Michelle Dupree Zumbro, PT, DPT

Michelle Dupree Zumbro

Michelle Dupree Zumbro, PT, DPT, is a PPS member and the owner of Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy in Willmington, North Carolina. She can be reached at ptinwilmington@gmail.com.

Practice Location: Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy, Wilmington, North Carolina

Size of practice (# of locations, employees): 3 locations, 28 employees

Years in practice: 25 years

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere with outdoor adventure

Favorite superhero: Wonder Woman

How do you like to spend your free time? I love everything outdoors with my family; the beach, running, paddle-boarding, snow skiing, and hiking. I also enjoy downtime reading, dancing, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with my dogs.

My most Inspiring PT leader: My previous physical therapy rehab director, Leslie Kesler, PT. Although she was no longer performing patient care when I worked with her, she was still closely involved with both patients and staff alike. She impressed upon me the importance of continual interaction, display of compassion for her employees, and creating a family environment. She loved to laugh but also instilled the importance of professionalism, continued clinical growth and development of the clinical staff. My business partner, Beth Connell, PT, DPT, and I were fortunate to work under her and have aspired to carry on these qualities to our present staff.

What I find myself doing differently after PT practice ownership: I now find myself looking at data, Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA), listening to physical therapy practice and clinical podcasts during car rides. I have less time for leisure reading as I juggle between clinical reading, online courses, and data/reporting analysis. When I have a vacation now it is a joy to dive into a recreational read again!

My secret to continuing to love the field of PT after 25 plus years: Continued learning and specialization. Studying and obtaining knowledge/credentials in specialty areas has kept me continually interested in practicing physical therapy. Also surrounding myself with a terrific staff of physical therapists has continued to keep my passion for patient care alive.

My secret to continuing to enjoy being part of a private practice after 11 years: Continuing to put the patients first, having staff that is hard working and like family as well as starting the practice with a business partner who is like-minded, diligent, and who balances the practice.

What concerns me about the future of private practice PT: I feel it is vital that government and insurance leadership determine health care policy to better understand the importance of physical therapy interventions. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the Private Practice Section (PPS), physical therapists, and our patients need to continually advocate the value of our services. It is important that smaller private practices be able to obtain fair reimbursement rates and contract adjustments as compared to larger practice entities. I am also concerned about the student loan debt that new physical therapy graduates have.

What do you find optimistic about the field of physical therapy? I see new PT graduates who are extraordinarily motivated to provide excellent care and to continue to learn. Their knowledge of differential diagnosis and evidence-based practice is encouraging. Technology makes it much easier to obtain latest research, Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs), and will expand physical therapy practice possibilities with telemedicine.

How do you measure success?

  • Clinically: Hearing success stories from therapists about patients, getting our daily NPS (Net Promoter Score) with written feedback, and continuing education.
  • Financially: Doing practice data with goal comparison weekly on visits/new evaluations and monthly on expense per visit, income per visit, net income, and EBITDA. This has changed a lot since the clinic inception: Initially I did not track practice data regularly but began doing so about 5 years ago. Setting time aside to analyze data and finances had allowed for markedly improved insight on how to allow for practice growth.
  • Personally: Being able to go on vacation and have days off knowing that the staff in place is doing a wonderful job. Also enjoying personal milestones and activities with the staff outside of the work day has been an extra joy for me.

Memorable moments opening a private practice:

  • My business partner and I were working at the local hospital outpatient clinic prior to opening the business. During lunch one cold January day, I had to go to the outside parking lot in my wet bathing suit and aquatic therapy robe to meet a real estate agent to sign for the three-year lease for the new business. We had no patients for our proposed practice. We had families with young children, yet there we stood outside in the cold signing these papers with determination that we could make our newly conceived practice work.
  • The sound of our fax machine turning on in the early days of the clinic. Before electronic faxing, it was a glorious sound each time we heard the fax machine whirring, which meant we were getting a new referral. I’ll never forget that sound!
  • Attending Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) and then PPS Annual Conferencing for the first times after we started Bodies in Balance PT. Networking with fellow practitioners and clinic owners has been invaluable and led us to have a model of requiring Board Specialty Certification for our staff within three years of employment.
  • Our 10-year anniversary in 2018 gave us time for reflection; having our therapists getting married, having babies, physical therapy techs go to physical therapy school and becoming wonderful physical therapists. We have grown from two practitioners/clinic owners into a tremendously close diverse family whose focus continues toward the best, evidence-based, quality physical therapy services.