Unleashed upon the world

I work in a small community hospital. At this hospital, I have been blessed to work with people that are really good at what they do. We all expect excellence with our specific niches, and it’s great to call them colleagues.

In this location, I also get many students (physical therapy students) and volunteers (hopeful to get into PT school). There are some students that I wonder how they got into the program and they force me to worry about the direction that our profession is going. This has nothing to do with knowledge, but with passion, excitement, initiative, confidence, and people skills.

Every once in a while I come across students that make me sit back and enjoy. It’s like watching a Picasso at work. They have people skills mixed with passion, integrity, knowledge and time spent in the books.

It’s disheartening to hear of some student’s clinical internships. For instance, a recent student’s experience was nothing more than that of a PT mill. The student reports doing the same intervention to all patients with a similar diagnoses. There was no classification, there was no critical thinking and the student then passed the patient off to an aide once the manual therapy portion of the session was over.

This is why I am an CI. Students deserve to learn the craft of Physical Therapy. There are many short-cuts. There are ways to maximize profit, but the ways to maximize profit, by performing said short-cuts, doesn’t typically translate into proper patient care.

We all have what’s called the sniff test. If it smells bad…it probably is. I take mine a couple of steps further and call it the “I’m disappointed in you” test. I’m 36 years old and can remember the one and only time that I heard these words from my Dad. It hurt enough that I don’t want to hear those words again. When I am practicing and treating patients, I think to myself; “Does this pass the sniff test? Would my Dad be disappointed with how I treated a patient?” It doesn’t take much people.

We recently were required to take 3 hours of ethics courses per renewal period (every 2 years). I know…it doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but these 3 hours that I spend “learning” ethics are 3 hours that could be spent learning the latest/greatest interventions to treat problems. You know why we have to take ethics courses? Because there are some in our profession that are not practicing in an ethical manner. Mr. Pelligrini from Providence (my high school), on day one, wrote a big dollar sign on the chalkboard (do they even use these anymore?) and he proceeded to walk up to the $ and bow to it. This was day one. In high school, he was probably the hardest teacher that I had, but having grown a little older and more mature, that guy was so full of knowledge that is coming true during these times. I won’t go into it, because I am trying to avoid political blogging, but just know that he was wise beyond his years.

Unfortunately, many in our profession are bowing down to the almighty $. Why? When I poll students, they are graduating with over $150,000 of cumulative student loan debt. These students have a house payment…without the house. Therefore, these students will be forced to make decisions that take salary and bonuses into account. I have listened to over years of Dave Ramsey on the Podcast and unfortunately most students don’t live by his principles. Hard at first, but allows for ethical decision making professionally. When students don’t have to worry about how they are going to pay back their student loans, they can make more altruistic and personally satisfying decisions in his/her career, instead of chasing the $.

If you are applying to PT school, do your research! How much is that school going to cost you in total? Are there scholarships? How much is that school going to cost you per month when you graduate? Can you graduate without taking on any debt? How much will your starting salary be? What type of lifestyle do you want to lead and will this profession allow for that type of lifestyle?

Having lectured to many students prior to getting into the profession, many students have never even considered these questions. It’s sad, but it becomes easier for companies to play the puppetmaster because it is known that the students have to pay that loan monthly and they can’t do it without a high paying job.

Schools need to hear this and start offering financial planning courses. It’s sad that we take a student and have them rack up $150,000 in debt, but never prepare them for how to start paying that money back, saving for retirement, choosing an ethical job position, etc.

I went on a rant, but it’s on my mind this morning.

Author: Dr. Vince Gutierrez, PT, cert. MDT

After having dedicated 8 years to growing my knowledge regarding the profession of physical therapy, it seems only fitting that I join the social media world in order to spread a little of the knowledge that I have gained over the years. This by no means is meant to act in place of a one-one medical consultation, but only to supplement your baseline knowledge in which to choose a practitioner for your problem. Having completed a Master of Physical Therapy degree, the MDT (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy) certification and currently finishing a post-graduate doctorate degree, I have spent the previous 12 years in some sort of post-baccalalaureate study. Hopefully the reader finds the information insightful and uses the information in order to make more informed healthcare decisions. MISSION STATEMENT: My personal mission statement is as follows: As a professional, I will provide a thorough assessment of your clinical presentation and symptoms in order to determine both the provocative and relieving positions and movements. The assessment process and ensuing treatment will be based on current and relevant evidence. Furthermore, I will educate the patients regarding their symptoms and their likelihood of improving with either skilled therapy, an independent exercise program, spontaneous recovery or if the patient should be referred to a separate specialist to possibly provide a more rapid resolution of symptoms. Respecting the patient’s limited resources is important and I will provide an accurate overview of the prognosis within 7 visits, again based on current research. My goal is to empower the patient in order to take charge of both the symptomatic resolution and return to full function with as little dependence on the therapist as possible. Personally, I strive to be an example for family and friends. My goal is to demonstrate that success is not a byproduct of situations, but a series of choices and actions. I will mentor those, in any way possible, that are having difficulty with the choices and actions for success. I will continue to honor my family’s “blue-collar” roots by working to excel at my chosen career and life situations. I choose to be a leader of example, and not words, all the while reducing negativity in my life. I began working towards the professional aspect of the mission statement while still in physical therapy school. By choosing an internship that emphasized patient care and empowering the patient, instead of the internship that was either closest to home or where I knew that I would have the easiest road to graduation, I took the first step towards learning how to utilize the evidence to teach patients how to reduce their symptoms. I continued this process by completing Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy courses A-D and passing the credentialing exam. I will continue to pursue my clinical education through CEU’s on MDT and my goal is to obtain the status of Diplomat of MDT. Returning back to school for the t-DPT was a major decision for me, as resources (i.e. time and money) are limited. My choice was between saving money for the Dip MDT course (about 15,000 dollars) and continuing on with the Fellowship of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) (about 5,000 dollars), as these courses are paired through the MDT curriculum or returning to school to work towards a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. I initially planned on saving for the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT, but life changes forced me to re-evaluate my situation. The decision then changed to return for the tDPT, as my employer paid for a portion of the DPT program. My goal for applying to and finishing the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT is 10 years. This is how long I anticipate that it will take to finish paying student loans and save for both programs, based on the current rate of payment. I don’t know if I will ever accomplish what I set forth in the mission statement, but I do know that it will be a forever struggle to maintain this standard that I set for myself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s