MANY CLINICIANS AREN’T READY FOR VISION 2020
Last week I had the pleasure of hearing Rebecca Craik, PT, PhD speak. She gave her perspective on the past and future of physical therapy. As she is the editor of the Physical Therapy Journal she is in a position to talk realistically about what's ahead for us. I can sum her 90 minute lecture into two sentences. The profession of Physical Therapy is making good strides in preparation for Vision 2020. The individual therapists who make up the profession are not.
That sounds harsh. A few years ago our profession made decisions about where it wanted to be positioned by the year 2020. Based on those decisions action plans, such as the DPT, evidence based practice and specializations were put into place. Increased emphasis was placed on direct access. Whether these goals are reached in time is yet to be seen. But, as Dr. Craik pointed out, the changes were made.
According to Dr. Craik this is not true of individual clinicians. We have a lot to do to prepare. That includes being flexible and embracing the changes. Consider that less than 10% of practicing therapists are DPTs. The number of certified specialists is less than 10, 000 nationwide. Admittedly there has been resistance to changing, particularly concerning the DPT. This resistance is probably a big piece of why clinicians aren't ready.
The reality is the profession has changed. Dr. Craik pointed out that practice has become more like research. She also pointed out the lack of research. Currently there is a disconnect between research and clinical practice. What we need, said Dr. Craik, are more clinical oriented researchers. We the clinical know what needs to be researched. Who better to do it? Not all research has to be theoretically based. We also need research that support our treatments and defines the best practice for each.
It's easy to get caught up in everyday life. It takes time and money to get education or prepare for certification. My department is probably typical. No one else is interested in getting a DPT. No one else is willing to do the work to get a certification. Generalize that to the entire population of PTs and part of the problem is evident. Advanced degrees and certifications aren't reasonably for many people.
What about evidence based medicine? Only two of us in my department can actually explain it. A third, a new grad, knows what it is. The rest have no interest. Evidence based practice isn't difficult to understand. It could be learned in a CEU format either in person or online. I don't think I've seen even one course offered on the topic, only included with another topic. Including evidence in our education is important. But it doesn't do any good if no in the class understands the significance of the evidence. One of my future goals is to do a class for the facility. And I will, if I ever get the time to actually do it.
It's time for clinicians to wake up and get moving. The PT profession is moving forward. Either we adapt, make changes and go along for the ride. Or, we get left behind. The ripples of change are beginning to develop. It's easy to continue with business as usual. When those ripples become waves some of us will be lost in the undertow.