The decision to go to residency is so easy. Yes, of course I want to go. Learn more? Become better skilled in the path you wish to take? Have confidence in my Knowledge, Skills and Abilities? No problem.
Well, the time and monetary cost (with no direct compensation link) are a common deterrent to pursuing residency after school... or in the middle of a career. Yes, the third year of DPT school should be a residency in your anticipated specialty field, getting paid and paying for a residency... but that's another discussion. For those of you that do not or cannot seek out the residency may I suggest a Self-Residency.
This format consists of mentorship, meetings, content and reflection.
Mentorship: This can be formal or informal and involves three tiers of influence. For context, see Tai Lopez below on The Law of 33%
The basics are this: you grow with the people around you. Mentorship can come in a variety of forms and you need to be part of the process. Find trusted people with 10x more experience/expertise than you (top 33%), interact with peers that are moving and shaking (middle 33%) and actively mentor those in the first steps of their journey (lower 33%).
The Top 33%: Keep in touch with professors from Uni, follow smart people on Twitter. Read research. Keep relationships with your Clinical Instructors. You need not have a direct relationship with a person to be influenced by them, to take some of their advice, to be inspired to improve or to check your own actions against. I attempt to maintain open channels (amid the hustle a bustle of life) via emails or social media with prior CIs and those that have accomplished things in my field. Reach out, you will get less resistance to your request for help than you think.
The Middle 33%: Keep active in that study group from school. Bond together with your coworkers, make a journal club together, keep that group text going about what courses you are going to, etc. Practical anecdote: The PBPT keeps a message feed open to discuss concepts, share videos and papers, ask questions of each other about treatments, diagnostic findings, ethics in the workplace, and on. (The internet allows you to maintain contact with clinicians you trust, no matter the distance.) In-person meetings allow more elaboration, maybe a rant or two, and hands-on technique displays. It's also nice to share a beer with peers going through similar professional cycles.
The Lower 33%: Engage your PT techs, your volunteers, your DPT students, your front desk staff. Help that 8th grader see the importance of good grades no matter the subject. More formal options include tutoring in sciences to high-schoolers/undergrads. This exercise can allow you to fine tune your communication skills explaining complex things to interested individuals who don't have the foundation you do. Help a senior understand the PTCAS process...you will get more out of this than you give, no doubt.
Remember that one teacher or coach that had a big influence on where you are today? What's their name? Now, imagine if someone out there is saying your name...
More on this- John Childs has a nice post on his experience here.
Meetings: Go to your local PT Association meetings. Con Ed is as much about the people you meet, as it is the content. That being said: master the content (below). You will learn on various topics and networking (which just means stand around, be yourself and say 'hi.') can lead to many opportunities. As mentioned above, meetings allow elaboration on complex questions you have. Nothing really beats a face to face conversation in a safe open environment. Here is where You can lead the discussion and go after your weaknesses.
"Don't show up to prove, show up to improve." - Simon Sinek
Content: Open up your Netter's Atlas, open up your amputation rehab text book. The answers are all at your fingertips if you can be self-driven. Orthopedic rehab did not, since you graduated in the past 5 years, change so dramatically that your text book is just a paper weight. If your texts are old, buy the newest version and boom: content. Formal Research is available through associations, online, those prior professors, your peers and the study authors. Youtube is full of people demonstrating techniques, treatment movements, exercises (you'll have to filter the junk on your own, of course).
To mimic a residency, content should also take a more formal avenue. Perhaps your group (anyone from your 3 mentorship groups) agree to read a chapter of Dutton's Orthopeadics and get on Skype and quiz each other. This can be done with your Middle and Lower 33% groups quite easily. Engage your Upper 33% with specific questions that you have about the content, or ask them to elaborate on a technique, etc.
If you're serious about solidifying the content (as you would be asked to do in a formal residency) then reading and quizzing are part of the process.
Reflection: Ask yourself questions to keep on track. Your Clinical Instructors did that while you when a student, it's up to you, or a co-worker, to challenge your decisions.
"What was it that I did that made a difference?"
"Why did I choose to leave out those two tests and focus on the hip?"
Assume you could always have done it better in some way. What way might that have been?
Things like explaining your clinical findings to a co-worker or colleague will illuminate weakness. They might say "Did you check for long track signs?" You are now in a position to say yes or no and why. That's simple reflection. You're doing it right there!
So that's the plan.
The above is a lot of self-motivation and it may not happen everyday or even every week or month. The decision of skipping a "real life event" for your "made up residency" is tough, and many will not understand it, including yourself at times. "Oh sure, you have to Skype right now and talk about the osteotendenous junction." It's much easier to carve out time when it is hoisted upon you by a formal residency.
Is this post just detailing the conflict I personally have about not completing formal residency? Sure, in parts, no doubt. This post is really for those that feel the same as me. Those that want guidance, confidence and improvement.
-Matt Dancigers, DPT
*I may not be the best person to speak on benefits of formal residency. I believe they are an important part of developing a clinician... in an ideal world.
Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!
Keeping it Eclectic...