If you spend any time in the PT-Twitterverse, you've likely seen the plethora of PT students building relationships with other clinicians and tackling some our field's most pressing issues. We continued to be impressed by the leadership and professionalism this population is demonstrating, and how committed so many are to making a difference right from the start. Among these passionate PT student leaders is Megan Mitchell. And she kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
Welcome Megan! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a current third year DPT Student at the University of Maryland Baltimore. One of my favorite things about being in the PT profession is that I don’t consider it work because it encompasses so many of my interests and values. A large majority of my time is spent in one way or another related to the profession, but I love it! I was just recently at the Women in PT Summit in NYC, put on by Dr. Karen Litzy, where we discussed the concept of work-life integration or work-life blend. I think that if you feel the urge to differentiate between your work and your life, then you are approaching your career in the wrong way. However, I do enjoy a nice Netflix binge at least once a week.
Is there an area of PT you’re particularly drawn to?
There are three main areas of focus for me. One is the implicit bias that we have towards age. The second is helping to understand and reduce the yellow flags in patients with persistent pain. The third is educating the public to prevent chronic diseases, musculoskeletal pain in particular, from occurring in the first place. I am not entirely sure where these interests will take me but I am excited for all the opportunities our profession has to offer, especially within the APTA and the Academy of Prevention and Health Promotion Therapies (APHPT).
Why did you decide to get involved with SSIG?
My first year of DPT school was wasted on misplaced priorities and tunnel vision. I believed that my only job was to study, pass my boards, graduate, and get a job. This mindset was exhausting and led to feelings of resentment towards my program and the profession. Being an active member of the APTA drastically changed that mindset. I felt that getting involved with the SSIG would give me an opportunity to showcase the many different ways students can get involved outside the classroom and help to change that mentality of you need to just “get through” PT school before your career starts.
Do you think mentorship is important in our field?
Because our profession is constantly evolving based off of the populations’ needs and published research, I think it is important to have personal connections with other professionals to help keep me up to date and bounce ideas off of. There are so many different facets of our profession that I think there should be more of a focus on having individuals that I can count on for a particular type of problem rather than having just one formal mentor. Everyone has their own biases, tendencies that they have, and preconceived notions on how things should be done. Although it is valuable advice, I think it can be dangerous to only have one person to turn to. As I attend more conferences and interact with professionals on social media, I am making an attempt to interact not only with those who have the career I am working towards, but also to connect with individuals that seem to be excelling in areas where I am weak at or in areas that I don’t have interest in. Because of the complexity of the biopsychosocial components for each patient, I do not want to get pigeon-holed into just one mindset or treatment model.
To summarize, I believe that it is essential in our profession to have relationships with colleagues to help with patient care, patient management, personal care, and/or business pursuits, however, I think that it is unnecessary and potentially dangerous to have just one mentor to listen to.
Are there any fellow students or “fresh PTs” that you know in person or through social media that inspire you and/or push you to be better?
There are a lot! One of my favorite parts about being a member of the APTA is the opportunity it has given me to connect with inspiring students and professionals. There are four SPTs that immediately came to mind when I read the question: Domenic Fraboni, Gillian McLean, Ariana Jones and Josh Karnowski. I met them all at APTA NEXT and the House of Delegates and I can honestly say they are all going to do amazing things within our profession. They are forward-thinking, charismatic, brilliant individuals that are passionate about our professional organization and the role students can play in impacting our profession. If you haven’t connected with them yet I strongly encourage you to! They will certainly challenge how you see the profession as well as yourself. They also make amazing conference buddies!
Do you have a motto or mantra in regards to our field?
I created my own personal mission statement after having listened to a presentation at APTA NEXT.
To live a principle-based, balanced life. To make conscious decisions based on my core values. To have an impact on as many lives as I can.
I read in a book once that introduced the idea that we can choose to live our lives one of two ways:
- We can let our feelings dictate our actions which define our character. Or
- We can define the type of person we want to be, base our actions off of our character and let our feelings follow.
In essence you are choosing between letting your feelings define you or letting your character define you. By going through the work of creating my personal mission statement, I have defined the type of person I would like to be. I make decisions based off of that mission statement to ensure that I am not reacting to situations but instead responding to them. Emotions are fickle and fleeting, I much rather live by my character.