TJ’s involvement within the APTA has grown rapidly over the past couple of years, and is currently the APTA New Jersey Student Assembly Vice-Chair and Vice President of the Private Practice Section’s SSIG. He has represented the NJ student body at APTA’s Federal Advocacy Forum for two years and has played a vital role in elevating the student voice within the New Jersey chapter. TJ has maintained steady involvement within APTA National as he recently ran for a position on the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors and remains active in various student assembly project committees. In his spare time TJ is an active volunteer, blogger and social media team member at PhysioPedia. Upon graduation, TJ plans to continue his involvement within the APTA, begin an orthopedic residency program and in the future complete a manual therapy fellowship.
Where do you practice/study?
I am in my final year of the DPT program at Rutgers University in New Jersey. At the current time I am having a blast in the Pacific Northwest and I am completing a 12-week outpatient orthopedic internship at Therapeutic Associates in Portland, Oregon.
Why did you choose PT as a career?
I had known since high school that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. My high school had put on a career fair during my sophomore year and this is where I had my first run in with a physical therapist. At the time I had been volunteering for my local hospital where I had spent a good amount of time within the various hospital departments. When I finally made it to the physical therapy department, I knew after my first week there that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Physical therapy stood out among the other career options in that I could so obviously see how the therapist’s work was contributing to the healing process on more than just a physical level. The physical therapists genuinely cared, they were patient centered, they listened, and they connected with their patients on a much greater level than any other healthcare professional in that hospital. To this day I know I have made the best career choice and I’m reminded of that everyday by the patients I work with.
What has surprised you about PT so far?
Since starting physical therapy school I have been surprised by a number of things. On a daily basis I am amazed by how supportive the physical therapy community is. Between my student and professional networks, social media and conference going, I feel that finding the resources and tools for success are so easily accessible. The physical therapy community is so willing to seek opportunities to help colleagues and in my experience, mentor and learn from students.
As I have come to understand physical therapy on a professional level, I am surprised by how little the general population knows about physical therapy including our extensive musculoskeletal knowledge, direct access and the decreased cost and increased outcomes associated with early access to physical therapy services. I am surprised at how difficult it is to spread this education to patients, other health care professionals, lawmakers and insurance companies, in order for them to better understand a physical therapists role among the health care team.
Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced so far and how you worked through it.
I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced thus far as a student of physical therapy is learning to cope with the idea that there are no concrete answers in patient care. My 19 year career as a student full of standardized testing, mindless studying and memorization has led me to believe that there is a correct or incorrect answer for everything out there. Now on one of my final internships I still struggle with this discomfort (check out my blog on this topic). I have learned very quickly that even though approaches to rehab appear very outlined and “cookbook” while in school, when it comes to real life clinical patient care a recipe just doesn’t cut it. I believe critical thinking is something emphasized in school, but I don’t believe anyone can truly “teach us” to critically think. It’s something that requires practice, and consistency and something that I believe needs more emphasis, especially while on clinical internships. Fortunately for me I was picked up early on by a network of professionals who want to see students succeed, who have provided me with the tools to apply and analyze my thought processes daily.
What value do you place on connecting with PTs across the country (and world) via social media?
It is so hard to put a value on this. To this day I tell everyone especially the newer DPT students that engaging with students and professionals via social media (specifically Twitter) has changed the dynamic of my physical therapy school education. Social media, when used correctly, is an opportunity to continuously draw insight and expertise from across the world. Whether it has been sharing of research articles or building a dynamic mentorship in various aspects of my clinical interests, social media has made finding new and innovative avenues for learning easily accessible. Twitter has connected me both virtually and in person with some of the movers and shakers within the physical therapy profession. Social media has opened doors to endless professional opportunities for me and it has brought me closer mentors who have helped to shape my rapidly approaching future as a professional physical therapist. (Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter! @TJ_Janicky)
Do you plan on participating in continuing education and learning new manual therapy techniques? Why?
Of course! In fact I have completed several orthopedic residency applications as I am ready to dive into a dynamic learning experience immediately out of school. I feel that school has equipped me with an arsenal of treatment theories, concepts and a basic set of manual skills in order to treat safely. The CEUs that I have already began diving into have all been valuable in that they have allowed me to discover my clinical strengths and weaknesses, they have required me to think critically about why I chose one manual technique over the other and they have allowed me to become exposed to and analyze the ever growing body of clinical evidence. Physical therapy is by no means a static profession. If you aren’t consistently keeping up with the newest research, applying and reflecting, then you are going to be left behind, patients will suffer and ultimately the profession suffers. We have a duty as professionals to remain informed and developing these positive practice habits as a student will prepare us for the reality of professional practice.
Do you have any influential mentors?
Yes quite a few actually!
Jerry Durham is probably one of the realist guys I know. Jerry was the first professional to interact with me on Twitter. Jerry made me not only comfortable with joining physical therapy related conversations, he made me feel and realize how important my opinions and insight as a student were to the future of physical therapy. I owe Jerry quite a bit for the confidence he has instilled in me as a student and soon to be professional. Since then Jerry and I have connected in person on numerous occasions and his passion for the profession and engaging students is one I look forward to exemplifying throughout my own professional career.
Ann Wendel has been a mentor of life for me in many ways. Ann has provided me with some vital mentorship when it comes to coping with work and life struggles. Ann is probably one of the strongest woman I know and I’m so glad to have her friendship and guidance
Kathy Mairella is one of my professors at Rutgers. Dr. Mairella caught me quite early in my professional education and I’m forever grateful that she did. Dr. Mairella made me feel comfortable diving into leadership roles within the professional association, she equipped me with the skills to do so. Dr. Mairella is largely responsible for the confident, go getter I am today. Dr. Mairella continues to support and coach me through my professional and association related endeavors.
I have so many mentors worth mentioning that have helped me to fill the gaps in my formal physical therapy education. If I mentioned them all we would be here a while, so check out who I frequently interact with via Twitter 🙂
What is it that makes you a PT worth seeing?
I’m not sure I have enough clinical experience to prove my “worth,” but what I lack in clinical experience I believe I make up for with a passion to learn and grow from each patient I see. I have a passion for constant learning and I am in pursuit of of becoming the best at what I do. I am looking forward to making my mark in the professional physical therapy world and becoming a coach to a fulfilling and heathy life for each patient.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Students are the future of physical therapy. The time is now for each an every one of us first or third year to learn and grow from those who are out there practicing and facing the challenges of healthcare and clinical care(social media makes this so simple). Take a proactive approach at becoming the innovative, outside the box physical therapist that your future patients need and deserve!
What a pleasure getting to know a bit about you TJ! We look forward to connecting with you as you move forward in your career. The PT community is lucky to have you!