What do you get when you have a group of PT’s, MT’s and Trainers from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia drinking beer in a hot tub?
A lengthy discussion on what’s wrong with our profession.
And I use the term “our” profession even though all of us have a different scope of practice, because to my surprise, we’re all facing the same issues. At every level there is an issue with education, regulatory bodies, our peers and even some associations.
You see the problem in all of these industries is a lack of change.
The schools have too much invested within themselves to make changes that would help improve the profession. They are still stuck in research from 20-30 years ago, and well, change is difficult.
The regulatory bodies are concerned (as well they should be, as it’s their role) about protecting the public. All too often they err on the side of caution and ignore new developments in research and practice, which in turn harms the profession. And when I say harms the profession, I find it shocking just how badly it can harm the profession. This is exactly what I love to hear.
Little did I know the extent it was happening in our industry until the above conversation.
When regulatory bodies ignore things like mental health and the biopsychosocial approach, but still promote and teach research and science that is long outdated, not only do we suffer as therapists but unfortunately so does the public, which these regulatory bodies are supposed to be protecting. By their very definition they need to adopt new standards or they are strongly in breach of their core duty.
As the frustration grows among therapists who are trying to do right by their patients (and their profession), it is beginning to become apparent that we have no choice.
It’s time to take things into our own hands.
Where this can be a bit of a problem, is the lack of therapists who want to get involved. Like it or not we are a fairly apathetic group. We tend to get lost in just going to work doing our treatments and shutting down at the end of the day. Then we are usually scrambling at the end of the year to fulfill our CECs.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that (well actually I guess I am), I used to be one of those therapists. I wouldn’t bother going to a college or an association AGM, wouldn’t bother to vote on anything, and would take whatever CEC’s came to town, just to fill the quota. But as time went on, started to realize change was needed, not only in myself but also in the profession.
Since it’s apparent that nothing is going to change when it comes to entry to practice standards, if we want change it’s going to be up to us. The best way to change our profession and influence practice standards is to have a critical mass of therapists lobbying and demanding change.
This can be a bit tricky.
Since entry to practice won’t change, we look to continuing education to help shape our careers. Tania Velasquez wrote a great piece on Modalities vs Concepts and not getting caught up in the modality empires. Now, there’s nothing wrong with learning a new modality, in fact through most regulatory bodies it’s encouraged. However what we need to do, is be careful not to get caught up in the bias’ that usually go with some of those classes and make sure they’re backed by sound research and encourage critical thinking. Part of the problem is that there aren’t a lot of courses that encourage this.
So, what do we do in cases like this?
It’s time to start developing our own. If we truly care about the advancement of our profession, it’s high time we start breaking the mold of what is being offered and rely on each other to develop continuing education. Over the past couple of years (and I’ve wrote about it on here) I’ve started attending more conferences for my CECs instead of just hands on manual courses. For each conference I’ve been to, it has been amazing to meet like minded therapists from, not only different countries, but also different backgrounds and certification levels who all want to improve their profession.
And the beauty of it all…they’re all willing to work together.
We all have different strengths that would lend itself to quality CEC courses. In the last two weeks alone I’ve had discussions with other therapists on possibilities for courses on motivational interviewing, pain science introduction, DNM, assessment and of course first aid. The more we can collaborate and work together to develop the education happening after college, the bigger change we can make in bettering ourselves and the profession.
There are a few ways we can make this happen.
Typically when we think of a mentor, we think of a one on one coaching type dynamic. While this is a great option and should be highly sought after, it can also be difficult to find an agreement that works for both parties.
Our local association encourages a mentorship program in which a more experienced therapist takes a less experienced practitioner and gives them tips and advice when starting out. This is a great way for a new grad to learn the ropes and build confidence. However if this is something you’re thinking of, there should be compensation (I don’t know if our association encourages that or not) given to the mentor. Years of experience and of course their time should only be given away if they choose to allow that, but it would be a wise investment on the part of a new grad.
Online there are several ways to gain mentorship. Joining several of the Facebook groups out there, you can learn a ton just by watching the comments and interaction among other therapists. But just like anything else, you have to choose wisely. Just like when choosing your CEC course, make sure the group(s) you decide to follow are quality and backed by research and science, or at least promote those two topics.
You can also create meet-ups in your area, to see if other therapists would like to get together and just talk shop. I’ve learned more from going out for a couple pints with other practitioners to pick their brain about what they’re good at (and probably forgot a lot of it) than I can ever pay back to them. You’d be amazed if you just put a request out how many therapists would be willing to do this. But don’t keep it to just Massage Therapists, meet up with ATs, Chiros, Physios and Personal Trainers, they all have knowledge you can learn from.
Blogs. Start following some good quality blogs, there are a ton out there! However the same caution I talked about earlier should be applied when deciding which ones to follow. Find the ones who cite quality research, give advice and focus on patient centred care. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the bloggers that I follow and every time have been amazed at their humility. While some of them charge for products on their sites, they are usually quite willing to give away lots of free content. If you can use some of their paid content as CECs all the better (and easier) for you to learn from.
As therapists, there is no end to the amount of things we can learn. But we do have a choice in what we learn. Shaping your career and profession is all of our responsibility, not to be left up to the regulatory bodies. When you go take new courses that give you quality information, there is also a responsibility on your part to share that information in your community with other practitioners. There are some therapists out there doing some pretty amazing things, but we can make greater change as a group than we can flying solo.