Therapists Educate Themselves to Become Better Clinicians
The best healthcare clinicians are typically lifelong learners. The following examples show two different RehabVisions therapists who educated themselves in different ways than your typical CE courses, and their patients are better off because of it.
Brett Hample, PT is our rehab director at CHI St. Alexius in Dickinson, North Dakota. Brett graduated from PT school in 2016, but his zest for knowledge has driven him to go much farther since.
Brett recently received his OCS (Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) from the APTA. This certification took him about five months to complete with an average of three hours of study each day plus more on the weekends. Before the OCS, Brett received his strength and conditioning certification from NSCA and, he says, his most rigorous certification—the MTC or Manual Physical Therapy certification from Evidence in Motion. The MTC was a year of work including four hands-on weekend training sessions out of town and seven separate exams.
All of his additional training has really changed the way he practices therapy, Brett said. “In school, you learn a little about a lot,” he said. “But these certifications allow you to learn more specifically what you’re passionate about.”
Brett admits that he’s partly able to dedicate to these study courses and certifications because he’s not yet married and doesn’t have children. He’s also very driven by setting goals, and he decided he wanted these designations back in PT school. “I wasn’t going to stop until I reached these goals,” he said. “And it’s really kept me disciplined.”
Committing an extreme amount of time is not the only way a therapist can further his or her education. Deric Fenzl, PT has been working at the Lake Ozark Clinic in Missouri since he graduated PT school in 2017. Each evening he takes a look at his schedule and evaluations for the next day to better prepare himself. One day last Spring he came across a diagnosis he’d never heard before—DISH. DISH stands for diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis and is characterized by unique, flowing calcification along the sides of the contiguous vertebrae of the spine.
Feeling sheepish about his lack of knowledge, Deric admitted it to the patient. “I actually got a lot of buy-in by just being honest. I told her I’m going to work hard for you, but I need to do some research and understand this better.”
The patient told him she was used to that from healthcare providers and informed him of what she knew about the disease. She also mentioned that when she did a basic trunk rotation, she’d feel her bone fracture.
“What is even safe for me to treat?,” Deric said he thought.
So, he scheduled her next appointment two days later and spent the next two evenings researching. He also reached out to her physician to understand her contraindications.
When the patient came back, Deric was ready. “We did an entire assessment from the top down and developed a plan of care focusing on her overall function,” he said. “What was stiff, we loosened and what was weak, we made stronger.” The patient was thrilled with her progress.
Hospital Operations Manager Bill Mannewitz, PT said both of these stories are great examples of therapists taking their own time to become better at their profession. “Our industry needs more people who are interested in being better clinicians,” he said. He also loves the way many of our therapists take advantage of RV’s Forum on RVNet. “We have hundreds of therapists with their own experiences and expertise,” he said. “Take advantage of it!”