The one mistake you do not want to make.

Let’s just put this out there right now.

We all do not want to be that bad therapist aka that bad PT.

We all like to think that we’re not that person. That that could never ever be me.

But like…are you sure?

How would you really know?

One of the absolutely key elements to what makes a residency/fellowship experience unique above all other training forms (clinicals, classroom learning, or proprietary company orientations/training) is the mentorship.

A true mentorship calls you out on your shit.

And guess what, when you go through a true mentorinship for the first time, it hurts. Alot.

I’d like to believe everyone experiences their pain in different ways, but what really “hurts” is your ego. Your ego gets bruised, beat up, and sometimes out right annihilated.

But from that pain and recognition of where your knowledge is lacking, where your manual skills are poor, or where you clinical reasoning is so so bad…you grow and get stronger as a clinician.

You would have never experienced this if you didn’t have the guidance from a mentor to show you how much further you can go.

Now what if you don’t have a mentor?

What if you are not in a residency or fellowship program?

Are you doomed?

Not necessarily. You just have to do this one thing: Be self-aware and brutally honest of what you don’t know, then fix that.

You see the core of what makes a bad PT bad is that the bad PT does not know what he/she does not know.

They are completely and utterly clueless. Don’t forget too that the ego could be pretty powerful, so you’ll find clinicians who sometimes get super defensive or even refuse to acknowledge that they could do better.

So don’t be that bad PT. There are plenty of them out there already, and goodness we do not need any more of them.

Here’s what you could do right now.

Pick one patient in your week, and be super critical of what you’re doing with that patient. Always ask yourself with each session, what could you have done better? Question everything that you’re doing. You may even feel silly doing so, but trust me that everything you’re doing affects patient care and so there are many areas to improve upon and do differently.

I won’t get into the finer details, but here are a few places you can start:

  1. How is your subjective interviewing setup? What could you do better? How could you be more efficient?
  2. How is your objective examination setup? How could you order your tests and measures better? What test would have been better to rule in or rule out a potential diagnosis? How could you be more efficient?
  3. How was your therapeutic communication? (did you even know that was a thing?!) Were you being too nice? Did you make rehab expectations clear? Were you being too mean? Did you talk about yourself the entire time? (if you did, you really should stop.)
  4. What does the latest evidence say about this (insert clinical problem, diagnosis, prognosis, clinical technique, etc here)?

I really could go on and on, but hey just keep a look out for more content from me. There are really a lot more where you can be critical and improve upon.

Oh and don’t forget to write down what you find on paper. It’s important to document your own self-reflection. You’ll surprise yourself and have better clinical practices revealed to you. Also, you’ll now have notes to yourself that you can use as reference later. (This started my love affair with Moleskine notebooks back during residency. I have a box full of those guys.)

So there you have it. DON’T BE THAT BAD PT. Get hyper aware of your own thoughts and actions in the clinic. Document them. Self-reflect, then act on getting better.

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