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Raising the Bar in Rehab

My First Article

Published June 2, 2011 3:31 PM by Lisa West

I wrote an article a few weeks ago for the Advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine magazine and was delighted to see it on the cover of this week's issue when I opened my mailbox today. I spent a lot of time thinking about the right topic to write about, focused on vocabulary to promote the physical therapy profession and dedicated hours to changing grammar errors and rewording poorly structured sentences.

Finally, I gained approval from every person involved and communicated with my editor through a grand finale of emails to put on the final touches. A lot more goes into writing an article than I knew when I initially agreed to the project, but the experience was a good challenge to make my writing more concise and communicate my intentions effectively. 

I wrote a lot when I was in college - for homework assignments, of course. By the time I finished school, I was able to pump out a four- or five-page assignment in less than two hours. I developed such a good rhythm of formulating an introduction, hypothesis, supporting evidence and summarization that it was almost a thoughtless process in many ways. For different assignments, I could tweak different parts of a previous assignment, turn the paper in and not think anything about it.

Now, a two-page paper took me over 12 hours to complete, from start to finish. As I wrote the article, I was very surprised by how much I struggled with the process. I write notes at work all day. I am head of the documentation (read: writing) committee at work. I read. So, why do my sentences sound confusing and my paragraphs not flow like they should? Well, Lisa, because you haven't written like this in years. 

I think it's very important to the physical therapy profession that we remain focused on acquiring and sharing new information. My struggle with writing an article is living proof that unused skills will dwindle away quickly. "Use or lose it," as they say. We need to maintain, and advance, both our skills at treatment and research in order to further promote our profession.

A physical therapist who lacks skills at analyzing and implementing research can be just as ineffective as a patient who self-diagnoses and self-treats based on Google searches. And to maintain those skills, we need to consistently practice them. That's why I wrote the article - so that I can share information about practicing physical therapy with other therapists.

I felt good today holding the magazine in my hands and seeing my article on the cover. It was like my own 15 minutes of fame. The hours of obsessing over each word I wrote paid off. I don't want to sound like a billboard, but please read my article. Not so I can brag about how many readers I have, but instead to tell me what you think.

4 comments

Dean-

Thanks so much for the feedback!  I really appreciate it.  

Lisa

Lisa West June 8, 2011 4:27 PM

Lisa, I also just read your article and left some comments on its content with it. (All positive!) In addition to being a good professional, you are also a good writer. That is really important to be able to present information to the public, insurance companies, the government, and anybody else who may not readily understand medical terminologies. If you keep this up, I can see you easily developing into some great leadership roles.

Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz June 8, 2011 12:53 PM

Jason-

I bet you can tell a big difference.  It's sometimes surprising how many patients are in the hospital for a few days and then finally get PT orders just hours before being discharged to a SNF.  Can you imagine how different the d/c options would be if only we would have worked with the patient since the day of their admission?

Lisa

Lisa West June 8, 2011 10:37 AM

Lisa, just read the article and there is confirmation that early mobilization works.  I hope more therapists emulate this.  Working in SNF's, I can tell who has been up and moving and who has been lying around while in the hospital.  

Jason Marketti June 8, 2011 12:53 AM

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