Keep on Moving
Snehal Tobkes (B.S.’00, D.P.T. ’04) has faced numerous challenges on her path to opening and running her own business, including a hurricane and COVID-19. But she has taken it all in stride. As the owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy, she is passionate about helping her patients and continues to expand her work even in the face of the pandemic. She spoke to The Box about her experience at New York Institute of Technology and as an entrepreneur.
Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose physical therapy?
I am a first-generation immigrant from Mumbai, India. I came to the United States in the early 1980s, and my parents moved from Queens to Syosset, N.Y., around that same time. Many family members on my father’s side are in health care, so it was in my ‘blood’ so to speak, that I continue in medicine. One summer, I decided to volunteer at a physical therapy clinic, and it turned out to be a perfect fit from day one. I loved chatting with people as I helped them through their exercise routines and watched as the physical therapists transformed people’s lives. Being a part of that transformational process and being around brilliant people who taught me so much about movement and mobility, it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
What attracted you to New York Tech?
I chose New York Tech to finish my undergraduate degree [in interdisciplinary studies] and then to apply right away for entry into the physical therapy program, which had an excellent curriculum for manual therapy, my main interest. New York Tech was also one of the first colleges to offer a doctorate level degree in physical therapy.
You now own your own practice. Can you talk about what you did before?
After graduating, I went on to work in several physical therapist-owned clinics, one physician-owned clinic, and the North Shore (now Northwell Health) Hospital system. I also had the great privilege of working as an adjunct for the New York Tech Department of Physical Therapy. Then, in 2011, I decided to open the doors to my clinic, Kinetic Physical Therapy, and started building a practice in Huntington, N.Y. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy put a hold on that! It took another year to get past the post-Sandy economy’s downturn and another few years to make a profit as the private insurance companies began to limit and underfund physical therapy services severely. It was a challenging time in my life, but it all changed for the better in 2013 when my fiancé, who had been deployed in the armed forces, returned. We got married, and Kinetic Physical Therapy began to flourish.
Why did you name your business Kinetic Physical Therapy and what is it like running your own business?
My business model for Kinetic was to keep people moving, and the inspiration for calling my business ‘Kinetic’. A body in motion stays in motion! In April 2019, I opened the second Kinetic PT location in East Meadow, N.Y. I worked at both locations as the treating physical therapist and wearing all the business owner’s hats, lead marketer, web page designer, and recruiter. Things were going well at this new location, and I was ready to hire my first physical therapist. But much like what happened to me back in 2012 at the Huntington location, in March 2020 the COVID-19 shutdown was here. Disaster had struck again! This time I had to make a drastic decision to keep the doors open for the people that needed me and depended on me. I made the very tough choice to close the doors at Huntington and remain at the larger, centrally located East Meadow location. I was able to start seeing people in person for emergency care during the latter part of the shutdown while maintaining social distance precautions and re-opened fully in July 2020. Currently, I am able to see patients in-person or online.
What excites you most about your job?
It impacts people’s lives for the better and helps them make good choices for their well-being and health. I saw this for myself when a physical therapist helped my dad, who had fractured both of his wrists after a terrible fall, recover and function again as a dentist. He felt he would never work again, but the PTs he worked with motivated him and encouraged him to reach his goals. It’s something that I love to do for people, show them what their potential is, and help them to achieve the thing that they were unable to do because of pain or injury.
Although it is very challenging, identifying the personalities and devising the ‘plan of attack’ to get through to people is a labor of love, but the reward is worth it. When I help a person to be able to go back to what they have been missing out on and the genuine appreciation they show you, it’s what keeps me going as a physical therapist and healer.