75 is the number of continuing education classes, conferences, home studies, etc that I’ve completed since physical therapy school.
Though the courses are many, it was probably too much in a short period of time. When quantity is pursued, quality suffers. Sadly, I didn’t figure out how to get the most out of each class until the latter end of my career.
Yes, the content was great, but these classes stood out for a different reason. You see, instead of just doing a little bit of prep work, I kicked it up a notch. I extensively reviewed supportive material, took impeccable notes, and hit all the other essentials needed to effectively learn.
I was prepared, and because I was prepared I got so much more out of these classes than my typical fair. The lessons learned in those courses stick with me to this day.
For the stuff you really want to learn, I’ll encourage you to do the same. Here is the way to get the most out of your continuing education. By the time you are done reading this post, you’ll understand why I now recommend a more focused learning approach and fewer courses.
If there is one thing I’ve struggled with over the years, it’s long term retention.
Though remembering course materials has had it’s challenges, the struggle is worse with books.
Overconsumption was part of the problem. Trying to read faster, and across multiple unrelated books caused more detriment than use. Much as our attention spans can be overstimulated by abundant information on the internet, so to can we suffer this fate with reading. There are a lot of books after all.
I remember one summer I made it my goal to learn how to shuffle cards. We played A LOT of cards on my family vacations, and I was tired of having to use the automatic shuffler or having someone else shuffle for me at the family card game.
It was time to become a man, damnit!
I shuffled anytime I had some free time during the day; which back when I was a kid led to multiple bouts of daily shuffling.
By the end of the summer, I was unconscious with shuffling, and still am to this day.
Frequent, quality repetitions at any task will likely lead to improvement. Learning material is no different, we must just foster an environment of multiple exposures to said material.
It is hard to believe that I have already written my 50th post after starting this blog in February as a way to enhance both my learning and the learning of others.
This blog has allowed me to interact with a variety of different individuals that I otherwise would not have. And when people who I deeply respect say they admire what I have to say (or at least my version of what other people say), I am deeply humbled.
But I have had several cases in which people wondered if I do anything other than physical therapy and personal training (I do). One of my former mentors came up to me saying that she was worried about me because of how much I am into this.
These interactions have made me reflect on why I am reading, working, writing, and learning as much as I can. Thus, I have come to some conclusions as to what drives me to help others. And this drive, while not the norm that some of my peers are accustomed to, is far from wrong.
Others are Depending on You
When you work as a health professional, some people neglect the fact that your patients and clients trust their bodies with you. They put their confidence in your knowledge and skills to show them the path to bettering themselves.
When someone puts this amount of trust into me, the last thing I want to do is let them down.
So I am going to put my utmost effort into helping them meet their goals. We do this by giving them the best quality of care of course, but that also means consistent honing of knowledge and skills to provide them with your best.
All too often I see clinicians and trainers who have not picked up a book or journal article since school ended; going through the motions day after day. I feel sorry for their patients and clients, because they are the ones who ultimately suffer. Patient care is just like maintaining a relationship with someone. If you do not put in the effort to better the relationship, it will eventually fail.
The worst thing you can do is mail it in day after day.
I Still Fail
Even though in the past year alone I feel I have improved my clinical understanding tremendously, I still have patients that do not get better. More than I would like…which is 0 🙂
Granted, there exists a certain sub-population of people who will just not get better regardless. But I am sure we all have patients that we think could have benefited from our services that did not.
Maybe you didn’t know what you were looking for…Then improve your assessment skills and learn better principles.
Maybe you weren’t familiar enough with their presentation…Then increase your knowledge base so you are familiar.
Maybe you didn’t have the right sensory input to apply to this person…Then learn new exercises and manual skills so you have the right inputs.
Maybe they didn’t follow through on their home program…Then improve your ability to motivate the next one to perform their exercises.
It is great if people do not improve due to something on our parts, because we then have the capacity to change these issues.
If you Pubmed search the keyword physical therapy, you will get 209444 hits (as of 8/22/13). No doubt if you check that phrase 2 months from now that number will increase. That is a lot of information, and new science comes out daily. By necessity, you have to keep up…especially if you want to know everything…which I don’t.
I think my wise mentor Bill Hartman put it best, “If you are not getting better, you are getting worse.”
It’s Damn Fun
The more that I read the more fascinated I become with what we do as clinicians and trainers. Especially since I have delved deeper into neurological topics, my approach and thought process has undergone a huge transformation. Gone are the biophysical thought processes in favor of a more biopsychosocial rationale. No longer am I telling patients that their facet joints are causing their pain. Now I say pain is the brain’s response to threat, and I am here to help turn down the defense mechanisms that go along with that.
To me, there is nothing more interesting and fun than going through and learning things that drastically change the way you think.
These areas are what keep me and this website going. Will I be writing summaries forever? Who knows? Maybe someday I will have an original thought. But I will say that as long as the passion stays, I and I hope you too will press on and continue to learn. When you stop learning, then it is time to hang it up.
What motivates you to learn? Please comment below.