Coming out of school to enter the clinical world, it typically doesn't take long to realize that quite a bit was missing from our PT school education. It's not the school system's fault as we are prepared to be generalists not specialists when we begin. It is through regular clinical practice and continuing education that we further develop our knowledge and skills. There is a lot to choose from, so how do you know where to begin?
Ideally, everyone would do a residency/fellowship program. These programs are some of the easiest ways to begin specialization and increasing your confidence and competence in the clinic. The regular coursework and mentoring involved keep challenging and developing your skills. While it would be nice for everyone to pursue these, it takes a significant time and financial commitment, so I understand why many do not complete them. Instead, many far more frequently choose a weekend course or two every year to attend. This can be an excellent way to regularly grow as a clinician, but not all courses are as beneficial. I recommend courses that teach your a system or are pretty encompassing in an area. For example, one of my early continuing education classes was Selective Functional Movement Assessment Level 1 (SFMA). It played a huge role in my examinations for assessing movement. Courses focusing on a joint for evaluation and treatment can be beneficial. Even though I had a blast when I attended Combined Sections, I'm not sure how useful it is clinically. You go to a bunch of different classes where maybe you get an update on some research, but is generally just a taste of the topic.
Another way that is pretty easy and relatively inexpensive is following blogs and subscription services. Check out our Favorites Page for a list of blogs that we follow. You have access to the minds of many different clinicians that can help develop you knowledge and they are typically free! For a relatively small price, you can subscribe to some services for additional content. Rehab Webinars offers regular web- or podcast-based lectures by some of the described experts in the field. Medbridge offers a wider variety of courses as well, and some companies will pay for membership. These easy to access services can completely alter how you deliver care. Personally, I use Medbridge and The Manual Therapist's subscription services regularly. My clinical reasoning and skills have been impacted by following these services almost as much as my residency completion, and at a far lesser cost. For our Premium Page followers, we offer videos, podcasts, lectures, and more on different skills and topics that we have learned in our sports/ortho residencies, fellowships, and more. If you are looking for a way to significantly alter your practice for the better, check out some of these options.
James Heafner PT, DPT, OCS:
Owner and lead physical therapist at Heafner Health, cash-based physical therapy in Boulder, CO. Areas of expertise include orthopedic and manual therapy, functional movement, pain science, and movement science.
In May 2013, I earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Saint Louis University. After graduating from the Harris Health Systems Orthopedic Residency in October 2014, I moved to Boulder, CO. Since living in Boulder, I have started my own cash-based PT practice, earned my OCS certification, and teach for the OPTIM Fellowship and COMT program in Houston TX and Scottsdale, AZ.
Chris Fox PT, DPT, OCS: Physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy in Scottsdale, AZ and regularly lectures at the Phoenix Campus for NAU's DPT program and for Optim Manual Therapy's COMT program. Completed multiple advanced manual therapy courses implementing aspects of biomechanical analysis. He received his DPT from Saint Louis University in 2013. Completed Scottsdale Healthcare's Orthopaedic Residency (now Honor Health) in July 2014. He became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist in 2015. Level I Expert in FMS and SFMA , Kinetacore FDN Level 1 certification, and IASTM Technique course completion. He would like to pursue further education in McKenzie Technique, Dry Needling, Strength & Conditioning, Orthopaedic and Manual Therapy.
Brian Schwabe PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS:
- Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist (SCS) at Elite OrthoSport in Santa Monica, CA which specializes in treating collegiate/professional athletes and clientele from the Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Santa Monica areas.
- USC Sports Residency Trained Physical Therapist (<1% of all PT's residency trained)
- DPT from Saint Louis University
- Future plans/interest include:
1. USAW, SFMA & Catapult Systems technology for NBA teams
2. Pursuing a position as a sports physical therapist &/or Strength coach for a Division 1 athletic medicine department or professional sport team.
|The Student Physical Therapist||
Always evolving, Always learning