By Cindy Hon, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT (www.ptfitlife.com)
I’ve come across this answer a lot in the last few weeks to months. Not so much the questions - the questions can be very different - but the answer “Find a mentor” is always the same. Which questions does it answer? It answers quite a few questions: I’m a year out of school and started a new job, and I need help. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing? I’ve been out of school for 2-3 years, and don’t know if I should specialize in specific area of PT or what I should be doing in my career? Do I go back to residency or Fellowship? I’ve been out of school for 4-5 years, and I’m bored and don’t know what to do: do I stay in PT or do I switch careers?
My ultimate answer, my take home after a long discussion with anyone about these questions, is to find a mentor. This person can be someone whom you admire in the work place, or someone outside of work, or even a professor or boss from the past. However, find someone whom you admire for whatever reason who can help guide you to your answers. This person wouldn’t necessarily give you the answers, but will be able to guide you to your answers.
I’ve been in those shoes before and so have many other PTs. In my short career of 9 years, I’ve had 2 episodes where I’m bored at work and antsy to do something more. I was lucky in that I found a mentor in the first year of my career, Stephania Bell. She taught me a lot, but most of all she taught me the importance of having influential people in my life to help guide what I choose to do in my PT career.
The first time I became bored in PT was when I realized I needed more mentoring. I sought more training through the Advanced Skills program at Kaiser Permanente Northern California OMPT Fellowship (formerly known as Kaiser Hayward PT Fellowship) where Stephania was teaching before she left for the East Coast. The second time I became bored, I went back to finish the Fellowship program. Now I have a whole school of mentors to draw on, in addition to the two who directly mentored me in the Fellowship program.
As I start my next project of writing a research publication, I have yet more mentors to help guide me.
Find a mentor or mentors as your PT career evolves, and this will give you guidance to the answers you seek. FitBUX is developing a network specialized for PT’s - check out the mentoring forum and they can pair you up with someone who wants to be mentored or is interested in mentoring.