Ever find yourself sitting in class thinking...."I wonder how therapeutic ultrasound works"? Or drinking your second monster of the day during finals week or in the middle of a hectic shift and thinking..."What in the heck is in this thing?"
If you have give this amazing post a read about what life is like as a skeptic and how you can use that inner curiosity to further expand your knowledge. Soon to be Dr. Vikram Somal would love to take you through his daily thoughts in terms of how to be a life-long learner. Give this guest blog a read as I believe it is one of the most in-depth ideas I have had the pleasure to read:
Author: Vikram Somal, SPT, MS, CSCS
As long as I can remember I’ve been a skeptic. Skeptical of what’s in the food I eat, the water I drink, what I hear on the news, what mainstream medicine recommends, and practically everything I learned in school (at all levels). Any topic with the slightest bit of gray area and I was focusing in on that gray area asking why/how, and largely ignoring the rest. This is to a fault maybe, but I’ve learned to channel this skepticism in a way that has helped my learning/understanding in school (and help me sleep at night knowing how many times I’ve used therapeutic US for musculoskeletal conditions). Critically questioning the content taught in PT school is how I’ve found I learn best. That’s how I’ve challenged myself to create an active learning environment. If I like the concept, it makes sense in the framework of my prior knowledge, and I can prove it to myself – it sticks. If it sounds overreaching, doesn’t make sense in my current framework, and I can prove to myself that it’s bullshit – it also sticks.
Most people enter PT school with an open mind, eager to soak up knowledge that will serve as their framework as a PT. They expect that, in a doctorate level program, they will learn the most current, evidenced-based, and pertinent information/techniques necessary to be a successful PT. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Not to worry though, misinformation is all around us. Part of being a professional is constantly challenging our own beliefs. Pushing forward the profession and, more importantly, provide the best care for patients/clients. Enter skepticism. When you are in PT school, you won’t have time to dive into the details of every concept you learn. Just keep your radar up, pick and choose the things that you find interesting, questionable, or don’t know much about. Say you’re interested in manual therapy. Of course you’ll learn its benefits in class, so read why manual therapy sucks. If you don’t know much about the business side of PT, check out someone who knows about it. Is that super specialized TrA activation exercise you just learned where patients with LBP draw in their belly button, tuck their pelvis, blow out a candle, and wiggle their right ear while you palpate their belly to time TrA activation correctly any more effective than a plank (here, here)? All valid topics to dive into.
Of course, being skeptical can engender an equally reciprocal bias, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid in the first place. This is easy to do, I’ve done it myself, and that’s where you should strive to temper skepticism with reality. For example, you might look at the literature and come to the conclusion that kinesio taping is completely bogus, you write it off, and consider anyone who uses it a quack. Then you go to your clinical site and see your CI use it successfully on a patient. What happened? You were so sure about what you read. This should start turning the wheels for you to question your bias. The reality is that there is a gray area in almost everything that involves human behavior. Peer-reviewed literature itself can be biased or even completely false. Are we just back where we started then? No. This is where you use your critical analysis of the interventions in conjunction with the contextual factors of the patient case to determine what’s best. Being skeptical to me is just a method to participate in an active learning process. It takes time and deliberate effort to do, so it may not be for everyone. But, for many it can be a fruitful way to sharpen your framework as a clinician and critical thinking skills.
Here’s my tips for the skeptics out there: (1) enrich your understanding by questioning what you know and what you think you know, (2) let the literature direct you, but not bias you too strongly in one direction (3) temper your “book” knowledge with clinical experience when you finally get it, and (4) don’t stop being skeptical.
But, who knows? I’m probably wrong.
Now tell me that blog doesn't get your wheels spinning?! There isn't much else to say except stay curious and always question your own biases.
Happy Friday my friends--until next week!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.