Mentor Needed for Physical Therapist Profession

You’ve had someone you look up to, haven’t you? For some of us, the first person to be in those shoes was an older sibling.

Our profession, as a nation, needs a mentor. We do. Collectively, across the nation, we are truly missing the mark in being in the spotlight as the first choice for musculoskeletal problems. Many states have some level of direct access. Have physical therapists in those states pushed the envelope, pushed their comfort zone or changed anything from what the business side of practice looked like in the 80’s? I’m asking with regard to all physical therapists, no matter the setting. If business processes aren’t any different; if the behavioral patterns of those in the community are no different; and if other businesses in the local community aren’t banging on physical therapist’s doors to help contain costs in the musculoskeletal area, honestly, nothing has changed. Opportunities haven’t been created or taken by physical therapists. I’m definitely not knocking word of mouth or the loyalty of previous treated patients in your community and how they convert their circle of friends into your fan base. That’s all good, but it isn’t enough. This passive rippling effect is but a drip compared to what truly could be.

As a profession, the lizard brain rules. Why would the lizard brain rule? Very simply because we don’t have a mentor. We know the possible, we believe the possible and then we collectively fail at causing waves in our communities.

Might I suggest something that might help reduce the fear associated with changing a traditional business process so the new process is in line with what we envision for direct access? It’s time to find a mentor. Okay, I don’t mean mentor in the sense of what we experience as humans – a mentor who interacts or cares. What I do mean is we need to find those within our profession who are living the vision every day. I honestly don’t believe we have enough of those examples in our nation.

Maybe it’s time for a systematic review of global physical therapy services. Maybe it’s time to query for countries that have direct access with the bulk of the population willing to pay for services combined with any information on the quality of those services. Maybe it’s time to analyze the countries that we’d like to emulate. At the same time, it’d also be great to learn qualitative information like the risks and threats to business/physical therapy profession those countries constantly face. I think it’d be interesting to learn their strategies and to “see” if their processes look different than what we have here. See what I mean, we need a mentor.

Do you think you might see value in learning how physical therapists in other countries have successfully entrenched their expertise into their nation?

And, by the way… have a Happy Thanksgiving. May you have safe travels and enjoy family and friends tomorrow!

Until next time,

~Selena

2 responses to “Mentor Needed for Physical Therapist Profession

  1. Patrick Lyons says:

    Hi Selena,
    Im an aussie physio who has been working in newyork as a PT for the past year or so. I have noticed a difference between the attitudes of aussie and new yorker patients regarding the best management of injury and pain problems. IMO, when the Newyorkers who i deal with hurt themselves they “know” that their first port of call needs to be a PCP/sports med physician/physiatrist. They also “know” that PTs are trained only to carry out the doctor’s prescription for rehab/pain resolution. By and large, the patients i’ve seen in nyc do not see PTs as primary contact practioners, capable of working independently from docs. In australia, most of the general public “knows” to “go straight to see a physio” because “if i go to the doc first, he’ll just send me to the physio anyway”. Many are actually skeptical about the GPs capacity to treat injury/pain. i dont know how these divergent attitudes came about, but i suspect it has to do with the lobbying efforts of the australian physio association throughout the 80s and 90s, and its stable relationship with the australian medical association. Both associations have worked hard to educate the public re physio. And the aussie docs seem to have been willing to let go of their hold on the management of injury and pain problems. My (limited) experience within the u.s system is that the medicos are not ready to this. So i think you guys are fighting a losing battle. Another major difference in australia is payment for services rendered. Aussies seem much more comfortable paying for physio with their own money. the yanks are already coughing up so much cash for their insurance plans that they are resistant to “paying twice” for healthcare.

    So, all you (in the usa) need to do is make friends with the docs, convince them you’re better at treating pain/injury than they are, convince the docs to convince the public you should be the go to guys for pain/injury, and convince the public to self pay for PT in addition to paying for health insurance.

    Good luck!!

    1. BMF says:

      Sad but true. I’ve been thinking of moving to Australia, New Zealand not coincidentally as I’m a US PT.

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