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Nature vs Nurture: What Molds us Into the Physical Therapists that We Become?

06/13/2011, 10:45pm EDT
By Christine Licata, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS

The Age Old Question

“Genes and family may determine the foundation of the house, but time and place determine its form.” Jerome Kagan


It is often debated whether a child’s upbringing or the influences that child is exposed to outside of the home during life has more of an effect on who that child grows to be.  On that line of thought, which has more of an impact on how a physical therapist develops their skill set and way of practice, the physical therapy program that they graduate from, or their initial clinical experiences post graduation?


In physical therapy school, we learn about basic concepts, guidelines established for general sets of diagnoses, and a skeleton of how initial evaluations should go based on the diagnosis presenting in front of us.  We are taught by specific individuals about how to utilize modalities, what therapeutic exercises should be paired with certain injuries, and how to document in a detailed manner.  It is with these experiences that we develop the brain of a physical therapist.


In our initial clinical experiences, we learn how to be empathetic and compassionate, and how to explain insurance benefits to a patient struggling with their finances.  We learn how to justify why patients should attend physical therapy, how to comfort and console, and how to work with and learn from others.  We also learn how to react to the unknown and unplanned, and how to think on our feet.  It is with these experiences that we develop the heart of a physical therapist. 


In thinking about what has molded you and shaped you into the physical therapist you are today, you may discover a good balance between brain and heart.   Reflecting on and being aware of your foundation may enable you to continue to develop a good balance between these two entities in the future.



Tag(s): Physical Therapy Pulse  All Articles  Christine Licata, DPT