I was not a very good basketball player. I could shoot, pass, and dribble pretty well though. But, when I got the ball during the game and I was faced with those three options (shoot, pass, or dribble), I often panicked and chose the wrong one. Fundamentals and skills were not the problem, confidence was.
Six feet behind the arc? Seems like a good time to shoot. My teammate is double teamed and I’m open? I should definitely try to pass it to her. And my personal favorite, let me dribble into the corner until I’m surrounded by the other team.
I had almost forgotten that feeling of panic and uncertainty that came with playing basketball until I became a physical therapist. Let me tell you, PT was way worse. I now had WAY more than 3 options when it came to clinical decision-making and the fundamentals and skills weren’t as good as I wanted. My first three years as a PT were by far the most...
As 2019 comes to a close, everyone starts looking to 2020. What will I accomplish? What do I want to change? What will make 2020 the best year yet?
Along with everyone else, I’ve been asking myself these questions. But, I think they are somewhat premature. I think it is important to look back before we look forward. It is in the reflection that we can gain insight into why some goals survive the year and why some are forgotten or remain out of reach.
What did I accomplish in 2019? What did I expect/want to accomplish? What did I want to change? Did I actually change it? What were the wins of 2019 and also what were the struggles?
As I reflect on 2019, here are my wins and struggles:
Paid off my student loans a month before my goals
Practiced speaking 2 hours per week (on average)
Kept my apartment “company ready” in terms of neatness
Keeping my car clean
Being 5K ready all year
Sending 2 letters or...
My days in a typical outpatient clinic have been over for some time, but I will never forget the feeling. It felt like my hundredth patient of the day with a rotator cuff repair, and as I stood holding his arm he started telling me about his cat.
I struggled to listen to the small talk as I remembered all the notes I still hadn’t finished from earlier in the week. Worse yet, I had a week’s worth of notes to do. Did I really go to school that long for this?
This wasn’t the first time that I felt stuck with my day to day in clinic. To cope with the frustration and disappointment I felt, I let my mind wander to one of my favorite daydreams. Whenever the clinic started to feel unbearable, I would dream about going back to my lawn service business. Those summers cutting lawns were so great….
I was outside
I was physically active
When I cut the lawn, it never complained, it was never “worse” after I cut it
No one could talk to me...
I dropped my backpack and sunk into the couch.
I had held it together all day and I was now moments away from a full blown pity party. I HATE talking about these moments, but the more people I talk to, the more I realize we all have them.
I had finished an average day in the clinic. A day that in isolation would not have seemed that bad. But, it felt like it was my millionth average day in a row. I was just going into work, treating patients, listening to their problems (many not even PT related), and going home absolutely exhausted.
The monotony and emotional fatigue started an unstoppable stream of thoughts.
PT sucks. I hate work. I can’t listen to anymore patients.
I can’t listen to anymore complaints. Is it really THAT hard to do home exercises?
What about me, am I in the same place I was last year? Have I made ANY progress toward the career I want? Holy crap, I haven’t.
Seriously, is this all there is? Does an...
“How long have you been practicing?” she asked me.
“Almost 5 years,” I said, thinking nothing of it.
“Wow, I would have never expected it to be that long,” she quickly replied.
I went from relaxed to uneasy instantaneously. Wow, five years is a long time. Is she asking because I seem like a novice? Am I still a novice? I guess I’m not as far as I should be or as far as I thought I would be. She’s right, I should have accomplished more than this by now. What have I been doing for five years?
I thought all of these things in the slight pause before she followed it up with, “You look like you’re 21.”
This patient encounter happened a while ago, but the uncertainty it caused stuck around for a while. In fact, I’m not sure it ever left. I think its been there all along. Since PT school, I’ve wondered if I am enough and if I’m doing enough. The doubts and...
“What do you mean?” I asked. I knew what he was asking, but I didn’t have a response and was trying to buy some time.
He repeated the same question, “What do you want to do next?”
If I knew the answer to his question, I wouldn’t be sitting across from him in the first place. I didn’t know what I wanted.
I had recently taken my SCS exam. The first few weeks had been freeing. I could relax on the weekend without the guilt of having to study and there were huge amounts of time that hadn’t existed a few months earlier.
For some reason though, I felt lost. The relaxation and lack of stress had turned into boredom and disinterest in what I was doing. I was waking up, going to work, coming home and then getting up the next day to do it all over again. I felt like I was just going through the motions day in and day out.
This was a weird feeling for me. I ALWAYS knew what...
Anyone that knows me won’t be surprised when I say that last week was one of the best weeks. To be fair, I frequently have great weeks. My positivity is able to turn a bad week into at least a decent one. But that’s not what made this past week so awesome.
The week was extremely busy with things that had to get done and I was going from one thing to another. In the process I had one of the greatest insights of my career. So much so, that it was all I could think about and all I could talk about for the entire week. Everyone heard my epiphany (It was regarding how many months someone should wait after ACL reconstruction to return to sport.) Not only was it an epiphany, but I also found a better way to explain how to implement systematic injury prevention.
While these insights are certainly great and I'm glad to share them (click here to get notified when they are released on philplisky.com), what I think was more insightful was when I...
Barista: “HEY! I heard you’re a PT, I’m going to school for PT!”
Me: “Ah, that’s great are you in PT school now?” thinking maybe I’d see her in class in the future.
Barista: “No, I just started undergrad. “It’s worth it, right?!” she said enthusiastically smile.
Before I could answer I had a moment of panic. Surprised by the feeling, I paused. For a while, I would not have hesitated to sing the praises of the physical therapy profession, but that wasn’t what I was feeling. I was worried for her.
Here was this innocent, excited undergrad student looking forward to a profession that so many people don’t necessarily love. And she still had time. She could still get out. She could change her major if she wanted to.
I’m not one to crush dreams and I’m also an eternal optimist. And so I told her, “It will be worth it.”
Summer came and you didn’t go on that vacation with your friends. You were invited to an expensive restaurant and left hungry after ordering a small salad. An awesome continuing education course was within driving distance, but you didn’t go.
PT school loans (and often undergrad loans) suck. We go to school for seven years and can’t afford to do the things our peers do (and oftentimes, they can’t actually afford to do them either). When we finally do get an income, too much of it goes to paying off our student loans.
Since I graduated PT school, one of my main goals was to have paid speaking opportunities. It had been recommended by multiple people to take a professional speaking course as a step to achieving that goal.
Everyone raved about how much it would help me, but this wasn’t a cheap course. It cost $2,000 dollars, was only offered once a year across the country, and required four full...
Sarah was like many new graduates. She was excited for her first job and even more excited to finally be getting a paycheck. Sarah didn’t want to settle for her first job and she worked really hard to find a place that she enjoyed working.
After starting there, she was surprised at the amount of paperwork and other things she had to do, but overall enjoyed getting her patients better (many of them anyway). The annoyances were tolerable and were overshadowed by the continuing education courses and other opportunities she had. She could feel herself gaining the skills that put her next to PTs she admired, but her career wasn’t anywhere close to where she wanted it to be.
Side note: As always, we change people’s name and identifying information for privacy purposes, but the story and outcomes remain unchanged
About 18 months into her job, it started to get monotonous (maybe even a bit boring). She would go to a continuing education course, get...