Private Practice

Lang Working on his computer.

Bryan Lang’s older sister is a physical therapist.

So, of course, he resisted her encouragement to explore
the field.

“I love her to death, but you don’t want to always follow in your big sister’s footsteps,” said Lang PT ’13, MHA ’14.

Still, it was her prompting that eventually led him to the field — a field where he now owns a clinic with his sister as a partner.

“A lot of people come to the profession because they got hurt and have experience with PT,” Lang said. “I didn’t have that experience. I just really liked science.”

He thought about medical school but wanted to be established in a career faster than that path would allow. He enjoyed the academic side of pharmacy but discovered on a job shadow that the practical side wasn’t a good fit.

Finally, as an undergraduate at Oregon State University, he shadowed a physical therapist in Corvallis.

“I loved it,” he said. “You can build a rapport with clients better than other health professions. You’re on the road to recovery for them. You can really make a difference in someone’s life, both physically and mentally.”

Lang, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, applied to several PT schools, but Pacific University was his No. 1 choice. He got in, then decided to hedge his bets by dual enrolling in the master of healthcare administration program.

"It's definitely been a crazy learning curve. There's so much more involved than you can ever prepare for."

“It’s a good degree to have,” he said. “And, it was a reasonable cost since I’d already put the money into the PT program.”

Lang said he graduated from the PT program on a Saturday and started work at a clinic on the following Monday morning. For a year, he’d work during the week and go to his MHA classes on the weekends. He kicked around the idea of someday owning his own practice.

Then, a colleague connected him with Jim Arneaux, another physical therapist looking to sell his practice in Northwest Portland.

“I gave him a call and said, ‘I’m not really sure I’m interested in buying, but I’m interested in learning the process to buy a practice,’” Lang said. “I asked if he would talk to me about his experience, the steps, and his 30 years of practice.”

What he discovered was a colleague who was incredibly nice, patient-focused and very interesting in ensuring that the practice maintained a high quality even after he had sold it.

Ultimately, Lang teamed up with his sister and another physical therapist to buy Whole Body Health Physical Therapy. It was a bit of a risk, he said: They’re young in the profession, and they’re working to build a client base, as Arneaux has been ramping down for several years.

“It’s definitely been a crazy learning curve. There’s so much more involved than you can ever prepare for,” he said. “Everyone knows you have to have a business plan and have equipment, but there’s credentialing and a compliance book. Are you going to do electronic medical records? What are your workflows? It’s a lot of trial and error.”

It’s been less than a year, though, and Lang and his partner are planning for the future. They’re going to take out a wall for a
little more space. They’re getting ready to take on a physical therapy student. And they hope to get a front office staffer, at first part time, then at expanded hours.

“For me, it’s totally worth it,” he said. “I don’t regret anything.”

WATCH | Bryan Lang shares his route to success

This story first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Pacific Magazine. For more stories, visit

Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015