Do you want to make an impact in physical therapy?

When I first became a physical therapist I used to constantly think, "I could've come up with that."  I'd pick up The Stick, the BOSU ball, and so many other pieces of equipment and wonder how it became so widespread.
I've never actually wanted to create a piece of equipment, but I've always had the desire to leave my mark on physical therapy.
I spent the first few years of my career trying to figure out "my thing."  I wanted to be an expert in something, I wanted to uncover something new, and I wanted to leave the profession better than when I came into it.  
I still want to leave a legacy, but the how part seems so elusive.  Phil and I talked this week about how you can make an impact on physical therapy and how he came to develop the Y-Balance Test.
I'll give you a hint... it doesn't come down to a single "ah-ha" moment.
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I don't know if you're anything like me, but day after day I find myself saying some form of:
But, suddenly my biggest reason of "if I only had more time" is GONE.   And, what I've realized is that it may not have been a reason, but more of an excuse.  I've had A LOT more time these past few weeks and I still haven't worked half as much as I could on the things that are important... on things that I consider dreams.
I've heard the same thing from so many I've mentored in the Rebellion, we've all said some form of the following...
"I'd start my own practice, but I have no time to plan."
"I'd love to learn the XYZ inside and out if I had more time."
"I would take XYZ course if only there was more time."
"I'd create a running seminar if I had more time."
"I would learn more about strength and conditioning, but there's not enough time."
"If I had more time" is actually right now, it's...
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PT Used to Suck

I want to tell you about Ted (his name and identifying details have been changed, but the rest is the same).
On the first call with Ted, he told me that PT sucks and that he felt lost.
It wasn't that he didn't know what he was doing or even that he didn't know what he wanted to do in PT.  The problem was that he didn't know how to get there.
It was hard to listen as he blamed himself for how he felt.  He felt guilty about how annoyed he was with his current position.  
Ted was describing The Life Cycle of a PT or the first half of it at least.  He wasn't sure what was next, his expectations weren't being met, and he felt stuck.  
These aren't uncommon feelings, but what comes next ultimately defines how you progress as a PT.  The first thing Ted had to do was believe that things could be different.  By doing this, he entered into the second half of The Life Cycle of a PT or...
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Does this make me a bad PT?

Years ago, I remember talking with Phil in the final months of residency.  He asked me if I could create the career I wanted, what would look like?
I only had a partial picture at the time and I went home to think more about it.  I remember writing down working with athletes, a flexible schedule, hour long treatment sessions, and wellness visits.  I was in the infancy of figuring out my ideal career, but for some reason I still felt like something big was missing.  In fact, I knew something big was missing.  But, I didn't want to admit it.
I didn't want to treat patients 40 hours a week.  I didn't want to see patients all day long.  
And I couldn't help thinking, does that make me a bad PT?  I was only 1 year into the profession and already wanting to decrease my treatment hours.  It made me start to doubt my future in PT.  If I'm one year in and don't want to treat full-time, do I even...
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Why doesnโ€™t the excitement from CSM last?

Have you experienced it yet? That sinking feeling when you get back from CSM.

While I am at CSM I always feel so invigorated and excited about PT. Then you get back to the day to day grind of PT and all that passion and positivity seems to fade away. At least that is how I used to feel.

Why do we feel so good when we are there but that feeling never lasts as long as we would like?

I first thought it was because we were learning new things. It has been said that those who are continually learning have much more career happiness. But that can’t be all there is to it. If that were the case, watching online continuing education courses would be enough. Don't get me wrong, I get a lot out of online continuing education like MedBridge, but it does not fulfill one of our deepest needs --- community.

We were meant to be in community. We were not meant to do this PT career thing alone. What we do as PTs is hard. It is emotionally draining to listen to people tell you about all their...

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How to take the plunge even when you're scared

I think the experience of stepping outside my comfort zone in my career can be best compared to riding the H2-Oh-No slide at the waterpark as a child.  If the H2-Oh-No slide doesn’t ring a bell, I’m sure it will. It is the highest slide at the waterpark that drops straight down. If you ever went to a waterpark as a kid, you can picture it… and if not here is a picture (also it looks scarier in person, I promise):

So here’s a play by play of what it is like to experience the H2-Oh-No.  You start talking about going on it for the first time with your friends (it took you an entire year longer to reach the minimum height requirement so they’ve all done it before). 

But, you’re excited. You’re feeling so brave and you know that this is the year. THIS is your time to face your fears and drop 1000 ft at 100 mph (it's not that high or that fast, but that’s what it feels like).

The excitement is palpable.  You take the...

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I hesitate to even write this post

I hesitate to even write this post. I am afraid it will be taken as boastful. I am also afraid that people won’t want to hear the point of the post. But I am going to do it anyway because I think this message is so essential for our careers. At least it was a turning point in mine.

It was 19 degrees with below zero windchill. Earlier in the day I had gotten windburn on my face from just walking around a bit. The kids and I were on the way home from basketball practice and there was a car pulled off the road with its hazards on. What a horrible night to be stranded!

So I rolled down my window and asked if they needed help -- a mom and her two kids had a flat tire. So I got out to help (they didn’t have gloves, coats and hats).

I didn’t do anything special. I just did what most people would have done. Interestingly enough, I hate working on cars. Even worse, I hate changing tires without the proper tools. Using the jack that comes with a car is an exercise in...

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Is your lack of confidence holding you back?


I was not a very good basketball player.  I could shoot, pass, and dribble pretty well though.  But, when I got the ball during the game and I was faced with those three options (shoot, pass, or dribble), I often panicked and chose the wrong one.  Fundamentals and skills were not the problem, confidence was.

Six feet behind the arc?  Seems like a good time to shoot.  My teammate is double teamed and I’m open?  I should definitely try to pass it to her. And my personal favorite, let me dribble into the corner until I’m surrounded by the other team.

I had almost forgotten that feeling of panic and uncertainty that came with playing basketball until I became a physical therapist.  Let me tell you, PT was way worse. I now had WAY more than 3 options when it came to clinical decision-making and the fundamentals and skills weren’t as good as I wanted.  My first three years as a PT were by far the most...

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How to make 2020 the most successful year yet

As 2019 comes to a close, everyone starts looking to 2020. What will I accomplish?  What do I want to change? What will make 2020 the best year yet?

Along with everyone else, I’ve been asking myself these questions.  But, I think they are somewhat premature. I think it is important to look back before we look forward. It is in the reflection that we can gain insight into why some goals survive the year and why some are forgotten or remain out of reach.


What did I accomplish in 2019?  What did I expect/want to accomplish?  What did I want to change? Did I actually change it?  What were the wins of 2019 and also what were the struggles?

As I reflect on 2019, here are my wins and struggles:


Paid off my student loans a month before my goals

Practiced speaking 2 hours per week (on average)

Kept my apartment “company ready” in terms of neatness



Keeping my car clean

Being 5K ready all year

Sending 2 letters or...

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The Grass IS Greener At The Other Job

My days in a typical outpatient clinic have been over for some time, but I will never forget the feeling. It felt like my hundredth patient of the day with a rotator cuff repair, and as I stood holding his arm he started telling me about his cat. 

I struggled to listen to the small talk as I remembered all the notes I still hadn’t finished from earlier in the week. Worse yet, I had a week’s worth of notes to do. Did I really go to school that long for this?

This wasn’t the first time that I felt stuck with my day to day in clinic.  To cope with the frustration and disappointment I felt, I let my mind wander to one of my favorite daydreams.  Whenever the clinic started to feel unbearable, I would dream about going back to my lawn service business. Those summers cutting lawns were so great….

I was outside

I was physically active

When I cut the lawn, it never complained, it was never “worse” after I cut it

No one could talk to me...

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