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.