Burnout in physical therapy.... Is PT school to blame?

burnout career May 04, 2019

In a previous post we discussed the truth behind apparent mastery. It evidently hit a nerve. Either people said they had felt this way or were going to pass it on to a current student. It made me wonder if we are causing the feeling of burnout in PT school.

Here’s what I think happens:

You start PT school so excited….you have worked so hard to get there. You finally get there and you know it will be hard, but maybe not this hard. It’s okay, at least you are FINALLY studying something you actually care about (not how a lens works or how many moles are in 3 grams of Copper). Then it hits. You are once again studying things you don’t care about. There are only a few classes that actually breath life into you. But you are told to bide your time because it will get better.  You believe this wholeheartedly, put your head down, and keep working toward the finish line.

You are filled with the ideas of how important what you are learning is. It is about...

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The Reframe

career Apr 12, 2019

As I was laying in bed, my eyes shot open as if I was late for something.  But, I knew I wasn’t late. Instead, I was trying to remember how I was going to start my presentation.  I ignored the fact that it was 3 am and started searching for the words in hopes to silence my uneasiness.  This experience is nothing new for me. I never have trouble falling asleep, but when I am stressed or anxious I wake up between 2 and 3 am unable to fall back asleep.

This weekend I’ll be giving a talk at the SHAPE National Conference and my doubts and insecurities won’t let me forget it.

At one time, I would have tossed and turned the rest of the night (and subsequent nights).  But, I don’t give into it anymore. I know it is not the talk itself that is waking me up, but the fear of failure that I’m trying so hard to ignore.  Ignoring it never works (for me at least). Instead, it just gets louder and louder until I can’t ignore it.

So, I...

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What I wish physical therapy students and new graduates knew about their faculty (and all PTs for that matter)

career new graduate student Mar 25, 2019

I was sitting in my office and I think my jaw actually may have hit the desk after I heard what she said. She told me she loved orthopedics, but didn’t think she was smart enough to do it. I was shocked. This was an extremely gifted student. She looked at us faculty as if we could do no wrong. She looked at us as if we had it all figured out. She looked at us in such a way that she had convinced herself she never could be like us.

This was such a punch in the gut for me. Rather than inspiring physical therapy students, we were somehow demotivating them or worse, intimidating them. We had taken the best and the brightest and made them feel like they couldn't do it. This is the opposite of what I had hoped and what I feel is my purpose. So, I want to set the record straight. I want to share this for all physical therapy students and graduates past, present, and future.

 This is the real story about your faculty:

We don't know everything

What looks like brilliance is...

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What I learned from MLB spring Training

career Mar 13, 2019

As soon as the players stepped on the field to warm up, the little kids started yelling at the top of their lungs, “CAN I GET YOUR AUTOGRAPH!!!????!?!!!?!?” While these requests were mostly ignored, a couple of players and coaches would say “Sorry, we are working right now but we will sign when we are done.” More on that later...

You can feel the excitement when the players take the field for the first time in months. The atmosphere is electric! The opportunity to be a part of spring training performance testing over the past several years has been amazing! This past year made the biggest impact on me. Here is what I learned:


The players were encouraging to each other on the field

As they made plays, they would cheer for each other. It was so amazing to see and hear the positivity especially during a practice. It made me think? Does our team cheer for each other that way? Does yours? When I ask this question of others, I frequently hear the response...

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Alligators and Your PT Career

burnout career Mar 07, 2019

“She saw 36!! And one was just lying across the trail!”

“What?!? How is this allowed?”


This was the conversation before my friend and I went to Everglades National Park.  We couldn’t believe that there were going to be rogue alligators next to us on a bike trail.  No confinement, no cages, no barriers between us and them- just us and wild alligators.

Now, I’ve seen the discovery channel and allowing this did not seem appropriate.  But, everyday hundreds of people explore the Everglades and I figured if they could do it so could I.

So we start driving to the park and on the way we see our first alligator.  I’m instantly excited. Afraid? No way, not anymore. I planned to photograph every alligator we saw.

The first two miles we were on the lookout for alligators with laser focus to make sure we didn’t miss a single one.  Those first two miles of the fifteen were glorious. We...

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The 3 Principles To Getting Your Ideal Career

career Feb 20, 2019

“You have to see it to be it.”  I recently heard this and it makes sense to me.  You see people doing what you want to do, and you work toward making it happen for yourself.  I can’t imagine something out of absolutely nothing. I need to see someone doing what I want to do to get me started.

Even more so than, “you have to see it to be it,” you actually have to, “take action to get traction.”  You may judge my rhyme, but each of us has been stuck at some point. We’ve seen what we wish we could be doing… but seeing it hasn’t been translated into being it like the saying suggests.

The problem exists when we don’t know the how part.  We see what we want to become, but so many of us get stuck because we don’t know how to get there.  That’s what happened for me. I wanted more opportunities to speak. But with no speaking experience, the opportunities weren’t exactly...

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The Biggest Mistake I Made In My PT Career

burnout career Feb 10, 2019

I need to get this out in the open.  I’ll be the first to tell you that physical therapy is awesome and that you can have an insanely rewarding career in it.  But, I didn’t always feel that way.

I’ll be honest, the moment I passed my SCS exam, was the exact moment I also realized everything I hated about physical therapy.

Let me explain...

So here’s what my path (and many of our paths) in physical therapy look like:

Get into grad school

Finish clinicals

Graduate PT school

Pass the boards

Complete a residency

Achieve board specialization


Suddenly I reached the end of this LONG plan with no where else to go.  I achieved an incredible amount, but shortly after passing the SCS, I found myself dissatisfied.  

As I was working toward residency and board certification, I rarely had time to think about anything else except the finish line.  I had tunnel vision - get to the end. But when it ended, my blinders were ripped...

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How am I doing in my PT career?

career goals Jan 30, 2019

Right before report cards were due to go out, one of my high school patients told me an elaborate scheme of how he was going to make sure his parents didn’t find out his grades. I doubt his plan worked, but it gave me a good laugh all the same.

He needed to figure out his parents’ email password to intercept the email that grades were up and then he needed to figure out his parents’ password to the school site. Once he had those, he could delete the email and block the ability of logging on the view the report card. He could get to the password by entering the name of his Mom’s first pet and also the street she grew up on. He’d then change the password and the security questions making it impossible for them to access the site. Wow.....that's an elaborate plan!

I haven’t gotten a chance to ask if it worked, but I admire his creative problem solving.

I don’t miss getting report cards, but in a weird way I kind of do. They gave me an...

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Networking 101:  Getting the Autograph of a Giants’ Legend

career networking Jan 19, 2019

CSM is around the corner, which means tons of people will enter into the dreaded zone of networking. Networking can be a painful experience. We’ve all been there. However, there is one time in my life that I executed every networking strategy flawlessly.  It was the time I got the autograph of the NY Giants’ tight end, Jeremy Shockey.

For those of you that don’t know, Jeremy Shockey was the Giants’ go-to man on 3rd and long.  If Eli Manning needed 37 yards to convert a 1st down then they were going to Shockey. He was a legend to Giants’ fans.  And if I secured his autograph it would be a major accomplishment. The quest to getting that autograph is how I mastered the art of networking.

The year was 2010 and I was at the Taj Mahal (the one in Atlantic City, NJ not to be confused with the real one in India).  I had just lost seven consecutive times at roulette when the rumors started. Jeremy Shockey was there. He had been spotted...

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For 2019 I am not using written goals like I used to

goals Jan 07, 2019

For 2019 I am not using written goals like I used to.

Yep, I said it. For 2019 I am not using written goals like I used to, and I think it is going to be my best and most productive year ever! Prior to 2018, I would write goals and fail at or abandon many of them. Sure I would achieve some, but there were many I would forget about or fail to achieve.

I was on sabbatical in the spring of 2018.  I had been warned that the time on sabbatical would fly by so I started the year with a half-day retreat to plan my year and set my goals.  I started each day scheduling my most important goals and making sure that I was strategic with my time. I finished sabbatical with a lot of good habits and while many followed me into the fall semester, I became less intentional with scheduling my daily goals. As a result, some of my goals lost traction or were difficult to fit into my day.

As I prepare for 2019, I realize that the key to success is not simply writing goals, but scheduling...

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