Run Toward Something, Not Away From Something

Dear PT Students,

 

Run toward something, not away from something.

 

PT school can get old.  You’re not making money, you can’t take vacations like your friends, and the work does not end.  It is only natural to WANT it to end.

 

I don’t know any PT student that wanted to stay a student forever.  Many are counting down the practicals, the exams, and the days until they finally sign DPT after their name.

 

But, focusing on PT school ending makes you miss some really great opportunities while you are there.  Rather than trying to get away from PT school, start looking toward life as a PT.  Don’t try to run away from PT school, think of it as moving toward PT status.

I know it is only a slight difference.  Yet, looking forward to starting life as a PT is more likely to get you to volunteer at the school clinic to get more reps, can result in studying MSK for your future patient and not just for a grade, or may...

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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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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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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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PT Autonomy or Monotony?

burnout career Oct 03, 2020

At my work, a texting system is the main communication between the front desk and the therapists. When a patient arrives, we get a text or if there is a walk-in evaluation we will get a text. Sometimes a text will simply be an update or a question, but for the most part, it alerts us that a patient has arrived.

So, at 7:56 am my phone vibrates. I take it out and my 8 am patient is here. This continues one after another after another.  Your patient is here.  Your patient is here.  Your patient is here.  At 11:27 am, I feel the vibration and instead of “your patient is here” it reads “we need more clipboards if anyone has any.”  I’m met with a sigh of relief.  It isn’t my 11:30 patient.  I have a minute to myself.  The relief I feel is significant.  I shouldn’t be this excited that the front desk needs clipboards, but I am.  It is a break in the monotony.

The morning, the day, actually the...

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Having trouble balancing life? You are not alone

burnout career life balance Jul 16, 2020
 

I have no idea why I still remember this memory so vividly today. It was over a decade ago, but for some reason it made an imprint...

“I haven’t been here in a while,” she said sheepishly as if embarrassed. I took her membership card and scanned it. “Have a good workout,” I said as she walked into the locker room.

I looked at the login screen, she hadn’t been into the gym for 19 days and before that it had been over a month. I looked at her birthday and quickly did the math. She was 28 years old. I remember thinking to myself, “That will never be me.” I couldn’t understand how someone could be a member and could go an entire month without coming to the gym.

I remember thinking about that moment in undergrad when I’d stay out most of the night and still make it to the gym. I thought about that moment in PT school when I kept my workout routine even on the busiest of weeks.

But, then residency came and I remember skipping...

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The Maze of PT

burnout career uncertainty May 28, 2020

You can always depend on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore to have some weird attraction you are willing to spend money on.  One of the most memorable was a maze, but instead of walls, it was filled with mirrors.  You are basically surrounded by an infinite number of your own reflections in all directions.  It was difficult to know whether there was a wall in front of you or not, because the mirror screwed with your depth perception. Now, that would have been hard enough to navigate through. 

However a group of us wanted to make it near impossible and also highly dangerous.  We wanted to see who could get through the maze fastest.  

So, we all took off as fast as possible.  Within seconds, each of us was met head on by one of the mirrors.  Then you’d bounce off, turn, and go another way eventually running into a mirror again. 

By the third or fourth collision you learned to slow down your speed to prevent permanent bodily...

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