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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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 29, 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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