Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Learning Never Stops

Years ago when I graduated from physical therapy school, I thought I’d never have to learn again.  I thought that after 3 long years of school, I’d have all the tools to thrive as a solid physical therapist. 

I was wrong. 

It didn’t take me long to realize that being a physical therapist requires massive dedication and minimal ego.  Just when you think you’ve “got it” and feel unstoppable, you get torn right back down eating humble pie. 

I was extremely fortunate to have incredible mentors in my career.  After years of participating in post-graduate programs getting schooled daily, I figured, “now I’m complete”.

Wrong again.

Now, at this point in my career I was far from being lost and I’d like to think I was pretty competent as a clinician.  My training was top notch and I’ve learned more than I could have imagined from everyone.  I’m extremely grateful. 

But over the past few years I got complacent.  I was content with how I was functioning and at times put it on “cruise control”.  I stopped thirsting for new knowledge and thought I was at the ceiling of my potential. 

It only took 5 minutes of reading a health expert’s email blog that sparked my interest again and so my thirst returned.  And when you’re on the web, you know how that goes.  I kept branching off finding new and fresh exercises, techniques, health tips, fitness tools etc.  I realized how much cool information I’ve been missing out on but also realized how narrow-minded I’d become. I felt too comfortable in what I thought was an already expansive academic/clinical bubble I had created and was reticent to add more to it.

I needed to let my guard down and became more open to learning about subjects that I wasn’t familiar with or that I had previously thought weren’t as meaningful.  I started taking classes from people who weren’t clinicians but spoke from their success over decades of experience.  They had no professional credentials but definitely knew their stuff.  Even venturing away from traditional rehab classes has broadened my view on the human body and I feel has helped me grow further. 

I became re-invigorated.

I guess in some ways we’ll always be a student (even if you’re a teacher). I used to get overwhelmed in trying to keep up with all the new information out there but now I’ve learned to embrace it.  Learning never stops and it can only make us better.

David Kurihara, DPT, OCS, SCS, FAAOMPT

David Kurihara is a physical therapist for the Queen's Medical Center Sports Medicine Team in Hawaii, a Movement Links certified clinician/instructor, and a graduate of Kaiser Permanente's Residency and Fellowship programs.