Blaser Physical Therapy is an independently owned outpatient physical therapy practice specializing in orthopedic and spinal rehabilitation, as well as sports injuries, pediatric and neurological conditions, and women’s health.

Blaser Physical Therapy has been voted the Best Physical Therapy Practice in Northern Virginia by Virginia Living Magazine. We asked Kendal Blaser, Owner of Blaser Physical Therapy, what sets her physical therapy practice apart from other physical therapy practices in Northern Virginia. You can read what Kendal told us below, or listen to our recorded interview with Kendal.

Listen to our interview with Kendal Blaser

Kendal, how did you get interested in physical therapy as a career?

I was a physical education major in college in Maryland and I was not completely satisfied with the coursework. It was not as scientifically oriented as I was looking for and I consulted with the dean of the school and he steered me in the direction of physical therapy. I’m from Baltimore and when I talked about this with my parents my mom had a connection at the Kennedy Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and I was able to get a job there that summer after my freshman year of college and work in the physical therapy department.

And when I experienced the culture of the department, the physical therapists, the patients, the kids, the team camaraderie and the uplifting work atmosphere there, I knew that that physical therapy was what I wanted to do.

So I continued to work at the Kennedy Institute for Handicapped Kids at Johns Hopkins University for four summers through college until I got into physical therapy school. And I still have very fond memories of those summers.

After I graduated from PT school, I took a job at a small community hospital in Fredericksburg, VA — Mary Washington Hospital, which is now a huge complex but at the time it was very small. I worked in a small orthopedic clinic in the hospital as well as seeing patients on the floor. That is what we consider to be acute care.

Next I went to another orthopedic practice in a hospital that was closer to home, and then finally to a private practice in Warrenton. A group of orthopedic surgeons had an off-site physical therapy practice and after I had my first child I worked there for 3 days a week. They later sold that practice to a national chain and the dynamics of the practice changed. The volume of the patients they would be seeing was expected to significantly increase — which I believed would end up decreasing the quality of patient care. So I broke off and did home health for awhile.

It was during those two years of doing home health that I got the crazy idea — 11 years into being a physical therapist with no business experience — to open my own practice. So it was really by the seat of my pants.

I was inspired by a patient of mine who was a business person to make that leap of faith, and off I went. That was in 1996 so I’ve been in business for 22 years now.

It has been a very exciting 22 years and I have learned a lot.

It is very challenging to provide the quality of patient care I am committed to providing to each of our patients when you are dealing with insurance and third party payers and Medicare regulations. But I’ve decided in the last six or seven years that I am going to stick with it to the end. I am not going to sell my business because it would mean losing control of the kind of care that I want my legacy to be … which is putting the patient first and treating them as they should be treated in health care.

I have a great staff that is young and passionate and energetic. They reflect my own values in patient care and that gives me comfort. So as long as I can make payroll and pay the rent, health care is not a very profitable form of business. Not that I ever went into it for those reasons, but that is why all these other doctors and hospitals are selling out to large corporations — because they are having a very difficult time staying afloat financially.

We are packed. We have no room on our schedule, and I am about to look for another physical therapist. So it is not a matter of volume — the real challenge is that reimbursement is so low. You have to be very conservative with your spending and watch every dollar. I am still very involved in running the business as far as overseeing administrative and payroll and IRA plans and profit sharing plans.

What Sets Blaser Physical Therapy Apart from Other Physical Therapy Practices?

It’s our entire team’s commitment to deliver the best patient care. We don’t measure success by getting more patients on our schedule or generating more charges. Success for us is putting the patient first. I also feel very strongly about being a patient advocate, in that if the health care system is not guiding them in the right direction, we are here to help them with that.

We sit down with each patient individually and speak with them, eye to eye and face to face and ask them how they have been since their last visit. Did anything new happen to them? How are they feeling now? Do they think the physical therapy is helping them?

We do that each and every visit as a reassessment. Otherwise we are not going to be able to create and continue that treatment plan to meet their needs so they can reach their goal.

That individualized personalized attention is not the norm in health care today – not just physical therapy practices. I think everyone can appreciate that because they see their doctor looking at their laptop, and even though we use our laptops as well, I try to set that laptop aside at some point during the visit and give my patients my undivided attention. And I think a lot of patients don’t feel like they have that personal attention in their medical appointments.