Advice Corner with Rich Severin, PT, DPT
One piece of advice I often tell my students is that their professional network is one of the most important resources for a successful career. Many successful people would agree that expansion and maintenance of this network are strong influencers of your professional trajectory. Success is the confluence of talent, hard work, and opportunities. Opportunities, of course, become much more available when you know people who are able to provide them, and those people are familiar with you and how you can benefit them.
Therefore, I recommend that students start branching out beyond the boundaries of your classroom and/or clinic. One of the most effective methods of growing this professional network is to develop and promote a professional brand. A professional brand is the persona you want portrayed publicly to your fellow colleagues, patients, and within your community. This persona will vary depending on your professional goals and the community with which you wish to interact, as well as clientele you wish to attract. Social media has made this easier to develop and the possibilities are endless. It took me up to my second year of physical therapy school to realize this, and since then it’s greatly influenced my professional trajectory for the good. It’s afforded me opportunities seemingly implausible for someone in their first 3 years of practice to attain. It’s also made the journey so much more enjoyable and has exposed me to more of the profession, while also making it much more intimate.
Overall, the physical therapy profession does some amazing things for patients and the health care system. This has been repeatedly demonstrated both in the scientific literature and anecdotal reports. However, despite these benefits many are not aware of the amazing value we offer to patient care. Part of this is due to how physical therapy was traditionally implemented in this country; however, some of that responsibility falls on ourselves. For too long our focus has been primarily centered on our efficacy within the clinic, which of course, has been beneficial as it has improved our standard of care. However, those benefits aren’t as effective if the public isn’t aware, and neither will our efforts to progress as a profession. The next step will be to take that focus and energy to growing our brand within the community, both locally and abroad. In a certain sense, it is promoting the physical therapy brand and developing our network as a profession. It can happen more easily, if we all work together to promote our individual brands. This is what needs to be the focus of the next generation of physical therapists. We need to change from just being physical therapists in the clinic to being providers in the community.
Rich Severin PT, DPT, is a board-certified cardiovascular and pulmonary clinical specialist, graduated from the University of Miami with his doctor of physical therapy degree in 2013, followed by a cardiopulmonary residency at the William S. Middleton VA Medical Center/University of Wisconsin-Madison, and orthopedic residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He is working on a PhD in rehabilitation science at UIC, with a focus on cardiovascular physiology and obesity. Dr Severin also serves as adjunct professor for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at South College. He has been an active APTA member since 2010, and serves on the communications committee for APTA's Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section. He is cochairman of the Sponsorship Committee for Physical Therapy Day of Service. You can find him on twitter @PTReviewer.