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Skillsets and Utility Belts

05/16/2013, 2:00pm EDT
By Chris Garland, PTA

The Importance of Teamwork

Are you keeping your practice fresh and evidence-based? Holy skillsets, Batman!

Chris Garland, PTA

Chris Garland, PTA

Bear with me here and picture this.  In PT and PTA school, you were issued your superhero costume. Let’s say for imagination's sake that PT and PTA students are Batman and Robin, respectively.  (I’m a Robin, by the way.)  We signed up for service.  We did the basic training.  We stood in line and were fitted for our tights and tied on our capes.  We were prepared with the foundation of how to be safe and competent.  Batman was trained for evaluating a situation, identifying the enemy, calling the game plan and kicking asterisks.  Robin was prepared for being Batman’s extra eyes and hands, ready to follow the plan and fight for the goals.  Before sliding down the bat-pole to our clinical sites, we buckled on our utility belt.  This utility belt was to become our toolkit of tricks, our weapons of warfare, our skills to heal.  Thanks to our clinical instructors, we added a few swell accessories to our belts.

Graduation… board exams and the PT/PTA team sweeps out into service with their issued gear.  Batmen and Robin… fighting their arch enemies Immobility and Pain.  KAPOW!  BAMM!  THWACK!

But seriously, Batman and Robin don’t have REAL superpowers, do they? No flying abilities without their batwing grapple gun, no X-ray vision without their night vision bat-goggles.  They have their fitness and fighting skills, but let’s be honest:  it was all about the utility belt and the gadgets it held that got them out of tight jams and put their foes out of commission.  Now, let’s talk gadgets for our duo.

As good superheroes and sidekicks, we should be filling our utility belts with quality tools that will save the day.  We can gather tools from mentors, workshops, conventions, seminars, articles or journal entries.  For license renewal, states set a minimum of CEUs to obtain.  As lifelong learners, our goal when selecting CEUs is to make them relevant to our situation, evidence based, and designed to improve our skills to provide better services to our patients.  Like our comic-based twosome, we should fill our utility belt wisely.

Being a PTA, if I choose a CEUs based on price, and immediate ease of access, but it’s a course that doesn’t exactly fit with my interests or situation, I have done myself, my physical therapist and my patients a disservice.  As Robin, it will not do for Batman to be in need of an accurate stream of Snooze Spray, and all I have in my belt is fogging Bug Spray.   Make your CEUs count.

Every session of physical therapy should contain SKILLED services.  They should be proven, honed and cultivated skills that should maximize results.  Those results are what will keep the public looking to physical therapy when a need arises and spread the word that PTs and PTAs are here to help.

Holy Skillsets, Batman.

Chris Garland, PTA is a Physical Therapist Assistant in the Outpatient Clinic of Cumberland County Hospital, a critical access facility in rural Kentucky.  She served on the APTA Student Assembly Board as SPTA Delegate in 2011, continuing her involvement as the current PTA Caucus Representative for Kentucky and on the KPTA Board of Directors. She was also recently appointed as the Chair of the Academic Advisory Council for Somerset Community College’s PTA Program. Her clinical interests are with the geriatric orthopeadic population. Chris received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Gifted Studies from Mississippi University for Women and her Associate in Applied Science Degree in PTA studies from Somerset Community College.

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