Today NAIOMT faculty Stacy Soappman, PT, DSc, COMT, FAAOMPT weighs in on one of the most overlooked skills by PTs. Watch the video or read the transcript below filled with valuable insights about developing skills and experience over time, and the immense value of mentorship for a physical therapist.
I think one of the most overlooked skills by a PT is time. And time is just something that has to happen. I used to be so frustrated when my mentors would say, “just give it time, your hands will develop. They will come into practice.” They would tell me it’s about ten years before your hands and your brain can do the same thing, and as a young therapist I hated that answer because I wanted to feel it now and know now what was going on. They were right.
About 8 to 10 years into my career, in fact, it was two years post-fellowship that I actually felt like my brain and my hands could all do the same thing. And it was really frustrating, but when it all came together it was amazing.
I finally felt like I could see, feel, hear, touch everything simultaneously. And it was that time factor. It was my mentors who brought me through that whole time thing. I would say, as for mentorship, going with the time, use your mentors. Because they’re there for you, they have that time under their hands, under their brain, under their teaching. The two guys I did my fellowship probably have about 70 years of clinical practice between them. At this point in my career I have 14. And so there are just things that statistically they have seen that haven’t come into my practice content yet. So I still rely on them. I am 4-5 years past my fellowship now, and I still use them, I still keep my list of questions, and call them. It’s not a three-year thing and you’re done.
One of the biggest qualities you can have in a mentor is someone you can get along with for the rest of your life. Not two years residency, three years fellowship, this is a lifelong relationship that you’re entering into with your mentor. So you better like them. Make sure you get along on a professional and a personal basis. And it’s ok to have more than one mentor. You can have your clinical mentors and then you can have other mentors in your life that can help with PT life skills.
During middle of my fellowship I had both my children. After my second I was exhausted, my hands hurt. I just didn’t think I could do it anymore. And I had one of my other mentors in my life sit me down and “say you can do this. You are going to get through this, this is how I did it with young kids. I know your hands are hurting. Try it this way. I know you’re exhausted because you were up all night nursing your kids. Try this.” And so there’s going to be different mentors who come in and out of your life. Pick and choose them because they are going to be the ones who get your through those difficult times in your career.
–Stacy Soappman, PT, DSc, COMT, FAAOMPT
Connect with and learn from Stacy in person at one her upcoming courses:
Manip Like a Girl: Work Smarter Not Harder August 16 Colorado Springs, CO
Peripheral Manipulation October 11-12 Berrien Springs, MI
Lumbopelvic Spine October 18-19 New York, NY
Manip Like a Girl: Work Smarter Not Harder December 13 Seattle, WA