I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to all my interviewees and readers. I’ve learned tons from all of you. The following are some of my favorite quotes from the interviews. Enjoy!
I think an insatiable desire to learn and grow professionally has been the backbone to my evolution as a physical therapist. Being happy with the satus quo is something that has never felt right to me, so I believe this has given me the desire to grow professionally. The biggest influence on my thinking and treatment of patients has been the mentors I have had over the years. I have had several mentors emphasizing different aspects of physical therapy along the way: everything from scientific reasoning to patient satisfaction to business, but all leading to a patient centered approach to care. Providing mentorship to students and new grads is naturally the next part of this process, which again, helps me grow professionally as well.
Life is an adventure for sure and I see my life as an ongoing journey. I’ve had many trials and tests, lessons learned and memories created. I always knew I wanted to be a physiotherapist, but never in my wildest dreams did I conceive that little precocious girl growing up in a rural village on the tiny island of Tobago would one day separate herself from her family, her source of comfort, strength and joy, leave behind the world as she knew it to pursue her dreams in a huge and whole new country, graduate and begin and grow a business all in 13 years…this has been and still is the most memorable adventure so far and I thank God for placing the right people, at the right time under the right circumstances to make this all possible. This has been great. I enjoyed it. Thank you for allowing me to share.
I make being a minimalist a mental state and operational life choice. I try not to make things too complicated – always holding the bigger picture greater than the details that comprise them. Many times life circumstances are not complicated. Many times the solution is easy. We just make it complicated because its more “fun” – it fuels some type of elemental desire embedded in human nature.
Speaking of differentiation, creating a “unique” you, will be your answer. This brings me back to the story and how people will remember you. I am not a branding expert, but if you exhibit and do what comes naturally to you, that will authenticate and brand you. Because, in the end, if you don’t rely on your strengths to succeed, you will only flaunt your weaknesses and that is foolish.
One of the most professionally satisfying periods in my professional career was leading the PT/OT clinic at the second largest field hospital in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005. This was a great deal of responsibility for a Captain, and definitely forced me to grow into a leadership role perhaps faster than I otherwise would have. Working in mass casualty situations and leading a small team in high stress situations in my military career is something that I think makes it easier for me to deal with the (comparably low stress) operations of even a dramatic private practice day. The Air Force also paid for a bachelor’s degree, two masters degrees, a fellowship and my tDPT. I’m proud of my service but consider myself blessed to have been granted the opportunities the Air Force gave me.
Learn to separate the idea from the person that has the idea, and to not be afraid to gently discuss errors in thinking – we all have them. There is much biologically unsound medicine… things that appear to help but are likely not helping by the way they are explained (homeopathy, acupuncture, ultrasound…. specific manual therapy techniques)… I think we need to be the most efficient providers instead of the most complacent providers.
Catching 2 of my 4 daughters, the 3rd in the hospital – instant Niagara Falls coming out of my eyes, seriously the most emotional I have ever been. From dry to huge tears of joy stat! My fourth and most recent daughter, was a home birth. Watching my amazing wife going through labor, coaching her when needed, reassuring her doubts, was really breath taking. It was all her, with very little coaching needed this time. Our midwives suggested she labor in the tub for a bit, then she got the urge to push, and in two pushes, out comes Leila into my hands in the water! Life is an adventure, and I can say I am a baby catcher!
My business partner was the first one I heard say that “balance” means there has to be a negative. So, to ask about “Work/Life Balance” is implying that there is always a negative occurring. I dont want to approach it as a Negative/Positive. I like to approach it as ‘How do you prioritize your work and Life activities on a regular basis, Daily, weekly, monthly… So, this is where I start the discussions with myself, my wife and with my biz partner. The question to them is “What do YOU need from me?” Obviously I already know what is expected or I’ve already had the discussion of what I can deliver. I can then make decisions based on my priorities and let people know when and if I can follow through. So, no surprises for anyone. Where people go wrong?, they don’t have frequent conversations with their spouse/partner/significant other to be discussing these weekly at a minimum. Priorities shift daily, weekly, monthly those affected HAVE to be kept in the open conversation. DON’T assume anything. 20 yrs married, 13 years business partner this still holds true
At some point in my legal career, I noticed online that there was some sort of seminar in Seattle on low back pain. I wanted to attend, but of course I couldn’t because I was a lawyer not a PT. This was just a while after I had spent a couple days bored out of my mind at a continuing legal education seminar. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to have the kind of job where I was actually interested in the continuing education. It was a good thought!
I hope you’ll join us in our efforts to better brand private practice physical therapy. We’ve talked a lot about the possibilities and the potential to take our branding to the next level, but none of this is doable without a united front and a unified effort. All of us would benefit from more patients seeking physical therapy more often. I want to set aside the silos and forget specialties for the moment and focus on one singular goal: getting patients through the doors of private practices across the country.
Trying to fix my own running injuries is what led me to become a physical therapist. As it turned out, I did not actually learn anything about running injuries in physical therapy school, but I did learn a lot about injury management in general. PT school also taught me the value of good, competent manual therapy — and I still emphasize that to the young physical therapists I teach in my clinic today. Becoming a physical therapist was just the first step on my lifelong quest to understand running injury management.
This is a seriously funny story. I was teaching a course in Columbia, Maryland, for about 36 people. We had a staff of six instructors, as we like to keep an average instructor to student ratio of 1:7. One of our instructors walked up to me in a very excited way and said, “Do you know who is taking this course?” I said, in my typical sarcastic way, “Uh 36 people? Bob Duvall is taking it!” Bob Duvall from Atlanta Sports Medicine, a good friend of mine and relatively well known on the east coast. “No” he said. “Gray Cook!” I looked at him with a blank stare and said, “Who’s Gray Cook?” He was dumb struck and said, “Only one of the foremost experts in strength training and functional movement! You seriously don’t know who he is?!” “No.” I said, “and by the way, he is taking our course like everyone else, so don’t treat him any different!” He walked away with a grin on his face and a bit of a star struck look. I really didn’t know who Gray was. Never heard of him, let alone what he was known for. I think that is why we became fast friends. He was tired of being treated like some kind of celebrity and I treated him like everyone else, like he actually is.
Success is developed through the navigation of an array of challenges and various learning opportunities that life both professionally and personally generates.The degree to which you succeed and progress will be determined by the degree that you stop to evaluate your learnings and lessons.It has been said that experience is an OK teacher but evaluated experience is an even better teacher.
Our children are surrounded by people who love them and are invested in their development consistent with how we are. I talk to my kids a lot about why I work – not, “Mommy has to work to buy groceries, school supplies, and pay for our home”, but “Mommy helps take care of other people, especially other mommies, so that they can be healthy and do what they want in life”. When they complain about homework, I talk to them about homework in the context of preparing you for meaningful work later in life.
We need to move away from dependence on 3rd party payers and referrals as we are letting that dictate how physios operate. Fee-for-service and direct access are great for the profession as they make us more accountable. Stop providing a KIA and asking to get paid for a BMW. We need to take the banner of movement experts and the tremendous opportunity that comes with truly understanding and treating movement dysfunctions (NOT pathoanatomy) and run with it, own it before someone else does.
The biggest take away was not to stress over the little things. Learning the natural ebbs and flows of business has been a little challenging but I have become much better at not stressing out when my schedule is not full for the following week. More times than not, by the time Monday comes around the schedule is full and I have the opposite problem of trying to find appointment times for patients. I have learned that if you are working hard and doing the right thing, success will follow.
Remember, we all got into this profession because we felt a calling to help people. When you are in the hospital, clinic, etc. remember it ain’t about you, its about them.This is a profession, not a job! Professionals are constantly updating, improving and honing their craft to make themselves the best they can. I really believe if more PTs treated physical therapy as a profession vs. a job, we would eliminate a lot of the problems we face right now.
The big lessons I’ve learned are to welcome change and endings as a necessary part of life, and to be decisive and act, so that you can stay successful in both business and personal relationships.
Step outside your typical population and learn from the other specialties. I have gained so much from my partnership with pediatric specialist, Shelley Mannell. We jokingly refer to our collaborations as our own private Combined Sections Meeting. How many shoulder courses can you take, really? Explore neuro or peds or womens health and see what a different perspective can do to shake up your clinical reasoning.
Thank you everyone!