I Believe: Student Perspectives from #GrahamSessions2015

My name is Thomas Janicky and I believe that what I have witnessed this past weekend is the beginning to a disruptive tomorrow. This past weekend I felt several feelings at once, excitement, frustration, discomfort, and hope. I’m staring to process that all of these emotions are normal especially when it comes to completing the task at hand and disrupting physical therapy.

This weekend I sat in a room with arguably some of the most passionate people in our profession. I would be a lying if I didn’t admit I was a little intimidated to be conversing amongst names such as Dianne Jewell, Alan Jette, Tony Delitto, John Childs, Paul Rockar and dozens of other physical therapist with countless years of professional experience. It was after reflecting on this insecurity that I knew I had to step up to the mic. and let everyone in there know what I had to say.

I have learned over the past three years that it is very easy to sit back and pick apart the thoughts and actions of others, but is extremely difficult to take responsibility, make yourself vulnerable and lay all your cards on the table to be the one with the wild thoughts and crazy ideas. After this weekend I now fully believe that innovation comes from more than just experience, it comes from a confidence to dream big, confidence that’s strong enough to force you to push the limits of comfort. To quote Mike Eisenhart, it comes from trusting your crazy ideas and an unquenchable thirst for making them a reality. Jerry Durham read a quote this weekend that went “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, BUT you can make it thirsty.” My call to future students it to get thirsty, thirsty for a future where the old way of doing things is not looked at as the standard but a platform for continuous change and scrutiny. We need to become comfortable with taking risks often at the expense of what we are most comfortable with. Its time for a paradigm shift from always wanting to find the answers, to being the ones who create the answers.

I believe that our future students need to realize that this profession no longer needs mediocrity. It needs leaders who are willing to lay all their cards on the line daily, for the betterment of our profession and the greater good of our patients. In school we are equipped with the tools to treat safely. It is important however to realize that when it comes to taking care of business and working towards innovation, safe is an ugly word. I believe that students of today should reflect, learn and become more comfortable with smart risk taking. When it comes to change, innovation and preparing for an ever-adapting future, those who are ok with playing it safe will be left in the dust.

Take homes from Graham Sessions 2015:

1.) Disruption requires the bravery to sacrifice what we are for who we can be. We are limited in our ability to achieve this goal out of fear, which is natural when what’s at stake is everything you have fought so hard for up until this point.

2.) Autonomy when taken to the extreme has become a deterrent for our profession. It was brought up at the sessions that autonomy sends a negative message that we do not want to play well with others, that we do not need others to help us, when in fact collaborative care teams is what will help propel us into the future. Independent was proposed as a more efficient term in that it does not mean we want to practice in silos, but we are willing to assert ourselves as doctorate level professionals with expertise to be the primary providers for musculoskeletal conditions and wellness.

3.) Data is only useful when it used to answer a meaningful question. I will be completely honest in saying I feel like throughout my clinical experiences I have been an outcomes collecting robot. We have each patient fill out some type of measure to assess change over time but what exactly is the purpose of collecting these measures and how do they align with the goals of my patients? It’s a question that I am willing to admit, I cannot always answer and some data becomes lost without a direct purpose. I think we especially as students understand the importance of collecting data but aren’t being forced to understand the importance of using the data to answer relevant clinical questions. When we collect ROM data we need to be able to interpret it in a meaningful way, it is not enough to mindlessly collect data. To quote Dr. Larry Benz, “always act with purpose.”

4.) We cannot let physical therapy be defined by the interventions we provide. The profession of physical therapy continues to have a marketing issue because of all the various skills we have when it comes to manual therapy techniques and interventions we provide. We use tools such as exercise and manipulation, but what makes it physical therapy is that it is being provided by a physical therapist. It was noted by one speaker “playing with clay does not make someone an artist”. The continuous notion that physical therapy is defined by the interventions diminishes the value that it is in fact provided by a physical therapist. This mindset of thinking places more value on the tools rather than the professional who is utilizing them.

5.) Business education is evidently lacking in both entry-level education and among a large portion of the profession. We need to start really providing value at the consumer level, as they are willing to pay for goals they are expecting to achieve. There are many ancillary services out there that are doing it right, massage therapists, personal trainers etc. have no issue with utilizing cash pay for their services and their industries are pulling in billions of dollars this way. Why is this so hard for physical therapy? It was noted a few times throughout the sessions that instead of scrutinizing and isolating ourselves from these services we should start utilizing them as colleagues and look at them as potential referral sources. Physical therapy is a business and our value can only be defined by the consumers who walk through our doors. We will be able to establish this value once we place priority on achieving outcomes that meets the consumer’s expectation and goals.

It was and incredible honor to be invited to the 8th annual Graham Sessions this year and I look forward to providing more input as a new graduate next year! Special thanks to Steve Anderson for the invitation and the 100+ other professionals I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with, for making this past weekend one that I will never forget. It is truly an exciting time for physical therapy.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.