By Brett Windsor
Most people involved in continuing education have a day job, and as much as we enjoy what we do in the continuing education area, it really never makes enough money to pay the bills. So…we have to find alternate employment in order to finance our vices. In my case, I daylight as an academic. I’m an Assistant Professor at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Not many people actually know where that is, but it’s in rural North Carolina, just south of Raleigh and we’ve just started a new program there. We have a fantastic group of young kids who are all eager, intelligent and really motivated to become good physical therapists.
Part of my role at the moment is to work with admissions, which often involves going out to career fairs in various parts of the state, working with admissions staff to stand behind booths and talk to young students about what’s going on in the physical therapy world and why our program may be suitable for them. Two such cases happened just this past week. I was at Eastern Carolina University on Monday and North Carolina State on Wednesday afternoon. And it was interesting, because a lot of times these days young people get a bad rap as being entitled, lazy, self interested, and not really all that interested in what’s going on. I had a lot of really good evidence to directly refute that. I spoke with a lot of bright, energetic, motivated, and talented students who asked really, really good questions; both about physical therapy and about our school. Many of the kids would be fantastic in our program and they’ll certainly be excellent additions to our profession.
I think sometimes we get lost in the shuffle and we tend to get dragged down by the pessimism and paranoia about the next generation coming through. It was always better in the old days, we say. Well, I’m not really sure that’s true. I for one feel very optimistic about the future and a lot of these kids are really, really going to make our profession look fantastic. On Wednesday evening, after the booths had closed and the convention halls closed, I had the chance to sit on a panel. Now luckily for me almost everybody else went home so I was left with just two of us on the panel and interestingly enough, some would say quite ironically, there was myself and a chiropractor. The chiropractor was from Sherman College down in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
She confided later in me that she was a little nervous having to sit in front of a physical therapist, but in the end we had a really fantastic conversation with about 20 students who were in the room and who were interested in the various programs. The panel was only supposed to go for 45 minutes, but in fact ended up going for close to an hour and a half. We just had a great chat with some really engaged, interesting, and deeply thoughtful students who were extremely reflective about their studies, their role in the world and how they could make a difference. So on that score, I’m very excited about the future because I think the young people coming up have an awful, awful lot to offer our profession.
On a side note, I thought it would be good to speak about chiropractic here because it was interesting sitting in the room and listening to the chiropractor talk about their program. And I couldn’t help but be struck by just how many things we actually have in common. They’re interested in wellness. They’re interested in solving problems before they start. A lot of chiropractors do much, much more than just manipulation. They’re interested in exercise. They’re interested in rehabilitation. They’re interested in nutrition. Now sure, there are chiropractors who probably don’t reflect well on their profession, just as there are physical therapists who don’t reflect well on our profession. But, maybe we’d be better off working with chiropractors instead of against them all the time?
Maybe it’s time to end the feud. There are differences. We’ll never resolve all the problems with manipulation. We’ll never resolve all the practice battles. We’ll never resolve all the turf battles. Physical therapists are no more a threat to chiropractic than the ten-year old standing on a corner selling lemonade is a threat to Pepsi and Coca Cola. There’s a bigger issue at stake – doing something to transfer our healthcare system from the “create a problem and fix the problem” approach towards a more forward looking idea of actually helping people get well and stay well. Then, they don’t become problems in older age, placing a lot of stress on the healthcare system. It’s well worth remembering that 2% of low back pain cases are responsible for well over 80% of the costs…
That’s all for now. I’m confident. I’m optimistic. We have a really bright future…
What do you think?