitation program, we also offer a Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction program as well as a balance and vestibular program. Recently, we added dry needling to our practice.

What are the benefits of Private Practice Section (PPS) membership to your practice? I like the content delivered in multiple formats that keeps us informed about potential health care changes on the horizon. I also like the networking and education opportunities that are available at the PPS Annual Conference. I attended conference last year and plan to attend conference again this year in Chicago.

What worries you about the future of private practice? I do not worry much. I am concerned about the financial aspects of practice where we are seeing declining payment while the cost to provide care is increasing. I see opportunity in the evolution of the profession.

What are you optimistic about? I am optimistic about the future potential growth of PT. I am excited for the future of our profession.

What are your goals for the next year? I would like to hire another pelvic health PT and another outpatient PT to grow my practice.

What do you see as the best opportunities for your practice in the future? I think an expansion of my pelvic health program will be beneficial as there is a large need for it. I think we have an opportunity to help a lot of male and female patients with pelvic health dysfunction.

What do private practitioners need to do to thrive in today’s health care environment? I think private practice owners need to learn more about the business side of health care earlier on in their business. We also need to help each other more and stop looking to each other as merely competition. If we work to strengthen our profession, we all can benefit from enhanced access to our services.

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