We can't really say it enough--it's simply wonderful to see PT students and young PTs enthusiastically jumping into our profession with both feet. And with passionate student leaders like Ryan Maddrey, the future of physical therapy in the United States is looking bright.
Ryan is a third year student physical therapist at the Medical University of the South Carolina and APTA Student Assembly Nominating Committee Chair-Elect. Outside of PT he enjoys music (he's got a growing vinyl collection!) and watching sports (specifically his alma mater Clemson Tigers!) Below he shares his refreshing PT perspective.
What made you decide to become a PT?
I decided to become a PT in my junior year of high school. After an exhaustive career search as part of a class project, I was urged to look back at what professions had shaped my own life. Having been born pigeon-toed and had extensive physical therapy myself following surgery, it immediately came to mind. Once the idea of PT school came about, it grew. Shadowing other PTs and joining every healthcare association in undergrad led to a strong passion for the field and for the advancement of the profession.
Is there an area of PT you’re particularly drawn to?
I am drawn to orthopedics and manual therapy. I enjoy using my hands to help patients and see the biggest change in prognosis when a therapist uses his/her hands to bring about change. Having attended several conferences, I have seen the need for clinical-researchers, so I also hope to contribute to the growing PT literature.
What kind of PT do you hope to be in the next few years?
I hope to become a PT that challenges patients to be active in the healing process, utilizes evidenced based practice and grows as much professionally as clinically. I strive to be a physical therapist that stays heavily involved to enhance both my own learning and patient care. The best practice is heavily invested in current topics and research and I hope to stay on top of my profession.
Why did you decide to get involved with APTASA?
My decision to get involved with the APTA Student Assembly began following the APTA NEXT Conference in 2015. By attending what was my first conference, I was able to speak to so many influential PTs and so many heavily involved students it made my head spin. While reflecting on the conference, I decided that I wanted to do my own part to help move the profession forward. I then applied for to run for the Student Assembly Board of Directors and never looked back. The Student Assembly has been the perfect opportunity for me to utilize my talents to make small changes for the better.
Why do you think it’s important for students and PTs to get involved in the APTA?
Students need to realize the large impact that their voice can make. We make up the largest section of membership in the APTA (as all student members are automatically members of the Student Assembly). We may not have a vote during House of Delegates, but we sure can make a lot of disruption on the floor. Members respect our opinions, as we will be the next leaders of the APTA. Also, the more students that are active members now will lead to a larger active membership basis in the future.
Do you think it's important for PTs to have mentors?
Mentorship is a valuable commodity not just for PT, but for all millennial. As my generation begins to join the work force, it is being said that we value personal relationships far more than brands. I good mentor goes a long way in my eyes. I am part of a growing mentorship group that focuses on both the clinical and business side of physical therapy.
Do you think continuing education makes a difference for PTs?
Continuing education is very important for PTs. It is an excellent ways to master the little things and add new ideas to the tool kit. A master does all the fundamentals well and the same approach should be taken with con-ed. Start by refining the small skills prior to adding new tools to your kit.
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 physical therapy become more streamlined with their approach to postgraduate education. There seems to be too many segmented certifications and a fragmented residency and fellowship program. It would also help if the debt to income ratio would be corrected to help foster future interest in the field. It can be a hard profession to sell when it is difficult to alleviate student debt after school.
Do you have a motto or mantra when it comes to your approach to care? If so, what is it?
I don’t have any that I follow yet. However, I have a lot of respect for the idea that a lot of musculoskeletal ailments stem from a lack of core musculature and strength through the chain. No pain or dysfunction is not interrelated and can be linked across multiple referral sources, musculoskeletal or otherwise.