PT Profile: Keaton Ray

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This week, let’s give a warm welcome to Keaton Ray PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS–someone who’s early in her career, yet blazing an inspiring trail, and is eager to continue learning, growing, contributing and leading our profession in the years ahead. She’s an outpatient orthopedic PT in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Duke in 2014. While studying, she was class president and served two terms on the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors. She’s now serving as a Delegate for the Oregon chapter of the APTA and is Director of Communications and Outreach for PT Day of Service.

What made you decide to become a PT?

This question has always been hard for me because I don’t have a transformational, moving story like everyone else! It all started while I was suffering through AP Bio in high school, reading the white board notes from the previous Kinesiology class. From that point on, you couldn’t get me out of the athletic training room. The stars aligned and 10 years later here I am!

Is there an area of PT you’re particularly drawn to?

My previous experiences as a gymnast and athletic trainer naturally pointed me towards orthopedics and sports. I’m currently lucky enough to be working in a fantastic outpatient company, Advance Sports and Spine Therapy, who has offered me endless mentorship and set a high standard for orthopedic care. More recently I’ve started to utilize my background as a competitive gymnast to work with young gymnasts on injury prevention and performance enhancement and hope to expand this practice in the upcoming year!

What kind of PT do you hope to be in the next few years? How do you hope to evolve in your field over the next few decades?

Since day one of PT school I knew that eventually I’d want to move into a non-clinical leadership role at least part time. Whether this entails clinic ownership, administration, teaching, advocacy, consulting, etc; I’m still exploring what exactly this means to me. In the mean time, I plan to take the next few years to really develop my clinical expertise and continue my professional involvement both at the state and national level.

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Why did you decide to get involved with APTA student assembly and become an OPTA delegate?

One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” I stumbled upon the opportunity to serve on the Student Assembly with little time to spare and said to myself, why not? I may be busy, but other students have balanced school and leadership before me so why can’t I? With some hard work and determination, I was elected to serve two terms on the Student Assembly and the trajectory of my future career was changed forever. Because I made the decision to–as Nike says–“just do it,” I made valuable connections and gained unique experiences that positioned me to be able to run for delegate in Oregon immediately after graduation.  I quoted the above because on the surface it feels like these opportunities fell in my lap by pure luck. I know now that as soon as I decided to work a little harder than the average student, professional opportunities starting pouring in left and right and I am now more fulfilled and ahead in my career than I could have ever hoped for.

Why do you think it’s important for students and PTs to get involved in the APTA?

Getting involved means different things to different people. Not everyone has to be fully invested in a leadership position to be considered involved, but absolutely everyone who is currently practicing should be engaged with their profession. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes at APTA that have set the industry standard for how we practice: advocacy for direct access, fighting for medicare coverage, protecting our practice acts, marketing our skills to society, defining our scope of practice, investigating student loan debt, etc, etc. Even if you are not directly feeling the personal benefit of being an APTA member now, know that advancements in our profession would be much slower to come about if we didn’t have a powerful and well organized organization behind us.

Tell us a bit about PTDOS and how others can get involved.

PT Day of Service was an idea created last year by two good friends and colleagues, Efosa Guobadia and Josh D’Angelo. These two dreamt of a day where the global PT profession united to give back to their communities through service. With the help of myself and a growing team of volunteers, we were able to pull off the first official PTDOS in October 2015 with 3700 participants from 28 countries. This year PTDOS will be October 15th and we hope to recruit more than 10,000 participants globally and already have over 20 countries participating!  If you are interested in participating in or organizing a service project for your community, school, or workplace, pledge to participate at www.ptdayofservice.com and follow our social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (#PTDOS)!

Do you think it’s important for PTs to have mentors?

Having a mentor is so much more than someone who teaches you something, but rather someone who is invested in your development as a professional, clinician, and an individual. I have been gifted with mentors during every step of my career. In their own way, each of these people have saved me from straying off track of my goals and continue to hold me to a high standard in everything I do. I believe one of the best ways to acquire a mentor is to make sure that you end up in a high quality, research based, ethical first job after school. If you are a new professional who is lucky enough to find yourselves in one of these, don’t hesitate to confide in a coworker and ask for guidance. Often times the opportunity to develop a mentor-mentee relationship is right in front of you but is left untapped. For those of you who look around and there is no opportunity to develop this mentor-mentee relationship at your workplace, you may want to consider a new job!

Do you think continuing education makes a difference for PTs? 

Stagnation is a real problem not just in physical therapy but in all professional roles. You wouldn’t want an unmotivated oncologist just like you wouldn’t want an unmotivated stock broker! Unfortunately, there are far too many PTs in our profession who become set in their ways and offer services that do not fall within evidence based practice, are not patient-centered, and are wasteful. If every PT practiced with the high standards that are expected of us, we likely wouldn’t have to fight so hard for reimbursement, direct access, and autonomy. This is why high quality, regulated continuing education is so vital to students and professionals alike. I’d thoroughly encourage students to avoid overloading on random con-ed courses but rather find a system that allows you to develop solid critical reasoning, differential diagnostic, and assessment skills right off the bat.

What are some of the changes you’d like to see made in PT in the next decade? How do you think those changes can be achieved?

I would love to see a more united profession in the next 10 years. Each one of us has witnessed the good PTs can do for the health of our communities. But how often do you become frustrated by the lack of public awareness and misunderstanding around what we do? Society should be actively seeking and willing to pay for our services. Physicians should think PT first over prescription medication. Patients who do end up in our offices should be getting better via high quality treatment approaches. Insurance companies shouldn’t question our billing because they know it is ethical and justified. With a highly motivated, engaged, and innovative generation of PTs on the rise; I know these things are all possible!

Do you have a motto or mantra when it comes to your approach to care? 

Ever had a patient who blames his or her pain on their age and isn’t willing to do their exercises? I just tell them “You don’t grow old, you just grow stiff!” Works like a charm!

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