About week ago I was standing looking out at Niagara Falls with some of my favorite people. I wasn’t on vacation, I was working. And I wasn’t just working. I had traveled with colleagues to Buffalo to use the Y-Balance Test (one of my "professional babies") for testing the players at the NHL Combine. This wasn’t my typical Thursday, but its not completely unusual either. However, if you asked me what I was doing 15 years ago on a Wednesday afternoon, the backdrop would have appeared a lot different than the 8th wonder of the natural world and professional sports.
15 years ago I was in the clinic full time. I was working a typical schedule and imagining a day with more athletes, more flexibility, and honestly something different. I remember thinking maybe PT was no longer for me. I still remember the level of frustration on one particular day when I was doing passive ROM on what felt like the 20th rotator cuff repair of the day.
They say ignorance is bliss and I have to say that when it came to my loans, this statement couldn’t be more accurate. At the end of PT school, I remember sitting in a presentation about loans. The speaker discussed how credit card debt was like bad cholesterol and student loans were like good cholesterol. I’m a sucker for analogies and took this sentiment in full stride. I had good cholesterol. Nothing to worry about. Nothing needed to change.
So for the first three years of repayment, I looked at my loans as necessary and harmless- they were just another expense to be paid monthly. I set myself on a graduated plan that would increase every two years, selected autopay, and made sure the $520 was included in my budget every month.
I remember wishing I didn’t have loans, but found solace knowing that this was the only way I could have become a physical therapist. And while it was lousy, I was paying for an education I valued highly. So, I...
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...
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.
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...
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...
“She saw 36!! And one was just lying across the trail!”
“What?!? How is this allowed?”
“I DON’T KNOW”
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...
“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...
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
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...
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...