One way to get unstuck in your career

burnout mentoring Jan 16, 2021

“I would have contacted you, but I didn’t have any concrete action steps or questions, so I didn’t want to waste your time,” She replied to me reaching out to see if she wanted a mentor meeting.

 

I asked if she was stuck. She said, “Yes, I don’t know my next step.” We met and it turned out to be one of our most productive mentoring sessions.

 

I learned a lot through this interaction. Part of being on a journey toward your ideal career is that you frequently don’t know what’s next. And that is when you need high quality people who are on the same journey around you. That means that some are ahead of you, some are behind you, and some are right with you on the path.

 

That group, along with your guide, can see things that you can’t. I used to think that answering questions was one of the most important parts of mentoring. Actually it's not. It is being there and being understanding when the person is stuck,...

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You shouldn’t go into PT

burnout career Jan 11, 2021

“You shouldn’t go into PT,” I overheard a physical therapist telling a college student.  

 

I had been eavesdropping since I heard the student say that she loved observing and was almost certain that she wanted to go into the profession.

The PT went into detail about there not being enough money, that there is no longer job security, that there is no flexibility, and that you don’t have as much freedom as you’d want. It was for over five minutes that he continued trying to convince her not to go into physical therapy.

I took a quick glance in her direction and immediately saw the disappointment on her face.  She told him she’d think about it and I don’t think she spoke again the rest of the day.

I don’t want to argue about whether or not what he said is true.  And I’m not saying that there isn’t any truth to it.

But, if you hate the profession so much that you would destroy the dreams of a college...

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New Semester, New You

dear pt students Jan 11, 2021

Dear PT Students,
 
During PT school, “New year, new me” wasn’t my go to saying. However, “New semester, new me,” was. At the beginning of each semester, I swore it would be different. I would study ahead, read more, keep track of deadlines better, get up earlier, and not constantly wish I started things earlier.
 
Those first two weeks of those semesters were always glorious. I was prepared and organized. And then after that first test or the first assignment the wheels would fall off and the semester would never be the same. Everything would go back to procrastination and “that’s due WHEN?!”
 
It wasn’t that I lacked motivation or that the novelty wore off. It is that I never put any systems in place. I swore things would be different, got organized, but then repeated the same pattern as the before. I had a plan for how to start the semester, but I didn’t have a plan for how I’d continue...
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How to Reflect on 2020

career Jan 03, 2021

I’ve read two different ideas about how to reflect on 2020 - the first I hated... and the second I loved.

The first idea said something like, if you didn’t hustle in 2020, you don’t have what it takes in you.  It said that if you didn’t work harder than you ever have before then somehow you don’t have what it takes.  I couldn’t disagree more.  2020 was a time for survival.  A time where you constantly had to adjust and respond to things you never saw coming.  When you are in survival mode, it is hard to “hustle” and hard to grow.  So, don’t beat yourself up.

The second concept I think is great.  In an email from Jon Acuff, he recommends grading the year on a curve.  When a test was harder than anticipated and when the outcomes were skewed to one end, you often get a curve.  2020 gets a curve.  

Maybe you didn’t start your own practice like you wanted, but you picked a...

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Are you frustrated in your career as a PT?

burnout career Dec 12, 2020

I think at one point in time or another we are all looking to have that great career. It starts with a dream or maybe a plan in high school or college “to be something.” For most of us, that “something” was to be a physical therapist. Over the years, the meaning of “being a physical therapist” changes. Frequently it can change from a dream to boredom or worse change into a nightmare.

When we get out of school, many times PT is not what we thought it was going to be. 

At some point we get disenchanted. We find ourselves saying things like:

Is this all there is?

I can’t see myself doing this the rest of my career

There has got to be more

I don’t want to be a PT anymore

We then look for a change. Change jobs, change cities, change careers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always help. 

In Episode 21 of the Movement Podcast, Jenna Gourlay, Gray Cook and Lee Burton discuss their career paths. It was amazing to me to hear the...

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"Don't Get Old"

“Don’t get old,” she told me as she struggled to get out of the chair and grabbed onto my arm for balance.  


First of all, she wasn’t old in my opinion.  She was sixty-seven.  But, that’s not what bothered me.  I hear this said a lot during the day.  So many patients want to blame their age for all of their physical difficulties.  And I get that I’m not aging like they are yet and cannot truly understand their experience.  Whether right or not, I still get frustrated.

Smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and an overall neglect for her body may be more to blame than simply the passing of her sixty-seven years.  Especially when she told me in the previous session that she only drinks diet coke and hasn’t drank water in fourteen years.  She said it like it was some kind of accomplishment as if she beat the system.  They say you need to drink 8 glasses of water, but I don’t...

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Is owning your own practice the only way to get the freedom you want?

“I guess I need to start my own practice,” Matt told me.  He sounded completely defeated.  He had just finished telling me how frustrated and bored he was at work.  He wasn’t getting paid enough, his loans were growing rather than shrinking, and worst of all he felt like he was going through the motions at work.

 I’ve had this same conversation with so many people over the years and I’ve said the same thing as Matt before.  

Here’s the thing, you’re not alone if you’ve ever thought that starting your own practice is the only way out.

Maybe you’re bored and don’t want to keep doing the same thing day in and day out.  Maybe you want more money, but the gradual incremental (and small) raises aren’t enough.  Maybe you want more freedom in your schedule and you want to control your schedule rather than your schedule controlling every aspect of your life.  Or maybe you dream of...

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Failing Does Not Mean Failure. What You Do Next Decides That.

dear pt students Nov 27, 2020
Dear PT Students,
 
The distribution of grades from our first anatomy exam was written on the board when we entered lecture. There was an overwhelming majority of A’s and only one person failed.
 
I sat there feeling bad for that one person. It was one thing when you failed a physics exam in undergrad that over half the class also failed, it was another thing to be the lowest grade by a substantial margin. And then we got the tests back...
 
I was the one. I failed my first exam of PT school. It was devastating, embarrassing, and made me question if I had what it took.
 
My confidence was shattered immediately and it was VERY disorienting. My success had always been linked to my identity and in the matter of one test I didn’t feel good enough.
I went to see the professor (as instructed on the top of the exam). She told me one thing that I still remind myself of often.
 
“Failing does not mean failure. What you do next...
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I LOVE my patients, but I don’t always like patient care….

burnout career Nov 21, 2020

It is 8 am and my day is about to start.  I’m well rested, I went for a run this morning and I just leisurely finished my cup of coffee.  Life is good or it should be…

No matter how great of a morning I’m having, I still don’t want to start my day of patients.  There’s nothing out of the ordinary on the schedule, no double bookings, no shortened appointments.  But, while I’m well rested, I just don’t feel like I have the emotional energy.

I don’t feel like making small talk today.  I’m not in the mood to listen to patient reports.  

But, I go grab my 8 am from the waiting room and before she is even out of her chair she is telling me how much worse she is.  This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  I don’t want to talk about symptoms until we are back at a table.  Yet, she spends every single one of the 200 steps toward the treatment area telling me how bad she hurts.  I...

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You are not alone feeling this way

dear pt students Nov 20, 2020
Dear PT Students,
 
“What non-musculosketal cause might you worry about if this was your patient?” the evaluator asked me.
 
Sitting in front of me was my practical patient that was complaining of neck pain. You know what questions feel like during a practical. You’re on edge and may not even feel 100% sure if the evaluator was asking your own name.
 
All that stood between me and being done with the practical was this single question. I was almost done. My brain was in panic mode though and my mind was blank. Here’s my thought process: Okay, neck pain red flags. Neck = Cervical spine. Red flags = almost always some sort of cancer.
 
“Cervical cancer.”
 
My patient laughed. The evaluator looked down trying to hide a smile. And I stood there completely oblivious.
 
As you finish your semester, your practicals, and your final exams remember that you know the answer. You’ve prepared, you’ve...
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