A Disturbing Trend
The old ladies of therapy have been talking again. This time we were discussing a trend we've noticed. We're concerned because what we've seen doesn't bode well for the future of our profession. None of us are excited with the new graduates we've been coming across. They don't impress us. They don't have the same commitment to the profession as those of our generation. They lack skills. Each of us old ladies had an experience of leading a new graduate by the hand through something because the grad didn't know what to do. These are the up and coming therapists who are supposed to lead us toward Vision 2020 and beyond. I expect better.
Now I'm not saying this is true of everyone who has graduated in the last few years. I've met some wonderful new and recent graduates. I've met some who have knowledge and skill beyond their experience. I've also met the opposite. I've lost count of the students who tell me they only want to do orthopedic outpatient. I can't count the times I've heard someone refuse to do something with the excuse of being the therapist. Worse, I've met several recent graduates who look down on us old gals because we do things "the old way." Does it matter how old the technique is as long as it is effective? Robin McKenzie developed his system over 40 years ago. It has proven to be effective over and over again. By that logic we should throw it out because it is an old therapy.
I'm not sure where the problem comes from. I've talked to professors. I'm taking courses. I don't' think the schools are teaching this. The attitude may be an unexpected byproduct of the learning process. I don't' think it is deliberate. Maybe the selection process inadvertently weeds in these individuals. Us old gals think it has something to do with the generation of individuals entering schools. We've noticed an attitude of expectation. Back in the day when I was in school I hoped I would find a job. I hoped I would make a decent salary. I worked as hard as I could so I could keep my scholarships to stay in school.
This last week I came across two prime examples of this behavior. One recent grad boasted how she could handle anything because she worked for 8 months rotating between several units in a hospital. I doubt that. She had trouble keeping her left neglect patient from walking in a circle right before she said that. I know that place she worked. It was good experience but nowhere near all encompassing.
The second example was a therapist who doesn't want to be a therapist. He made it a point to tell me he didn't like being a therapist. His real job was selling a medical product. So, I wanted to ask, why did you waste all that time in PT school? I would have except I had to walk away before I said something really not nice.
What concerns me is the lack of respect for the profession I see in this. Physical therapy doesn't need individuals who settle for mediocre because it is easy to accomplish. We need individuals who are pushing the envelope for every patient. If I take my horse to the vet I want a vet who not only knows what he is doing but is learning more and willing to stay with my horse as long as it takes. Horses are fragile. So are people. I want my loved one to have the best care possible which to me means someone who knows what to do, how to do it and doesn't mind if it isn't easy.
I know lots of experienced therapists who just get by. That isn't age specific. What is age specific is the apparent lack of knowledge and skills. Maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe what we're seeing is uncertainty or fear of being wrong. As I initially said, it isn't every one. Us old gals were just talking. We're old. We could be confused. I hope we happened to pick up on the outliers rather than the trend.