My name is Nicolas Ferrara and I am a soon-to-be physical therapist from Long Island, New York. One of the questions that I was asked when interviewing for physical therapy school was this:
“If your neighbor got injured and
had to go to physical therapy,
and they asked you what it was,
how would you define it for them?”
My interviewers thought candidates should know what a physical therapist does if they wanted to become one, interestingly enough. I’d nail this one, no problem. Easy. Are they serious with that question? “A physical therapist is obviously someone who…does….exercise…helps people…therapy………uhhh………..physical.”
I had anticipated this question, but I’m not sure how long it took me to think of a coherent sentence when I was preparing for the interview. Thinking about my answer was a little trickier than I thought. Physical therapy is a diverse field with a wide scope of practice. Physical therapists treat everyone: young, middle-aged, old, patients with orthopedic, neurological, or cardiopulmonary problems, patients with amputations, patients with extensive skin wounds or burns, patients with special needs, patients with pelvic floor problems…..the list goes on. We work in all settings: hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, home-care, and schools to name a few. My simple and short answer for this question now is roughly the same as it was back in 2013. A physical therapist is a healthcare professional who utilizes exercise and movement as medicine for all types of populations. Some people have different definitions though. Some people’s definitions include passive treatments, useless modalities, techniques with less than stellar evidence, and deceptive practices. Not everyone is on the same page here.
That’s where I come in. My goal for this blog is simple: I want to provide a resource for new physical therapists to equip themselves with critical thinking skills, answer clinical questions concisely and practically, and bring the newest research in our profession to the forefront. Being a new grad is intimidating and it can be hard to know where to turn for advice you can trust and ideas that are based on facts, science, and clear thinking. Your education should not stop after you graduate. There is a much larger world out there, and you only get a preview in school.
In physical therapy, it is easy to be lazy. It is easy to prescribe heel slides, quad sets and leg raises to a patient s/p TKA. It is easy to throw a hot pack on somebody’s neck and send them home with a few stretches. It is easy to skip the whole “evidence-informed decision making” thing they mentioned a few times in class. It is easy to be wrong about things.
The easy route is not always the right way.
You should read this blog if you are a physical therapist who wants to:
1) Learn to think critically and skeptically about complex situations
2) Save time by getting concise and practical summaries of current literature
3) Simplify your treatments, and stop worrying about minutiae
4) Be more effective, by getting sound, rational, and scientifically backed advice
5) Improve yourself, and the reputation of our profession
My first post will be on a subject that was touched on very briefly in my school and probably deserves way more attention than it is currently getting…the science of pain. Everyone we treat for the most part will probably have pain , so we should have an idea of how it works and be able to explain it to our patients. You want to get rid of people’s pain right?
More to come…