APTA Financial Solutions Center: Student Experience
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
I'll be the first to say that I haven't always made the best financial decisions while in physical therapy school. Besides living off federal student loans, I have credit cards and sometimes splurge on items that I don't need.
This new Financial Solutions Center (FSC) offered by APTA is exactly what I needed to understand what smart spending actually is, and how to successfully get myself out of debt in a timely manner.
The FSC offers 2 financial resources to all APTA members. The first is the Enrich platform that provides financial education, and the second is the Student Loan Refinancing Program, provided by Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB).
Enrich is personalized for the individual and very easy to use! As soon as you log in for the first time, you are directed to a series of questions that tailor the content provided to you based on the financial resources you need.
The modules are very simple and straightforward. The estimated time for the financial capability course that was selected for me was 4.5 hours, but I completed the entire thing in just over 2 hours.
Each module has an informational video, possibly an infographic or calculator, and a quiz. The sample calculators provide you an idea of your personal financial situation in just a few minutes.
The other resources on Enrich are also great. My favorite one so far is the simple budget worksheet. All I had to do is download the template and add in my own expenses. So fingers crossed that I start to stick to my budget and begin saving for my future!
Saving and investing are 2 topics they have a ton of content on, which is great for when we graduate and begin earning a paycheck.
Even if you don't have a lot of spare time, completing just 1 module or only watching a short video once a week could make a huge difference in your financial future.
There are blogs or videos on just about any financial topic you can think of. A couple of articles that I will be reading soon include: "The Ins and Outs of Tuition Reimbursement and Loan Forgiveness," and "The Four Biggest Student Loan Repayment Mistakes Graduate School Students and Post-Professional Candidates Make."
They also have countless calculators for just about anything, including a savings growth calculator and a credit card payment calculator.
These new resources from APTA are extremely easy to use, and I encourage everyone to at least log in and explore the site; the financial resources are priceless!
Gillian McLean, SPT, attends Wingate University and is a member of the APTA Student Assembly Financial Literacy Task Force and National Student Conclave Project Committee. You can find Gillian on Twitter at: @gilligggan_spt.
Courage, Commitment, Compassion: My Journey to Becoming a PT
Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes
I am a first-generation United States citizen and college graduate.
I am the first person in my entire family to get a college degree. Moreover, I just graduated and became a doctor of physical therapy.
Me at my physical therapy school graduation!
I'll admit, it's been a long, complicated journey full of hurdles and challenges.
I was born into a poor family and raised on the south side of Phoenix, Arizona. Here, few are encouraged to seek a higher education, and even fewer ever get there. I did not respect myself or find worth in my gifts while growing up in this environment.
I grew up not really knowing when my next meal was coming. Often, our meals were cereal, saltine crackers, bread with butter or sugar, and Ramen noodles.
I know this life all too well and I know that I am not the only one. All my friends growing up were in similar situations.
I was essentially raised by my older brother, who was only 4 years older than me. This was not because my parents didn't care for us. It was because they worked all the time to keep us afloat.
When people say, "I was raised by the streets…," they aren't lying. I didn't have a curfew. I didn't have to let anyone know where I was going. I didn't call when I wanted to stay the night at a friend's house.
My parents and family aren't bad people. We play the hands we are dealt. We love each other.
I remember there were weeks when I interacted with my parents in legitimate conversations for about 1-3 hours collectively. I remember waking my mom up from a deep sleep (after she worked a double shift) to tell her I was going to school. She always smiled and said, "I love you and I am so proud of you. Do good in school today."
This was my life for years until I was 15. That year, my brother was murdered due to gang-related violence and my parents lost our home due to foreclosure.
Understandably, I was depressed, stressed, angry, hurt, and unsure about my future. So I did what I always did—I stayed at school as late as I could.
I was never the best athlete, the smartest student, the most popular, or the best at anything really, but I doubled down on a few qualities that have helped me get to this point in my life.
I want to share these with you in hopes that they may inspire you to reach a little further, push a little harder, and accomplish your goals as future PTs or PTAs and as an individual.
The self-fulfilling prophecy: Courage must outweigh fear.
"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is real, but fear is a choice." -Will Smith, After Earth
To contribute something valuable, fear, anxiety, and nervousness do not need to be absent. I have these feelings every day regarding the future, but my courage, determination, and grit are greater. I set very high goals and I continue to press on when everything is telling me to stop or turnaround.
You can do this too. Think strong, intelligent, competent, lofty, positive things, and they will come to you like a magnet. Trust me, it's hard to do when you're in the thick of it, but just remember how powerful our minds and internal dialogue truly are.
"We are what we think about all day long. Once you understand this, you will start to get very careful about what you think about. You won't allow yourself to linger on thoughts that you don't want or you wouldn't want to manifest in your life." -Dr Wayne Dyer
I write my goals down and put them in a place where I am forced to see them every day. Yes, with old-school paper and pen. I also break them down into smaller, more achievable goals. Finally, I get as detailed as I can with my goals.
After all that, I make a point over time to continuously ask myself, 'If I am going to get there, what can I do this week to get myself closer to it?'
Each time I reflect, I visualize myself succeeding and think about what it will mean to me when I get there. It keeps me fueled and focused.
"If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hands." -Steve Harvey
My sessions of positive self-talk aren't as awesome as this, but I may have to try it soon.
Find someone better than you, stick to them, humble yourself, and let the magic happen.
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves." - Steven Spielberg
Find a person who is full of passion, grit, and love and let them pour into you. This applies both professionally and personally. When you are ready, the right person will enter your life and change it forever.
My mentors literally saved my life! Since I was young, I have searched for qualities in people that I admire and I copied them. The people you surround yourself with will constantly remind you of who you are, so surround yourself with people who make you proud.
Choose peers who won't tear you down, but provide constructive, and at times, critical feedback. Do your best not to get defensive or negative when this happens. Take it with stride and learn to improve and excel based on what's said.
Nothing demonstrates strength better than putting your pride aside and accepting such feedback. When you can put the relationship and common goals before a selfish agenda, you will grow exponentially.
Choose compassion for yourself and others.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama
You've heard sayings like: "Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
It's true that you will never know exactly what's going on with everyone all of the time. Whether it's in a professional sense when treating a patient or in a personal situation when you're with a friend, seek compassion and empathy. Your patient may be in substantial pain when they come to see you.
Let them know that you acknowledge that and you empathize with them. Even in cases when communication isn't as clear or the person isn't really telling you exactly what's going on, choose to be open and receptive, if and when they decide to speak.
I would be remiss if I didn't also advise you to be compassionate with yourself. Physical therapy school is hard, yet so rewarding. Our profession is the same. But know there will be long, hard days ahead, and you might not excel or succeed every day. Be okay with that.
Live a life of service for others.
"I feel it's a responsibility for anyone who breaks through a certain ceiling... to send the elevator back down and give others a helpful lift." - Kevin Spacey
Give, give, give, give, give, and when you feel like you have given everything, when the well is dry, when you question if anyone cares and self-doubt starts to set in, have the courage to give again.
It is easy to give when you are in a place of happiness, peace, and positivity, but admittedly it's difficult when you are in need, down, or in a negative place. Know that and acknowledge that.
These moments define our life. Always give before you ask. People will remember what you did for them and give back to you when you need it most.
Chase your dreams.
"So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practically. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I am the proof that you can ask the universe for it…You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." -Jim Carrey
I want to represent what is possible if you choose courage, humility, compassion, and a life of servant leadership. Those choices, and a belief that things could get better, have led me here.
And now my story gets better: My sister also just graduated from college and my little brother is on his way there!
Graduation day alongside my sister Angelica and brother Francisco.
We're carving out our path, little by little.
How do you carve out your path? If you have any other golden nuggets, please do not hesitate to share below. Please share your story of overcoming adversity to accomplish your goals; I'd love to learn from you as well.
Cruz Romero, SPT, Director of Communications, APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors, PT licensure candidate. You can find Cruz on Twitter at @cruzromero602.
Failure to Communicate Can Leave You Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Just a few days ago, my wife and I were 3.5 miles into a hike at Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park when we heard 2 climbers’ calls for help.
Actually, we’d heard the climbers’ calls for help almost a mile earlier, after ascending several switchbacks to crest a plateau. But initially we dismissed the distant noises as teenagers yelling playfully into the canyon. It wasn’t until we were standing atop Cassidy Arch to take a picture—directly above the climbers but unable to see them stranded somewhere below—that we understood their words and their message landed.
The specifics were hard to make out, but after yelling back and forth for a few tense minutes we established a few things: no one was injured, but the climbers were stranded. They needed help, and my wife and I promised to go find it. (We did.)
It wasn’t until the next day, after learning that the climbers had been successfully rescued by the park ranger we found, that I realized just how close the climbers were to waiting out the night in their predicament.
That’s also when it hit me that the whole episode neatly illustrated the underlying rule of all communication, taught to me in journalism school, which is that the meaning of any message is defined by the person receiving the message, not by the person delivering it.
If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with physical therapy, we’ll get there. For now, let’s go back to the canyon:
For at least an hour, those climbers had been stuck and calling for help. But what I heard at first was the sound of people having fun, not the sound of people in distress.
The first reason is the most obvious: I couldn’t make out their words. Beyond that, though, my interpretation of their message was shaped by other cues. For example, I could see other hikers walking in the general area of the voices and none of them seemed upset. Also, we had passed a few hikers coming from the direction of all the yelling, and they didn’t seem alarmed either.
On top of all of that, I had no idea the climbers were there. In fact, I didn’t know they could be there, dangling somewhere below the canyon’s edge out of view. As far as I could see (literally), everything was fine. So I assumed it was.
I was wrong. I misread the situation. But had my wife and I halted our hike just 50 feet sooner, I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Instead, I’d have remembered the hike as uneventful and quiet, save for the somewhat obnoxious yelling of some kids. That would have been my reality.
If you haven’t figured out what this has to do with physical therapy, here’s the idea:
Solid communication is a critical skill for any health care provider, but it’s particularly important for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, who put personalization of care and patient participation at the forefront.
A patient who passively consumes a medication or undergoes surgery to address a problem often won’t have questions about how the pill or procedure works—they only need to be convinced that it will help, and then they can sit back and let their doctor worry about the rest.
But successful physical therapist treatment often relies on a patient’s active effort, usually during times of physical discomfort or difficulty. In these situations, even your most dependable “clinical skills”—all the stuff you’re learning now and will refine throughout your career—may be totally worthless if your communications skills aren’t sufficient enough to convince a patient to buy-in.
And it can take convincing! A person with knee pain might expect that knee surgery could help, but many people with back pain won’t leap to the conclusion that their physical therapy might involve attention to their tight hamstrings, or that more movement, not less, will be beneficial when they start to feel discomfort.
Not to mention that active, thoughtful listening is essential to accurate communication as well. A dominant theme across health care is the strong desire by the consumer to feel heard and understood. A physical therapy plan that strengthens the patient but doesn’t help them meet their stated goals addresses the condition, but not the person.
So if communication is crucial to your success, it’s vital that you appreciate how it works.
That starts with the earlier maxim that it’s the recipient of the message who determines its meaning. Or in the context of patient care: what your patient hears you communicate is what you communicated, no matter your intent.
Of course, words are only part of the equation. The only thing it takes to turn “Good job!” from a confidence-building compliment into a condescending putdown is an adjustment in tone of voice or body language.
In fact, body language often speaks louder than words, but potentially not as clearly. Think your patient will understand that your energy level is down because you’re exhausted at the end of the long day? Your patient might. Or your patient might assume that you’re disinterested and unengaged. And good luck getting that patient to follow through on his or her home exercise program!
That’s why you need to think of communication as a “hard skill,” because just like you’ll watch your patient walk across the room and learn things that they might not be able to articulate in an intake interview, your patients will be reading you, too, and not just your words and gestures. The aesthetic of your clinic, the neatness of your attire, the duration of your eye contact—all of those things and more will be sending messages to your patient about the kind of PT and PTA you are and thus the quality of care that you deliver.
So what message do you want your patients to hear? What must you communicate—not just in thoughts but also in feelings—in order to have the best opportunity to succeed?
Being able to answer those questions won’t guarantee that your patients will always interpret you accurately. But by being more mindful of the signals that you’re sending—verbally and nonverbally—you at least increase the likelihood of mutual understanding.
Otherwise you might wind up like those climbers at Capitol Reef who spent at least an hour shouting all the right words, but failing to connect to anyone around them. Just dangling.
Join me on Facebook Live this Sunday, May 21, at 6:00 pm ET, on the #XchangeSA.
Jason Bellamy, APTA Vice President of Strategic Communications and Alliances.
Serving Our Communities. It's What We Do.
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
It was a Tuesday night and after a long day of lectures, labs, and studying, I and 3 other Columbia University physical therapy students took the subway to Harlem.
We arrived at a restored Catholic cathedral that was transformed into a transitional homeless center called Fortune Society. We entered a room with lots of energy, one that resembled a game room of sorts. After debating whether or not we were in the right place, we were greeted by Sam Flax, PT, DPT, founder of Stand Tall Physical Therapy, and taken to the volunteer office.
New York City's homeless population is upward of 60,000 individuals, and the deficit in access to quality health care is astronomical. Sam wanted to use his practice to try and decrease that gap by offering pro-bono physical therapist services in any way that he could, thus, Stand Tall Physical Therapy was established.
During the first visit we learned that Fortune Society is a transitional home center for men and women who have been previously incarcerated. It offers a holistic one-stop support system for reentry after incarceration through services, including housing, employment, family, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.
Sam felt that Stand Tall Physical Therapy could add physical therapy to the list, while simultaneously offering a learning experience for eager students.
That's where we came in.
As students of Columbia University's Program in Physical Therapy and board members of Columbia PT-CAN (Physical Therapy Community Action Network), we take on the responsibility of partnering with existing volunteer organizations, or creating volunteer opportunities for ourselves and fellow classmates. We reached out to Sam in an effort to work with Stand Tall Physical Therapy in their pro-bono work, and the rest is history.
Columbia University PT-CAN Student Board (L to R) Saiah Mays, SPT, Sarah Lloyd, SPT, Kayla Coutts, SPT, and Kyle Zreibe, SPT.
That first night we arrived, we walked into the "clinic," which was really a library with a few donated plinths, goniometers, and a physio-ball.
Despite the humble size, I'll never forget the large impact of that first patient's story.
A young man walked in, very happy to see our faces, and happy to have someone finally listen to his story. As another volunteer physical therapist (PT) began the subjective exam, my classmates and I listened intently and tried to follow along with the PT's exam questions.
He was in a car accident before being incarcerated a few years ago, and that's when he began to have numbness and tingling in his hands. He underwent total C-spine fusion and was left with next to no neck motion.
The intenseness of the surgery in combination with the poor quality—if any—follow-up physical therapy offered in prison, left this man with extreme pain, stiffness, and weakness so severe that he had not been able to lift his arm for the past 2 years.
I remember thinking, "Wait, this man hasn't been able to lift his arm for the past 2 years…and no one did anything?" I was in utter disbelief and greatly disappointed.
The exhaustion that had initially reminded me that it was 7:00 pm and I'd essentially been up for 13 hours, drifted away as I began to discover how I can use my future physical therapy degree to give back in a major way.
The Stand Tall physical therapist carried on with the rest of the exam, and then provided the man with pain management techniques and a developed plan of care that centered on his wants and needs.
By the end of the session there was a sense of hope in the room, even after such a shocking story and overwhelming patient presentation. What was even better was knowing that he lived right upstairs and was scheduled to come back for treatment from individuals who really care about his well-being.
As a student, experiences like this are an invaluable supplement to a textbook education. There is limited clinical experience, especially in the first year of school and even into your second year, depending on your program, because we still have a lot of content to learn. However, with volunteer clinic opportunities students are under the supervision of a licensed, practicing physical therapist, and in this case, we're helping to serve a population desperately in need of our services.
So not only do we as students get to practice the clinical skills we learn in class, but we get the privilege of a one-on-one model of student-teacher learning that is just not possible in a traditional physical therapy curriculum.
The relationship with Stand Tall Physical Therapy is only one of Columbia University's newest volunteer clinical experiences. There are others that are long-standing such as Columbia Student Medical Outreach (CoSMO), which has the additional element of interdisciplinary care. It's a student-run free clinic staffed with medical, nursing, physical therapy, public health, and social work students serving members of the Washington Heights community.
This program is one of the reasons that I chose Columbia's physical therapy program, and it's an experience that has helped me build my clinical and patient interaction skills since my first semester.
Organizations like Stand Tall and CoSMO show students a concrete link between education and service, both of which are equal components to becoming a well-rounded physical therapist.
Sam Flax's vision for Stand Tall and Fortune Society's missions for those in need gives me and more than 80 subsequent Columbia University student volunteers a solidified message that community service doesn't have to end once we graduate.
Most importantly, treating populations in need opens your eyes to new viewpoints of the health care system, the wide array of opportunities we have as future physical therapists, in addition to your own privilege and observing diversity within the society in which we live.
I highly recommend that other physical therapy students begin to explore ways they can get out there and build clinical skills through service opportunities. It benefits everyone, and the stories and experiences you gain will be invaluable. And if an opportunity doesn't exist, create one.
It's hard to take on projects when balancing school and extracurricular activities, so in building a relationship with Stand Tall Physical Therapy it was awesome to have Columbia PT-CAN for support.
PT-CAN is essentially a group of students who have come together and made a commitment to support those who want to develop service projects. All you need is a group of dedicated, service-oriented classmates and you can do the same.
As physical therapy students, our course loads may seem insurmountable at times, but we can really fuel meaningful change for our communities.
I hope this article can encourage someone to take that initiative, and encourage other programs to develop their own community action networks to develop service initiatives that can make a lifetime of impact.
If you'd like to learn more about Columbia University's Service Learning opportunities you can visit their website and follow them on Facebook.
Saiah Mays, SPT, attends Columbia University and is part of Columbia's PT-CAN group.
How Joining the Private Practice Section Helped Jump-Start My Career
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
I remember standing in front of the mirror in a hotel room with my hands in the air and arms stretched out as high as possible. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy called this "power posing" in her 2012 Ted Talk.
As ridiculous as I might have looked, that power posing made me feel more confident, and in that moment I needed more confidence.
I was at the 2016 Private Practice Section's (PPS) Annual Conference in Las Vegas after being selected as the Student Business Concept contest winner.
My schedule was as exciting as it was anxiety provoking. I was about to walk to a conference room and join the PPS Membership Development Committee for their annual meeting. Later I would be introduced to the entire section during the welcoming ceremonies, my business poster would be presented in the vendor hall, and I would do an interview for Jarod Carter's "Cash-Based PT Podcast."
I was at a conference as one of only a handful of physical therapy students mingling with more than 1,000 physical therapy business owners. This was a dream scenario for any student nearing the end of school.
Now, 8 months later as I prepare to graduate and begin my first job, I realize that the experiences I gained through my involvement with PPS have filled in the gaps that physical therapy school could not.
As students reading this, you may be asking: "What is the value in being a PPS student member?" Let me give you a little insight as to why I think being a PPS student member is what any student hoping to someday get into the business side of our profession should do.
PPS membership will increase your confidence in job interviews. As one of my mentors put it, as a student at the PPS conference, you are the top free agent on the market. Being at annual conference can be where you find your first job. If not, it is at the very least a warm-up for interviews. My ability to make business small talk and learn how these professionals think was like having the ultimate cheat sheet going into interviews.
You'll have an edge in salary and package negotiations. This got your attention, didn't it? Every student wants to know the secret to negotiating for a better starting salary. The best advice we get in school is to use your resume and interview to show how you are unique. That does not translate into increased salary or benefits without understanding that you have to put a value on unique. Compare 2 equally likable, talented, well-rounded new grads going for an outpatient entry-level neuro physical therapy interview:
- Student A was very involved during school as student vice president, had good clinical rotations, and tutored first-year physical therapy students in anatomy.
- Student B had equally good clinical rotations, was a PPS member, and created a model cash-based wellness program for patients with Parkinson disease based out of an existing physical therapy clinic that is budgeted to net $14,000 during the first year of implementation.
Both students are unique, but clearly Student B has more business savvy as well as clinical and evidence-based knowledge. Laying out a hypothetical, yet totally feasible business plan and scenario to your future employer might be the golden ticket to landing that job and give you leverage to demonstrate worth, and even justify salary negotiation. After being offered the position, Student B has the leverage to say something like, "I'm excited for this opportunity. What can we do to increase my salary by X? I would like to work with you to implement my wellness program, and I think it would more than cover this salary increase as well as add a unique component to our clinic."
You'll build relationships and find mentors. Business leaders in our profession truly want to get to know students. For example, I walked into a presentation at that same PPS conference and recognized Jerry Durham, PT, sitting in the back. I briefly introduced myself to him, and the next thing I knew he gave up his seat to come sit on the floor next to me and tell me how stoked he was for a student to be involved! In another example, during the development of my business concept I asked a local business owner, who is a PPS member, for advice. Not only did he give me a couple of suggestions that helped take my idea over the top, he has since become one of my closest mentors.
You'll develop professional courage. The courage to take a risk is the greatest attribute that I have gained through being a part of PPS. Every PT in this section is not only a risk taker, but also a cheerleader who is there to encourage and help you along your path to success. The first, and easiest, risk I ask you to take is to join me as young professionals who want to lead the next generation of innovators in physical therapy.
Elliot Cleveland, SPT, 2016 PPS Student Business Model Contest Winner.
PTNow: Virtualize Your Personal Toolbox
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Physical therapy education provides us with the necessary knowledge and resources to be competent health care professionals. We have droves of texts, tons of research studies, and we listen to endless lectures.
I'm not sure about you, but throughout my time as a student I've found myself thinking, "Okay, when I'm out in the clinic, how do I have these same resources by my side?" "How do I access resources, information, and tools while also treating my patients?"
It wasn't until I discovered APTA's PTNow platform, that I realized this might not be a mystery after all.
The goal of PTNow is to assist physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in their everyday practice. Not only that, PTNow is a great resource for students as well. Its mission is to "translate physical therapy knowledge into action, support evidence-informed care, and help clinicians improve their clinical decision-making."
The great thing about this portal, is that it gives you the flexibility to create a user profile, save your searches, and create what's called a "clinical collection" or a set of data to be used in your day-to-day practice. You can also share your "collections" with your colleagues saving you and your peers time and effort.
Finally, if you can't find what you need on PTNow, it provides you with external information or evidence that's been vetted for relevance and credibility.
Here are 5 things PTNow offers PTs, PTAs, and students:
PTNow Clinical Summaries: These clinical summaries provide evidence on managing patient diagnoses. They include an overview of the condition, classification, screening, examination, diagnosis and prognosis, intervention, medical management, and case study examples. Applying this evidence-based knowledge helps to better understand the diagnosis and apply an optimal plan of care.
PTNow Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs):
CPGs are based on systematic review of current evidence and they include information that is published within 5 years by APTA sections or other health care associations. PTNow can assist students in clinical decision-making by providing resources that can be narrowed down by factors, such as health condition and age. CPGs do not speed up the process of mastering this skill, but they aid in making it easier to accomplish by referencing evidence-based sources that can be applied to most diagnoses.
PTNow Tests and Measures: The tests and measures section can be as general or specific as you would like. You can narrow your search by health condition, practice area, ICF domain, G-code, and body region. Each test includes information on administration, statistical interpretation, or videos showing what the test should look like. As a student, it is good to know that there are resources to help choose valid and reliable measures for specific patient diagnoses.
PTNow full-text ArticleSearch and Cochrane Systematic Reviews: Physical therapy school allows the student to access almost any informative database, but unfortunately this convenience will end shortly after the educational program. Luckily, the ArticleSearch section and systematic reviews provided in PTNow will allow users to stay up to date with the newest research to provide patients with the most accurate plan of care.
Rehabilitation Reference Center (RRC): RRC is a point-of-care resource allowing us as physical therapists to provide the best plan of care to our patients. What's great about this tool is that it's updated daily with the latest systematic identification, evaluation, and consolidation of practice-changing information. RRC was described in a great article written by recent graduate Scott McAfee, PT, DPT.
Physical therapy is a growing profession. It's constantly expanding with new technology, interventions, and patient populations. Resources for evidence-based practice provided in PTNow will help us as physical therapy professionals improve our patient care. PTNow will assist in advancing communication and collaboration across our field and other health care professionals.
This will increase our opportunity to potentially see more patients and provide alternative corrective treatments to allow people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
So, how do you access to this all-knowing toolbox? All you need is an APTA membership. Visit PTNow today.
Alana Papa, SPT, PTNow Student Liaison, attends the University of Scranton.
#DPTstudent to #FreshPT Private Practice Owner: Part 2
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
If you have the desire to own your own business, then it’s likely you possess all the abilities and drive to truly accomplish your entrepreneurship goals.
I recently listened to a TED talk where the speaker suggested that the most innovative individuals start something quickly, but then tend to wait around and procrastinate before completing it. This is not so much a fault as it was a time when you could reflect and mull over your thoughts and ideas in an effort to create something even more innovative.
With that in mind, know that you can never start your business preparation too early.
Some things you will find you are able to start years before you collect on your first business transaction, and they can help you to integrate and design your business and your brand before you're officially in business.
It would be wise to hone and enhance your business, marketing, and communication knowledge and skills before you graduate or soon thereafter. Find your business niche, learn the art of sales and marketing, design a plan that will help you reach your business goals, and ultimately provide the best care and service to your patients.
While in school, I focused hard on my studies and I decided to become a personal trainer. I always had a heart for fitness, and personal training fit my school schedule and provided a little extra income. What I didn’t realize at the time was that personal training would help prepare me as a future private practice owner.
As a trainer I gained exposure and experience with exercise trends, I interacted with other health and fitness professionals, and most importantly, I developed my skills working and engaging with clients, something that translates really well into our work as physical therapists. This experience really lent itself to helping me develop my practice niche—more on this later—and helped me make professional connections and relationships that could be leveraged once I opened my clinic doors.
I will also confess, I’m a bit of an introvert, and before my time as a personal trainer I used to find the interactions with patients or other professionals as being “forced.” But by forcing myself to establish business relationships and work with clients in a personal training capacity, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and have developed skills that helped me become the business-owning woman that I am today.
While we are talking about moving beyond our comfort zone as physical therapy professionals, I believe that to be a successful practice owner you need to be good at sales. Sales, yes I said it. And don't be so turned off by that idea that you stop reading. Whether you believe it or not, we are all salesmen. As physical therapy students and new graduates, we need to own and embody the wide breadth of knowledge and amazing skill set that we have.
We have the ability to help people improve their health and quality of life. We have the ability to eliminate and reduce pain and help our patients regain function. Thankfully for us, our skills and our knowledge have been proven time and time again to produce positive outcomes. It is on us to spread the word and communicate this to potential and current patients. So while being a “salesman” doesn’t come naturally to all of us, if you want to own your own practice, you need this skill.
Sales and potential clients are everywhere: the gym, the grocery store, the park. Learn how to sell or get left being sold.
These are just a few key ingredients to successful business ownership. While there are some successful practice owners that do not have some of the skills or knowledge discussed, as a #FreshPT and as a practice owner, I highly recommend that you acquire these skills and the necessary knowledge. Especially, for those of you who are looking to open your practice within the first few years out of school. You have to have a little extra icing on that cake for earlier business ownership goals.
Deciding early on that a private practice owner is your goal and taking steps to realizing these goals in enough time to allow your ideas to marinate, will help to build your confidence, desire, readiness, and future business success.
Amy Gulledge, PT, DPT, is owner of Nikao Performance and Rehab in Chandler, Arizona. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, certified in dry needling, and a certified orthopaedic manual therapist. You can follow Amy on Instagram at: @nikao_performance or Facebook at: @nikaoperformance.
From Patient to PT
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
Take a quick survey of any physical therapy program and you will find that the majority of students choose to pursue the profession due to some sort of personal experience with physical therapy.
With the slurry of hamstring tears, ACL reconstructions, and labral repairs it gives the growing profession an interesting perspective—the patient perspective.
My own story is not different.
I was born pigeon-toed with anteverted hips. When I was 9 years old, my parents opted for me to have surgery to correct this anatomical anomaly. It took several months of physical therapy for me to relearn to walk and run.
Fast-forward to physical therapy school candidate interviews. One professor asked me during a group interview why I chose to go into the physical therapy profession. My answer came out very vanilla: another student who was a patient.
The interviewer then dove deeper and asked why I didn't choose to go to medical school or go into counseling. After all, I loved both science and the notion of helping others. I then realized that during my tour of the medical field, I spent very little time with the pediatrician, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, or the nurses.
I chose physical therapy because I felt that it had the largest impact on my experience as a patient, a lasting impact that resonates with me even today.
If you had this same patient (pt) to physical therapist (PT) journey, like many of us in this profession have, remember that experience the next time you're with a patient. The next time the patient is in pain, frustrated, overwhelmed etc., use your experience as a patient to help guide them, to empathize and assist them in their journey to better health.
Don't forget how difficult it can be to not have your body operating at 100%. Recall on that experience. Share the frustration and functionality with your patient.
Forming that connection whether through casual conversation about their family and what they like to do for fun, giving tips on how to put on socks a bit easier, or even sharing your story as a patient sitting right where they are, can go a long way in patient care. It can help with patient buy-in so that we can treat them to our best ability and get them back to better health.
This is what separates physical therapists apart from the rest of the medical community.
We understand the path and strain that an injury subjects people to and can truly sympathize with them. In this often vulnerable state, empathy and reassurance can be some of the most important elements in the road toward recovery.
This empathy allows PTs to provide a level of care beyond science and medicine. This also helps give PTs high-level job satisfaction that we enjoy.
As the future of physical therapy, we need to harness this aspect of patient care and maximize our impact on the patient. This can help reduce stress, promote compliance, and then who knows that patient may even decide to go to physical therapy school down the road!
Ryan Maddrey, SPT, 2016-2017 APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors, Nominating Committee chair. You can find Ryan on Twitter at: @theMaddPT.