Response To Proposed Motion To The Student Assembly Board of Directors
In August 2016, a group of APTA Student Assembly members presented 3 motions to the Student Assembly Board of Directors (SABoD). These motions were as follows:
- That the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors fully investigate the creation of a representative body, including initiating discussions at the national level and with components to determine the feasibility of creating and sustaining a Student Assembly House of Delegates with report and analysis of barriers due at National Student Conclave (NSC) in 2017.
- That the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors report to the Student Assembly at large annually at NSC on progress made on the Assembly's Strategic Plan and seek public comment.
- That the Student Assembly Board of Directors create an initiative to educate students regarding the creation of policies and procedures, motion development, and the value of the business meeting within the Student Assembly.
In response to motion 1, APTA's Student Assembly Board of Directors have fully investigated and deliberated on the creation of a separate Student Assembly House of Delegates. The background paper can be accessed here.
In response to motion 2, the SABoD president prepares a State of the Student Assembly address that is delivered annually at NSC.
In immediate response to motion 3, the SABoD planned a general membership meeting (GMM) that was held at NSC in October 2016 to facilitate and encourage discussion of all 3 motions. With promotional help from the makers of this motion, attendance was estimated at more than 100 students. The GMM was incredibly successful and brought forth transformative discussion generating both immediate and lasting changes in the way the SABoD communicates with and informs student members. Some of these changes include the creation of a GMM at each national conference, Facebook Live updates, and increased focus on APTA House of Delegates.
- Creation of a GMM at each national conference gives the SABoD an opportunity to relay pertinent information to the Student Assembly (including progress and focus on the SA strategic plan), while at the same time presenting the Student Assembly with a platform to express ideas, comments, or concerns.
- Facebook Live updates have provided an efficient and accessible means to communicate with a large reach of students including more than 13,000 Facebook followers, over 12,000 Twitter followers, with an average of 500-1,000 views on each video.
- The 2016–2017 SABoD created an internal SABoD HOD work group as well as a task force comprised of 4 APTA student members to focus on increasing student awareness and engagement in APTA's House of Delegates. With this, a 3-part HOD webinar series was developed to educate and motivate students to participate in the HOD process: HOD 101, HOD 102, and HOD 103.
We look forward to discussing our response to these motions and welcome any questions or concerns students may have. Please feel free to reach out to Lindsey McAlonan, SPT, APTASA SPT delegate at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't Measure Your Self-Worth Against Your Patient’s Outcomes
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
By nature, we as physical therapists (PT) are focused on outcomes. We tend to be a group of achievers who have spent the better part of 10 years constantly trying to be the best in school.
We strive to make the highest grades in undergrad to get into physical therapy school, then we must make consistently good grades to graduate, so it's not hard to imagine how this environment fosters a group of people who weigh our self-worth on what we see as our "grade."
In physical therapy school, we focus significantly on outcome measures. Insurance companies want them, research studies require them, and it's an objective way to show progress. This can seem a lot like a grade in the professional world.
Not to mention, we also grade ourselves based on our patient's views of their success. Did they think they were better? Did they think what they paid for was worth it?
Most therapists who have been in practice for a few years can probably tell you the first significant failure they had as a therapist. They could also probably tell you about several patients they currently have who they feel they aren't having success with. If you asked those same therapists who the first person they made better was, they probably wouldn't be able to tell you.
We all tend to remember the bad much more vividly than we do the good. We remember the 1 complaint and forget the 10 compliments that came before it. A good therapist cares so deeply about getting their patient better, that they may at times take it personally when their patients aren't improving. When you pour so much of yourself into treatment, you can't help but feel this way.
Our profession requires deep thinking and empathy to do our job well, so how do we turn this off? How do we as professionals not let ourselves be overridden by the people we couldn't help? Instead of losing sleep over the lack of progress of our patients, we should strive to keep a positive attitude and look at the situation objectively, not emotionally. But how do we do that?
First, we need to consider our treatment plan.
Every visit should be an ongoing assessment. Is the patient responding to the treatment as you predicted? Two patients with the same demographics and diagnoses may need totally different treatment plans. Often, when progress is not being made there is 1 small component that we've missed.
Remember, even though it may seem tedious to test multiple joints, upper-motor neuron signs, and use multiple special tests, this makes it less likely to miss something. Look at each patient with a discerning eye at every visit. Let every exercise be an evaluation. You may notice something in their movement pattern that will key you in to an impairment you did not realize was there.
The next thing to ask yourself when you feel like you've hit a wall is are you using the tools at your disposal.
These tools aren't always physical things that you have in the clinic. The tools also may be other clinicians around you. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see something we've missed. Another therapist may have had an experience with a patient that would shine a light on your patient. Also, remember that sometimes a patient may just not connect with certain personality types.
As competitive as we all are, it can be hard to admit that we may not be the best person to see a particular patient. They may respond better to a different person, simply because of who they are. It is never a negative reflection on you. Each of us have different strengths, and those strengths help us to make connections with people and affect the way the patient buys into what we are giving them.
Buy in is incredibly important to the patient.
It does not matter what you do for them, if they don't believe what you are doing will help them, it won't. It is important to set clear expectations with the patient early on to let them know what they can expect from treatment. If they have factors that may make the course of their treatment different than the average, tell them. In your initial evaluation, give the patient an idea of what the treatments will be like, and most importantly, why. The average person may not understand why we would be doing hip strengthening for an ankle sprain. To them, the treatment may seem misplaced and they can easily become discouraged.
If the patient's attitude about therapy is positive, it is more likely your results will be too.
Lastly, there is one resounding truth that we all have to accept: physical therapy cannot help everyone in every circumstance. If it could, there would be no other treatments.
I can specifically remember the first time someone told me this. I was in my first year of practice and a patient was taken away from me by their physician and sent to their in-house therapist. I was devastated. I felt like I had failed my patient, failed my employer, and in that one moment, felt all of my confidence slip away.
A senior therapist pulled me aside and let me in on this truth. We have to remember that there are circumstances out of our control. We can do everything right, we can try every tool and resource at our disposal, and the patient simply may not respond. There are a variety of things to keep in mind that research tells us can negatively affect treatment. What is the time between onset of symptoms and beginning therapy? Is there secondary gain at play? Are there lifestyle factors negatively impacting treatment? Is the patient compliant with their program? Is the impairment we are treating simply beyond what therapy can help? Any of these factors can affect your treatment, regardless of what wonderful treatment you provide.
In life, not just in therapy, we must keep our focus on our successes and use our failures to learn and grow. Every patient who we feel we have failed carries a lesson. Taking those lessons and using them as opportunities are what make an excellent therapist.
Michelle Jones Landry, PT, DPT, is currently practicing at Melanie Massey Physical Therapy in West Monroe, Louisiana. You can find Michelle on Facebook or Instagram at: @michellelandry12.
Finding Your Niche
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Today, I am the proud owner of my very own private practice, Girl Fit Physical Therapy and I'm working with a patient population and in a setting that I have a passion for. That's today, though. It wasn't always that way.
I've known that I wanted to be a physical therapist since I was 15-years old, and I never looked back.
When I entered physical therapy school I was dead set on pursing pediatrics; however, throughout physical therapy school I kept falling in love with every different thing we learned. I went from the girl who never changed her mind, to feeling a little lost and confused when graduation came around.
When I was in school, residencies were really gaining popularity and I felt like I had to do one in order to be a good clinician. I had a problem, though. I didn't know what I wanted to do yet. Because I was still unsure of my career path, I knew it wouldn't be wise to pursue a residency. At least not yet.
With some advice from a mentor, I decided to "create my own experience." I was reminded that our profession is so vast and varied, it allows us to work in so many different settings with different populations, and more.
After graduation, I decided to take a job where I had done one of my clinicals, an orthopedics and sports private practice, where I had an excellent mentor. He agreed to let me work just 4 days a week so that I could also work at a children's hospital doing inpatient pediatrics, another of my interests.
I made a point to surrounded myself with good mentors, I said "yes" to every opportunity, I put my head down and worked hard, and I soaked up everything that I could.
About a year later I received a call from my friend, Becca, someone who I met through APTA. (Side note: We've since become BFFs.) She said: "Kate, I heard about this job you should look into." Fast-forward 3 months and I was a traveling physical therapist with Broadway shows. I had the awesome opportunity to work as a cast physical therapist for Broadway shows like the Lion King, Wicked, Come Fly Away, and War Horse.
After a couple of years of traveling off and on I was tired and ready to settle down. Again, I was faced with trying to figure out what I was going to do in my career.
I spent time thinking about my experiences and what I enjoyed about each one of them. I really loved the kind of problem-solving found in orthopedics, I still loved working with kids, and I had a big interest in athletes. I felt like pediatric sports medicine could be the right job for me.
My head was spinning with so many continuing education courses, hands-on mentorship opportunities (that I was very lucky to have), and APTA conferences that I squeezed into my first 3 years. I decided to reach out to Becca once again. This time, I wanted a study partner for our upcoming orthopaedic clinical specialty certification (OCS) test.
Getting my OCS at that stage in my career was perfect for me. It did exactly what I hoped it would do. It organized everything I had learned in school, continuing education courses, from my many mentors and through work experience in the context of evidence-based practice. Honestly, I really think it made me a better practitioner.
I ended up working for the next 3 years at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in pediatric sports medicine. Then my husband got his residency in Boston, so we packed up, bought some sweaters, and headed north.
I didn't know anyone in Boston except Laura, another colleague I met through APTA. She immediately got me involved in the Massachusetts Chapter of APTA, but I still couldn't find a pediatric sports medicine job that fit me perfectly.
A year ago I decided to take a leap into starting my own private practice.
I called my mentors, did a ton of research, and decided to go all in on my niche practice with the patient population I loved treating most. I'm now the owner of Girl Fit Physical Therapy, specializing in adolescent female athletes, and have 2 other amazing physical therapists by my side.
After years of career soul-searching, I finally feel like I've found what I was supposed to do all along.
So how did I do it? I surrounded myself with mentors of every kind, thought outside the box when it came to my setting and clientele, and seized every opportunity that came my way.
I hope that you will do the same and more as you start to create your own journey.
If you want to hear more from Kate or to hear more about how to find your niche within the physical therapy profession, join us on Sunday, October 15, at 6:00 pm ET for our October #XchangeSA chat.
Kate Hamilton, PT, DPT, is owner of Girl Fit Physical Therapy. You can find them on Twitter at: @girlfitrocks.