Millennial Mindset Changing Health Care
As a Millennial, sometimes I joke that I was born in the wrong decade because of my affinity for Marvin Gaye and Frankie Beverly band, Maze. As with generations before mine, the younger generations tend to get a bad rap: Critics contend that Millennials are entitled, too fast-paced, transient, and lazy, and they scoff at our participation trophies.
But Millennials are undoubtedly key contributors in the workforce, across all disciplines and fields. Studies have shown that we are helpers, doers, activists, tech-literate, collaborative, and left-brain dominant. We give back to the community just as older generations have done, but rather than donating to institutions we are more likely to support causes we are passionate about. According to the Millennial Impact Project, health care is among the top 5 issues we care about, along with civil rights, climate change, education, employment, and immigration.
With all of this collective energy and interest igniting our generation, Millennials have a unique opportunity to impact health care, specifically the physical therapy profession, in a meaningful way. And the beautiful part is that you don't have to be a Millennial to adopt this mindset!
This is an excerpt from an APTA #PTTransforms blog post entitled, "Yes, We Can: How a Millennial Mindset Can Help PTs Improve the Health of Society." Read the full essay here.
Valerie Rucker, PT, DPT, currently works within an outpatient department in Washington, DC, and is a member of the DC Physical Therapy Association.
A Secret to Overcoming Stress: Volunteer
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
My first year of physical therapy school was rough. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and worried over everything.
Did I study enough today? Am I going to get a good grade on my exam? How am I stacking up against the rest of my class? These thoughts constantly bombarded my brain.
I quickly realized that my free time outside of school was limited. Between classes, labs, group projects, meetings, and studying, there's little time to even sleep, eat, and take time for yourself, much less add any extracurricular activities.
As the year went on my stress and endless thoughts piled on. I knew that I had to do something.
Prior to my physical therapy school life, I always enjoyed volunteering. And while volunteering is so rewarding and fulfilling, my student-self thought, "But where's the time?" a question that quickly became "How can I make time to help others?"
Murphy Deming PT/OT/PA students volunteering at a local food pantry.
I found joy in volunteering by being part of something bigger than myself.
Once I was able to find an hour here and there to giving back in numerous ways, I soon remembered how relaxing and uplifting volunteering was.
What I didn't realize, though, was that volunteering would become my single greatest stress-reliever during my time in school, thus far.
My passion, similar to others, is helping other people—something that led me to a career in physical therapy—and also is a driver for my time serving my community. I have found the joy that I can bring to others by volunteering my time surpasses any stress level, negative feelings, or bad day.
One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time. During one of my busiest semesters, I took an hour out of my day, 1 day a week, to serve dinner at the local mission. That 1 hour a day was the highlight of my week. It allowed me to get outside of my school bubble, to help others, and remind me of why I chose physical therapy as a profession.
PT/OT students created "Family Fun Run & Games" annual event to combat the obesity epidemic in Augusta County, Virginia.
I knew that I had to get my classmates involved. There are 70 students combined in the PT/OT class of 2019. If everyone volunteered 10 hours a year for 3 years—the equivalent to 1 event a semester—we would hit our goal of 2,019 service hours.
Not only that, but we challenged the next year's class, the class of 2020, to hit 2,020 service hours by the time they graduate.
To date, the class of 2019 has 1,603 hours with 1 year to go!
PT/OT students created "Fall Risk Prevention Screening" in partnership with Augusta Health Hospital in Fishersville, Virginia.
Once a week, once a month, anything will help.
My advice to you, the stressed-out student, is to call a local food pantry, the local YMCA, Special Olympics, a 5K race, a pet shelter, or a nursing home to volunteer for a day, once a week, or once a month. Find an organization and a cause that you feel passionately about and that will benefit from your time. If you need ideas, just ask!
My hope is that others become inspired to volunteer as well. Set up an event for your classmates—you'll find volunteering with friends fun and rewarding.
After you volunteer, you forget that you were ever stressed, overwhelmed, or fretted about a test.
Dedicate your time to a good cause and get your mind off that test you took 3 weeks ago.
Trust me, when you volunteer you are overcome with humility, compassion, and the desire to serve others, which is why we joined this profession in the first place, isn't it?
If you need help finding partnerships or organizations to volunteer, contact APTA's Community Service Committee.
Kat Ziemke, SPT, is a student at Mary Baldwin University and serves on APTA's Student Assembly Community Service Project Committee. You can connect with Kat on Twitter at: @KatZiemkeSPT.
The Injury That Changed My Trajectory
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
A shock of excruciating pain radiated from my knee to my upper thigh. My basketball teammates called for help.
When the school nurse arrived, she confirmed my fears, "You tore your ACL."
I remember crying harder than I had ever cried before.
As captain of my high school basketball team, my coach and I led the team to 2 regional championships and expected to compete in a third one. For months, I challenged myself and teammates to run faster, lift heavier, and shoot more accurately, but after my injury, the coach placed me on the sidelines and I gave up my position as team captain.
Blaming fate for prematurely ending my up-and-coming basketball career, I was blinded by my own suffering. Absorbed in self-pity, I struggled with adapting to this new lifestyle, one that included regular visits to see my physical therapist.
I remember arriving at the physical therapy clinic and quickly noting that people there, despite the various injuries and conditions, could very much relate to my physical and emotional pain.
From patients with limbs amputated to patients with stroke, everyone had disabilities that prevented them from enjoying the tasks they loved; for me, it was basketball, but to others, it was singing or swimming.
Feeling a sense of empathy and camaraderie, we cheered each other on with encouragement and optimism—very much like my days playing basketball. As we each reached our incremental goals and conquered our pain through a team effort, I recognized the shallowness of my self-centered worries and discovered the gratification in helping others surpass life's obstacles. Motivated by a newfound interest in service, I decided to apply the values acquired on the basketball court to a clinical and nonprofit setting.
After regaining the ability to walk, I coordinated a service trip, partnering with Gawad Kalinga, an organization in the Philippines that builds homes for the poor.
During a stay in the Philippines, I met Nina, the 11-year-old daughter of my host family. One night, Nina and I left the house for a stroll, but our lighthearted exchanges turned into a serious conversation about the hardships her family had endured. She talked about her alcoholic father and sickly mother, but not once did she resent her situation or curse her unwelcomed fate. Instead, Nina's conviction to end domestic violence and restore her broken family fortified my desire to support the underserved community.
Seeing that Nina's strength and courage conquered even the most trying obstacles, I recognized her pain as a universal condition and wanted to equip others with a strong will to overcome their difficulties. I realized that inspiring stories are constantly around me. No matter how different, how educated or uneducated, how poor or rich others are, they have something valuable to teach me, just as I have something to share with them. It is only a matter of if I look for it and through what mind-set I perceive it.
After returning to Taiwan, I continued to explore a curiosity for service by applying my rehabilitation and community service experiences to the basketball court. Recognizing the need for a therapist on the team, I helped my teammates tape limbs and retrieve ice packs, and demonstrated a warm-up routine to help avoid potential injuries, shown to me by my physical therapist.
As my teammates came to rely on my assistance, I realized how important knowledge of physical therapy benefitted them. While my basketball career ended abruptly, my passion for physical therapy was just beginning.
After entering college at Northwestern University, I expanded my exposure to physical therapy by volunteering as a rehabilitation aide at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab.
Recalling my experiences as a patient and a volunteer at Gawad Kalinga, I understood that patients often found therapy unanticipated and emotionally tolling.
By empathizing with the patients and encouraging them through genuine conversations, I addressed their emotional and physical needs. After volunteering in the hospital, I realized that a career in physical therapy and, specifically, neurorehabilitation would not only encompass my love for movement, but also serve as a channel to empower others with motivation and encouragement.
Jonathan Tsay, PT, DPT, is a recent graduate of Northwestern University. You can connect with Jonathan on Twitter at: @tsay_jonathan.
How Identifying Culture Can Help You Find Your First Job
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
As a student, I was very involved in APTA's Student Assembly, and I ran for APTA's Student Assembly Board of Directors. I served on multiple committees and a national task force, participated in state and federal advocacy, and attended as many conferences as possible.
My mission was to improve access to physical therapist services through patient care, advocacy, education, and research. This was the passion that fueled my successes as a clinician and student.
When physical therapy school came to an end and it was time to find a job, I was worried that my employer would force me to drop my professional activities to focus only on patient care. I brought this concern to a few of my mentors.
Steve Anderson, executive coach and former CEO of Therapeutic Associates, gave me some good advice. He said, "Your first job is important because it will set the trajectory of your career. Choose wisely."
I took this advice seriously and began looking for an organization that valued the same things I did—APTA involvement, constant learning, mentorship, and evidenced-based practice.
I interviewed with many organizations that just didn't feel right to me. Eventually, my search led to Kevin Hulsey, CEO of RehabAuthority. He agreed to meet with me at APTA's Combined Sections Meeting and we chatted about our visions for the profession. He asked about my dreams, philosophy, and endeavors. I inquired about RehabAuthority and its culture and expectations. After our 2-hour chat, I knew that this was the place where I wanted to work.
My time at RehabAuthority, discussions with leaders in health care, and personal research has taught me that organizational culture influences success.
Based on these lessons, I believe there are 3 questions new graduates must answer when deciding if a company is a good fit: (1) Do the organization's purpose, mission, vision, and core values align with who you are and what you want to accomplish? (2) How do you define and characterize the clinic's culture, and is it a culture in which you want to participate? (3) How does the company demonstrate that it values its employees?
When looking for a job, it is essential for new graduates to examine and understand the culture of an organization in which they are interested in working.
Galen Danielson, COO of RehabAuthority, defines culture as "the things we do around here to succeed and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior."
Culture encompasses many behaviors within an organization including treatment of patients, communication between staff and customers, values, thoughts, relationship with the community, and roles each employee plays within the company. These characteristics all define how a company thinks and feels.
Here are some tips to help you determine compatibility with an organization's culture:
Visit the company's website. A company website can reveal a lot about them. Is its language patient-centered? Is there a page dedicated to current or prospective employees? What variety of services or opportunities exist within the organization? Examining the answers to questions like these can help you identify whether this is a job opportunity that you want to pursue. Companies that heavily value employee happiness and success prominently display this. Usually, they will encourage team members to be involved in professional development and empower staff to pursue their passions.
Assess how an organization's mission, vision statement, core values, and purpose fit with you as a professional. The foundation of an organization is built on these 4 ideas, which should be regularly communicated and discussed among staff. A strong organization will use these principles to select the right people to maintain a specific culture. These principles can be defined as:
- Mission: What the organization does
- Vision statement: Where the organization is going, and how its leaders will know when it will get there
- Core values: Who the company is
- Purpose: Why the company exists
The specificity of these ideals may vary. Fitting them to an individual requires an intrinsic understanding of personal and professional goals, aspirations, philosophy, and beliefs.
For example, the core values of RehabAuthority include having fun, valuing the profession, embracing learning, helping people, feeling good about the work they do, and being pleased, but never satisfied. When looking for my first job after graduation, I was very attracted to the specificity of these values. They were easy to understand, and most importantly, described me and what I thought was important in becoming a leader in the profession.
Spend time observing in the clinic and getting to know staff and leadership. Culture can be felt, identified, and described. A common theme with successful businesses is a successful culture, which is set by management, reinforced by employees, and experienced by patients. A good way to understand an organization's culture is to experience it for yourself. Spend time observing how employees interact, how physical therapists treat patients, how satisfied patients are with their care, and how happy staff are in their jobs. How is the clinic managed? Do the employees trust the organization's leadership team? These are questions that can help you understand the clinic culture and decide if you are compatible with the organization.
My employment at RehabAuthority has now spanned 3 years. They have supported me in attending conferences, advocating at all levels of government, and participating in committees.
When looking for your first job, be wise. Understand the culture of the work environment and make sure that it fits your needs, wants, and goals. Your employer should empower you to participate in the activities that feed your passion. In return, this empowerment will likely improve your productivity, your job satisfaction, and the experience you provide for your patients.
Stephanie Weyrauch, PT, DPT, MSCI, graduated from Washington University in St Louis and is a physical therapist at RehabAuthority in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. She has served on numerous local, regional, and national committees and task forces. She also manages social media accounts for APTA's Academy of Physical Therapy Education and PT Day of Service. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TheSteph21.