Purpose: The purpose of this study was to capture the meaning of professional success to experienced physiotherapists practising in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Methods: Using a qualitative, phenomenological approach, 10 physiotherapists from the GTA each participated in a 60-minute, semistructured, face-to-face interview. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the vanKaam method, modified by Moustakas.
Results: Participants described success as “moving forward,” a dynamic and evolving experience that extends throughout an entire career. Study participants identified three markers of professional success: positive patient outcome, career advancement, and advancement of the physiotherapy profession. The experience of moving forward toward success applied to all of these markers and was driven by making choices. Choices made throughout a career were influenced by mentorship and self-reflection.
Conclusions: The physiotherapists in this study described different indicators of success than have been described by other health care or corporate professionals in the literature. Success in the physiotherapy profession is experienced as a circular rather than linear process. Physiotherapists, professional organizations, and employers have a role in fostering professional success. We suggest the introduction of mentorship and self-reflection programmes early in one's career, focusing on the three markers of success: patient outcomes, career advancement, and advancement of the profession.