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...
Over the past few months, I have heard one common heartbreaking theme expressed by many of our coaching clients in the Bulletproof Career Rebellion. Frequently, they share similar statements followed by some tears. Statements like the following seem to be more common than any other topics discussed.
“I know this makes me a bad PT, but I just don’t want to be in the clinic full-time.”
“I hate to say this, but I really don’t want to treat patients full-time five years from now.”
This just breaks my heart. Not for the reason you may think. You would think I would be sad that they don’t want to be in patient care anymore. That’s not it. I am sad because they feel guilty for wanting to fulfill their dreams. I feel badly because these individuals assume that if they don’t want to work 9-5 in the clinic then that’s all there is and all there will be. If you have ever felt this way, stop blaming yourself and know that there is...
Many of us know the feeling. You don’t want to get out of bed on Monday morning and when you finally do, the dread of going into work is like anticipating a practical exam. During PT school, you swore nothing would be as bad as having to take practicals and you counted down the days to when they would be a thing of the past. But then something happened. You found yourself in a job you don’t love realizing that you would rather do a practical exam than go into work… yeah, your job feels that bad.
If you have a job that makes you miss the days of being a stressed student with no paycheck, I feel for you. Feeling like you hate work is not something you signed up for when you gave up seven years of your life and a ton of money. But, I have to tell you something important. Hating your job may be the fastest way to having the one you love. Hating your job may be a good...
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.
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...
“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...