Continuing Education: Do We Own What We Learn?

Whether or not you are in the healthcare field your profession may require that you take continuing education to maintain a license/title/etc.  If you are one of the lucky people that fall into this category you are also aware that there are literally endless courses to choose from.  Very similar to research, you can take courses that align with your ideas, philosophies/ideologies to further cement your knowledge and understanding in what you are passionate about, or you can take courses that directly challenge your thought process to perhaps open up new avenues that you have not considered.  Whether you pick the former or the latter a common question I bring up to the classes I teach is:  Are you spending enough time truly owning what you have learned.

We can debate for hours which is better, McKenzie vs Mulligan, Graston vs Active Release Technique, Feldenkrias vs Myofascial Release, RockTape versus Kinesiotape.  The list goes on and on, but let's face it:  everything "works".  If it did not there would likely not be hundreds of people taking these courses every weekend.  What I have learned through conversation with fellow colleagues and taking/teaching courses myself is whichever you choose you need to stick to it, while avoiding the urge to create your own version of a technique you do not fully understand or have taken the time to implement.  The people who are most successful with any system or technique is because they stick to their methods with EVERY single patient.  There is no deviation because of time, age, or diagnosis.  As an example, the clinicians who are most successful with movement assessments constantly check their work.  They know instantly if they are prescribing "strengthening exercises" to a problem that needs to be "stretched or mobilized" because they will not see results between treatments/sessions.  This constant checking/re-checking guides their care, not sticking with a program for 6-8 weeks before re-evaluating.  Those are most successful with taping understand WHY they are taping (see our previous blog "Sticking it to Pain"), as well as how to explain the benefits and uses to patients.  Those are most successful with McKenzie, Mulligan or Functional Range Release techniques is because they give the proper time and duration to the treatments directed to specific areas.  There are no short cuts, no blending treatments, or creating your own.  Systems exist for a reason - because they have been deemed successful.

Let us clarify however, we are NOT saying that there is no benefit to combining treatments:  We do it constantly with SFMA/FMS, Graston/IASTM/Functional Release and Taping.  However, we follow each system as it was laid out and only move on to the next system if the patient earns the right to progress.  You cannot "release" inflammation so typically IASTM and taping may work best earlier on, progressed to functional release, after which the patient shows no tissue or mobility restriction in the area that they are in pain allows us to move to an SFMA/FMS assessment to uncover the "why" the pain occured and then finally progressing to the proper exercise regimen.  

The most problematic issue I find that comes up with any class I take is simply that it is the ideas/thought processes and trial and errors of another person or group of people.  I will likely never be able to think like them, but I know I need to try to get as close as possible.  At least until I create my own system or technique that people want to learn!  Another issue is that while there may be a lot of systems or courses that are great, since the inception of social media and the rising number of courses, everyone is about tearing other systems down.  The consequence is now competing, rather then collaborative thought processes.  Therapists and healthcare practitioners further will routinely label themselves a "Mulligan", "McKenzie", "Maitland" therapist, NOT a therapist who has taken Mulligan/McKenzie/Maitland courses.  The only people in my opinion who can "label" themselves are the people who created those systems in the first place.  As I say when I teach my kinesiology taping course:  EVERYONE LEAVES THE COURSE THE SAME WAY THEY CAME IN, especially after only 6-8 hours of practice (if it is a weekend course 12-16) that some people have taken years or their lives to perfect.  

So what is the bottom line?  Our suggestion is to take as many courses as possible.  Understand as much as possible and learn 1 new thing EVERYDAY.  After you take a course wait 6 months before taking another (I think we can ALL handle 2 a year!).  This allows you to truly practice each system or idea and make a judgement for yourself if it is for you and your patients.  Do not tape/graston/ART for a week after a course and determine if it is successful.  Get as large of a sample size as possible, hold yourself accountable and if you need help reach out to providers/course instructors for extra assistance (this is often a simple e-mail).  Ask to shadow, ask for more research, just ASK - the answers are out their, but too often we make our own hypothesis prematurely.  

Until next time Happy Rehabbing!