Debbie Reed, PT

Debbie Reed, PT, is a Private Practice Section member, as well as owner and president of Advanced Rehabilitation, Inc. She can be reached at

Practice, Location:
Tell City, Indiana, with outpatient clinics in Tell City, Santa Claus, Jasper, and Richland, Indiana.

Tell us about your practice.
Founded in 1988, we have 12 full-time and 3 part-time amazing employees. Our outpatient clinics are located in small rural communities with populations of 10,000 or less.

What is the most influential book and person that enhanced your professional career?
Two books that influenced my practice are Good to Great by Jim Collins and Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. Good to Great has helped me as a manager to focus on not only hiring the right people, but also making sure they are placed in positions that help them reach their highest potential. Who Moved My Cheese? has helped me to focus on embracing change and looking for the opportunities in it. If there is one thing certain in health care, it is change. One of the people most influential in my professional career is physical therapist Dennis Isernhagen. He has been my colleague, mentor, and friend and has helped me develop my expertise in work injury prevention and management.

Describe the flow of your average day. Do you treat patients and how many hours a day/week?
Without regret, I freely gave up treating patients about 10 years ago. My clinical time is spent providing work injury prevention and management consulting services to an industry where I have been privileged to meet some amazing people. The remainder of my time is spent working with my administrative staff to manage operations.

What is your essential business philosophy?
I started my practice so I could be more responsive to my patients’ needs and give the people living in the rural communities that we serve the opportunity to receive quality physical therapy services close to home. I have also strived to create a culture that supports our employees creating a balance between work and home life.

What have been the best/worst/toughest decisions?
The best decision I made was opening my practice. The worst decision was opening my practice with another therapist who I was only introduced to (by a mutual friend) just prior to opening the practice. The toughest decisions are when to help employees see they are “not on the right bus.”

How do you motivate your employees?
I do my best to lead by example and give them room to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow both personally and professionally. I once had an employee tell me, “You not only grow physical therapists, but you grow people.”

How did you get your start in private practice?
I had been out of physical therapy school and working in a hospital setting for two years when a friend contacted me about a physical therapist he knew who wanted to start a private practice in my hometown. I contacted him, we started the practice, and one year later I was sole owner.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?
I have always felt each entity has its strengths and weaknesses and if we as an organization focus on doing what we do really well, we will be successful. I am mindful of the competition but do not focus on staying ahead of the competition. I also look for ways to expand services based on the interests and expertise of our staff.

What were your best learning experiences/mistakes since inception of your practice?
My best learning experience was when I was put on complete bedrest for 12 weeks during my third pregnancy. At the time, all of my employees reported directly to me, I was seeing patients full-time, and I was doing management functions when I had time. I was completely overwhelmed and ineffective. I hired a consultant to help me develop a management team and systems for reporting and managing by metrics. I learned to let go and trust the capable people on my team.

What are the benefits of Private Practice Section (PPS) membership to your practice?
PPS membership and attending the annual conference has given me the opportunity to meet, network, and become lifelong friends with some of the most outstanding people in our profession. PPS has helped me keep my practice positioned well and adapt to changes in health care.

What is your life motto?
“It is all about the journey.”

What worries you about the future of private practice/what are you optimistic about?
I have the same concerns about payment as I have had since I started my practice: the inequality of payment for the same services provided in different settings. I am optimistic about the expanding role of physical therapists in the industrial setting.

What are new opportunities you plan to pursue in the next year?
With Indiana being the last state to enact direct access legislation, we are continuing to focus on educating our clients and community on accessing our services without referral. We will also continue to grow and expand our work injury prevention and management services. 

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