Ethan recently graduated with his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from New York Medical College. He was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has resided in Boston, New York, and presently lives in Colorado Springs. His hobbies include Crossfit, hiking, and mountain biking. His family owns a home in Silverthorne, Colorado which motivated him to move out to Colorado after experiencing the beauty of the area.
Where do you practice?
I am currently working in Colorado Springs, CO at ProActive Therapeutic Alliance, an outpatient orthopedics clinic which sees a wide variety of patients from young children with delayed developmental milestones to geriatric patients with a chronic history of pain.
What made you decide to become a PT?
I was always interested in understanding the human body even as a child. As a high school wrestler I became much more involved with physical fitness and realized I wanted to work in the health care field. I explored different options and decided physical therapy involved good science and helping people with improving their lives. After shadowing a number of physical therapists and clinics, I decided it is where I wanted to be. I majored in Exercise Physiology at Adelphi University in New York, which reinforced my interest in physical therapy.
Is there an area of PT you’re particularly drawn to?
Since I just graduated, I am practicing as a generalist in order to gain experience with many age groups and different types of therapeutic interventions. I especially enjoy working with patients who are recovering from injuries and need programs to gain back functionality.
What kind of PT do you hope to become in the next few decades?
How can PTs help spread the knowledge that getting PT first can save time and money for all involved, and still be effective in most cases?
There is good scientific literature supporting the use of physical therapy to avoid long term disability. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in a group of patients who fulfilled the criteria for knee replacement, physical therapy without surgical intervention improved quality of life scores in 65% of them. For those who went on to surgery, physical therapy ahead of time was associated with a faster postoperative recovery (NEJM, Skou et al, volume 373, No.17 page 1605, October, 2015). I think it is our job as physical therapists to interpret this literature to the public and make sure they know how effective physical therapy can be.
Tell us about a PT-related challenge you’ve faced so far and how you worked through it.
One challenge that I currently experience is ensuring that documentation of patients is optimal in regards to being detailed enough for other physical therapists and insurance companies to fully understand what the patient status is, but be efficient at the same time. Throughout my experiences in physical therapy school and currently working full time, physical therapists are still struggling with making their notes detailed enough, ensuring that patients are receiving the best care possible, and at the same time being efficient with all of it. It’s been incredibly difficult to make sure there’s optimal balance between these three areas, especially now with the recent move to ICD-10. I’m still trying to find that balance, and so are many physical therapists with even 20+ years of experience. The main thing I do to work through this is to always put patient care first and work as best as possible to ensure that documentation is concise, but provides enough detail to ensure that questions that could come up with the documentation are as minimized as possible. There are many options as well in terms of choosing an efficient documentation system for your clinic and deciding what documentation methods are best for you. Overall, this is a challenge that will continue with all physical therapists
Do you think it's important for PTs to have mentors?
Physicians have internships and residencies to get this kind of experience. Most physical therapists go directly into practice out of their three year program. I have a wonderful mentor who has been in practice for over twenty years and is phenomenal.
Do you think continuing education makes a difference for PTs? Do you think it can affect their quality of work in the clinic with patients?
Continuing education is essential for all physical therapists. It helps you keep up with new research, helps you network with other practitioners, and often motivates you to become a better therapist. Patients always benefit from working with therapists who continue to learn and keep up with more advanced techniques than what they learned in their original training.
What are some of the changes you’d like to see made in PT in the next decade? How do you think those changes can be achieved?
I would like to see more investment in clinical trials so we can advance physical therapy as an integral part of patient care. We need ongoing investment in physical therapy by the universities and the national institutes of health to continue to add on to evidence-based practice and promoting our field.
Do you have a motto or mantra when it comes to your approach to care? If so, what is it?
Always do what is best for the patient. There is no greater importance than providing interventions that are evidence based and optimal to get the patient back to their prior quality of life as best as possible.
What makes you a PT worth seeing?
I am always motivated to design a program that is adapted to that patient’s particular needs and utilize evidence based practice to the best of my ability. In addition, I feel that my enthusiasm makes my patients motivated to want to be able to improve themselves so they will be able to return to their prior quality of life as best as possible.