Warm welcome to Dr. Gene Shirokobrod of Updoc Media's Therapy Insiders to our PT Profile series!
Dr. Shirokobrod is an avid proponent of multifaceted physical therapy, which includes manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular retraining and movement analysis. He graduated from University of Maryland School of Medicine-Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science, completed his undergraduate studies at McDaniel College, in Westminster Maryland, holds his Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and is certified as an Orthopedic Manipulative Physical Therapist (OMPT) through the Maryland Manual Therapy Certification Program. He co-founded Verve LLC, where he, along with his partner, developed and created The ARC, a device for neck, back pain relief and postural support in sitting.
Why did you initially choose PT?
I was always interested in medicine. Actually, more fascinated by problem solving to help people improve their lives. I figured healthcare in general was a good field due to the nature of human injuries being a recurring issue. It was back in high school, so it was more anticipatory in regards to what type of lifestyle I would want. After analyzing the healthcare landscape and shadowing some physicians and PTs, I made the decision that lined up best with my personality and desired lifestyle…which was PT.
How has your manual therapy education shaped how you see the PT field today?
When I started PT school I knew that I wanted to be a manual therapist. Then everyone knew I wanted to be a manual therapist because I pestered the manual therapy professor to show me more techniques and all the “cool” stuff he could do. Then I would practice on all my class mates, friends, family, unsuspecting strangers (joking…sort of). Early on I really bought into the thought that I could make significant changes for people with my hands. That’s not the healthiest mindset to have for the clinician because it facilitates a dependency of the patient on the clinician and the clinician on results from manual techniques. The more I practiced and learned my thought process shifted: manual therapy is a means to an end not the entire end.
How important do you think the role of mentorship is in physical therapy?
I was incredibly lucky to have awesome mentors from Josh Renzi (one of the best clinicians I’ve ever been around) to John Baur (great vision and business sense). And of course, Jim Meadows, who helped me think critically and effectively early in my career.
Have you ever done a complete pivot professionally?
Is completely leaving clinical practice considered a complete pivot? A couple years ago I partnered with an engineer and created a neck pain relief and posture support device. We did a kickstarter campaign, raised $30k in 40 days, were featured in a bunch of media and auditioned for Shark Tank (almost made it on). I also launched a media company called UpDoc Media with awesome partners (Erson Religioso, Joe Palmer and Ben Fung) to create podcasts, webinars, business consulting and continuing education hosting.
Do you think all PTs should engage in manual therapy continuing education regardless of experience level?
I think it's up to the course to define the experience level required. Personally, having taken a manual cert. course with Jim Meadows as a 3rd year DPT student, I found it to be an incredible experience. I was able to learn a new level of thought process, clinical reasoning and techniques that I was able to polish with an awesome mentor.
What are some of the changes you hope can be made within PT field in the next decade?
I hope that business principals including social media integration and marketing are taught in PT school. I would like to see PTs become more proactive as business leaders by looking at other models for healthcare delivery and revenue generation.
What advice would you give to new physical therapists and students about to embark on their careers?
Biggest advice is be true to your vision. Don’t do what others think you should do or what you think is expected. If you want to open a practice, then do it. Make sure you understand the business side, (which if taught in school would be easier) then do it. If you want to work in acute care… then do it. Simple as that.
Why was the Therapy Insiders podcast created?
Funny, this comes full circle. Therapy Insiders was created because I was completely frustrated with some of the idiocy I was hearing during Jim’s manual therapy course from PTs that were practicing for a long time. So I bought a mic, convinced my buddy Joe Palmer to do it with me. Grabbed Jim, told him we are starting a podcast and off we went.
What do Therapy Insiders interviews and discussions offer PTs who listen? What do you learn as you go through each podcast?
We aim to entertain while learning from our guests. Therapy Insiders has evolved over the last couple years from clinical focus to an eclectic mix. We want to integrate business principals, motivation and connect our listeners with our very established guests on a genuine level. Over 60+ interviews I’ve learned and analyzed some unique commonalities of highly driven and successful people. In the near future, I plan on putting it all together in some sort of book, video or maybe a marathon podcast. Who knows. Stay tuned!
Questions? Get in touch with Dr. Gene on Twitter or reach out to us at The North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy!