In Your PT Career, Are You a Runner or a Jogger?

career Dec 12, 2018

I’m about six weeks into training for my first half marathon and one thing has become particularly clear- I am not a runner.  You see, there are recreational joggers and then there are people who are runners.  These are not the same thing.  Runners are the type of people who “just” run five miles.  Any time running five miles is preceded by the word just, that person is definitely a runner.  Runners check the weather to see what to wear on their run, joggers check the weather to see if they are going to run.

I admire runners.  It is like they are a different breed and not because they have some different physical trait.  The difference between a runner and a jogger is not the speed at which they run. No, being a runner is not a physical marker, but a mentality.   Runners approach running differently. They have a completely different mindset.

In physical therapy, I want to be the equivalent of a runner.  Just as...

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What Autonomy?

burnout career Nov 01, 2018

“There’s nothing I can do,” I proclaimed adamantly.

It was the end of July and with the summer months had come the much promised drought of athletes.  School was out, most sports were on a break, and a majority of athletes were on vacation.

I noticed the number of athletes on my schedule begin to decline, but I was in denial that I would be affected by what everyone told me was coming.  

By no means do I dislike my other patients, but active individuals are my favorite to work with.  Having a few throughout the day is exciting and makes me that much better for my non-active patients.

Yet, I suddenly found my caseload had one lone active patient.  I was in a clinic with at least six other therapists that also wanted a similar caseload.  Between the summer months and the competition, I knew my caseload was doomed. The worst part, I couldn’t see an end in sight.  I kept getting unlucky with the evaluations that were on my...

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Is THIS All There Is??

burnout career Oct 31, 2018

Graduate PT school, check. Complete a sports residency, check. Pass the SCS exam, check.

My resume was growing, but my engagement in physical therapy was shrinking. The last two months had been spent studying for the Sports Certified Specialist Exam. It was the last thing on my list of things to accomplish. And now that I had, I felt disappointed. Is this all there is?

My notes were done, I wasn’t tired, and I didn’t feel burnt out. But, I had no excitement for physical therapy. Doing a residency and passing my specialty exam was supposed to inspire me, but here I was just going through the motions day in and day out.

Continuing education courses suddenly became my drug of choice. I’d feel so good after going to a course that I would convince myself I needed more. I kept going to courses, feeling excited about what I learned, and then slowly losing interest. I repeated the pattern over and over, but eventually realized it was only a temporary solution.

I knew I...

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Is It Friday Yet??

burnout career Oct 29, 2018

“Is it Friday yet?” I proclaimed jokingly at 8:45 on Monday morning. Truth be told, I was only half joking. I was already counting down the hours until lunch at which point I would then start counting the hours until the end of the day. More than likely, I would then start counting down the days until the beloved Friday appeared.

I didn’t think much of it. I wasn’t alone. I exchanged similar texts with many friends. I considered myself normal. Everyone loves the weekend.

But, I went from looking forward to the weekend to needing the weekend. I would hit this wall on Wednesday that was nearly impossible to get through.

Halfway through Wednesday, I would find myself impatient, annoyed and frustrated. It would take all of my energy not to check out. Feeling exhausted, I would use Wednesday-Friday nights and the weekend as a way to recharge.

I’d watch Netflix, go out, and do anything to take my mind off physical therapy. If I wanted any sort of engagement...

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My Secret That I Can’t Admit As A PT

burnout career Oct 28, 2018

“How long have you been a PT?” my patient asked as we started to wrap up her initial evaluation.

“Almost two years” I answered.

“Do you like it?” she continued.

“I do.” I raised my voice slightly and repeated, “Yeah, I do.” I added a reassuring smile and a slight head nod at the end of the statement.

We finished chatting, she walked away to schedule her next appointment, and I went to the back office to sit down. My elbows met the desk and my hands found my forehead immediately. I was tired after a long day, and now I also felt uneasy. Could she tell? No, I think I sold it.

I looked around to see if anyone had overheard our conversation or had sensed any of my insincerity. Nope, everyone seemed busy. I exhaled in relief. My secret was still safe.

The last thing I wanted my co-workers to know was that I didn’t like physical therapy. Really, I didn’t want anyone to know. Who spends seven years in school and...

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What is the ONE thing you should be doing?

career Oct 21, 2018

I’m sitting on an airplane right now.  I have been for a little over an hour and that’s after sitting in the airport for seven hours.  I’m not worried about the flight taking off as much as I’m worried about the upcoming week. I have a lot to accomplish and not as much time as I’d like to get it all done.  It is not only that I have a lot of things to do, but I have a lot of different things.  I’m going to write, make slides, film, grade, review material for an upcoming weekend course, and treat patients.  Sometimes I can’t help but think that going in multiple directions is a bad idea. It seems appealing to only have to focus intently on one thing.

Over the weekend, I heard the saying, “He who chases both rabbits catches none.”  I’m certainly chasing more than one rabbit. I found myself questioning not necessarily the amount that’s on my plate, but the variety.  Should I focus on...

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Do PTs need a professional mentor?

mentoring Oct 12, 2018

My career right now is pretty great.  I like what I do, I work with amazing people, and the flexibility allows me to be involved with my four boys on a daily basis.  But, the journey to get here was not a straight line nor a direct route. No, it was more of a wandering path. You could say that I took the scenic route, only the scenery really wasn’t that great at times.  There was a lot of indecision, frustration and really a lack of guidance. So, do PTs need a professional mentor? No, you don’t need one. But, you don’t need a map or a GPS in a new location either, although it helps a ton.  I didn’t have a designated professional mentor through much of my career. However, I believe I would have been able to get where I wanted in my career much faster (and with less disappointment/frustration) if I had a professional mentor.

Here’s how it usually goes… You graduate from PT school and start a new job. On your list of must-haves...

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To The PTs That Wish They Had More Time

productivity Oct 06, 2018

I wish I had more time I thought to myself for the hundredth time.  The last few weeks have seemed to require more time than I’ve had to give and it has been all I could do to stay afloat.  There was no time for reading, my place saw disarray reminiscent of my teenage years, and I could barely get the necessities done.  

I’ve been swearing for weeks that “I just need to get myself together.” Yet, the past weeks have not presented any opportunity to do so. A few years ago I felt similarly and so I tracked how I was using my time.  I remember being shocked that I found 10 extra hours to put toward my two highest values of growth and relationships.  When I did this again recently, some extra time appeared, but not 10 hours.

I think we all wish we had more time.  No matter where we are in life, time always seems scarce.  So, how do we find more time in our already busy days? We don’t find time, we optimize it. And, I...

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The Triple Threat of Quality Mentoring

mentoring Sep 29, 2018

Almost everyone is seeking a great mentoring relationship. Whether you are a mentor or want to be mentored, it can be challenging to foster a high-quality mentoring experience. A great mentoring relationship is such an elusive thing.

I have found 3 characteristics of high-quality mentoring relationships. Shared experience, mutual vulnerability, and showing up can result in the meaningful mentor/mentee relationship we all seek.  This triple threat is not something we look for but rather can take steps to develop.

Shared Experience
I think the most important quality of a great mentoring relationship is shared experience. I have always admired those who have served our country. I am amazed at military units that bring people together from all walks of life and geographic locations and yet become and remain best of friends. Certainly, shared life-threatening experience causes a relational and emotional bond that can't be described. But I think it goes deeper than that. When you are...

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How to Overcome PT Documentation

burnout Sep 13, 2018

This was NOT how I wanted to spend a Sunday. The previous week’s documentation had piled up leaving me with a screen full of unfinished notes. This was nothing new. It seemed like most nights and weekends were spent catching up on documentation. To say I was annoyed by documentation was an understatement, I was angry over it. And while I was sick of it, I knew there was no escaping it. Yet, there was an escape, just not in the way I hoped….

As we sat in the stands, we argued about when Bon Jovi would play Livin’ On a Prayer. We debated when, not if they would play the song. Bon Jovi can’t do a show without playing their signature song, fans would revolt. That’s when it hit me- how difficult it must be to play the same song over and over with the same intensity as the first time. Bon Jovi first played the song in 1985 and most recently played it September 2018 during their current tour. It cannot be enjoyable to play a song upwards of 1500 times and...

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