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Meaningful Mentors: Meet NAIOMT's Bret Swigard

Posted by NAIOMT on Sep 21, 2019 9:32:15 AM

NAIOMT's Clinical Fellowship Instructor Bret Swigard is the owner of Innova Physical Therapy in Redmond, WA.  Bret became a NAIOMT Certified Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapist in 2010 and completed the APTA Advanced Clinical Instructor Program in 2011. He graduated from the NAIOMT Fellowship Program in 2011 and was granted Fellowship status by the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists in 2012.

 

What drew you to PT as a career? When and how did you start your journey?

I was 17 years old, a senior in high school, and I felt invincible. Everything seemed possible, and I wanted to make money. Then my world turned upside-down. My best friend suddenly and tragically passed away, and I was forced to evaluate what really matters in life. That experience made it very clear that my purpose was to help people, improve lives and make a difference.

After shadowing a PCP, I was very turned off on medicine. The MD was stressed and running from room to room, and did not look he enjoyed what he was doing. The chiropractor I shadowed did the same exact treatment to every patient he saw. It looked boring and a bit misleading after all the diagnostics and evaluation. It was not an individualized treatment approach. Then I spent time in a rehab hospital and the PTs were incredible. They made huge positive impacts in their patients’ lives and seemed to love what they were doing. So I focused on getting into PT school.

 

Where did you go to school and why?

Eastern Washington University for both my BS and MPT. My grandmother played a big part in my upbringing. She was very sick and lived in Spokane. I only applied to EWU so I could support her and be with her in her final days.

 

My supervisor was a PT and we became great friends. Eventually she became my wife and the mother of my children.

 

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was at PacMed HMO ortho outpatient. My supervisor was a PT and we became great friends. Eventually she became my wife and the mother of my children. I learned that one job can certainly lead to many many others.

 

Why did you leave your first PT job?

I was looking for a mentor who could take my career to its next place.

 

What got you hooked on NAIOMT?

NAIOMT's reputation of high expectations implied it was one of the highest level certifications on the market. I had a strong drive to improve so that I could be more effective at helping others.

 

How did you hear about the fellowship program?

In school. I always intended to do fellowship after graduation but the question was when. After four certifications, I decided to move to fellowship for the 1:1 mentorship.

 

Was fitting the fellowship into your lifestyle challenging?

Not at that time. I was young and hungry and had a supportive wife who knew that I was happy when challenged.

 

Who was/is your mentor? Tell us about several if you have them!

My first was Dr. Bruce Rolfe MD, ortho surgeon, foot/ ankle specialist. After leaving my first job, I looked for a PT mentor and could not find anyone who would take me on. Bruce took me on and said, I can't teach you PT but I can teach you a lot. I am forever thankful for his mentorship. I learned a ton about LE function, surgery, pathology, trauma, diagnostics, etc.

My second mentor was Steve Allen. He has a gentle and supportive way of leading people to better place. He inspired me and motivated me to be my best and enjoy the journey. Through fellowship, Bill Temes and Ann Porter Hoke were also my mentors. Their mentorship was the primary reason I entered the fellowship in the first place. I had little interest in publishing, researching or more accolades.

 

To share my passion. To help others in their journey. To improve my own skills. To improve my team.

 

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

To share my passion. To help others in their journey. To improve my own skills. To improve my team.

 

What’s unique about you as a teacher?

I have a deep passion and depth of OMT training and experience. I integrate the best of all of my training in my teaching and love to share stories/experiences.

 

What's your most strongly held belief about how PT should be provided?

PT should be provided with integrity, compassion and focus. We should truly understand the patient and help them get to their next place in life.

 

Why do you believe in the NAIOMT system?

The eclectic approach. Learn from the best (all the prior masters), integrate it and discard the rest. The senior faculty original vision.

 

What's your mantra when it comes to treating?

Focus to find the barrier to optimal movement, use OMT to release it, then train a better movement pattern across tasks of life and sport.

 

Helping a professional baseball pitcher get back to the majors after a likely career ending injury. Helping a patient with chronic daily headaches abolish them ...

 

Give an example of a time when you know you made a difference with a patient.

There are so many because this is what we do on a daily basis.  A few examples… Helping a professional baseball pitcher get back to the majors after a likely career ending injury. Helping a patient with chronic daily headaches abolish them and stop her dependence on chiro. Improving a pre-professional ballet dancer pointe and foot pain to become a soloist at a major company. Abolishing chronic posterior pelvic pain in a patient who was debilitated. Ending a patient's TOS before she got to her planned surgery. And many more....

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Race cars, mostly autocross racing. Build and modify cars. Spend time with wife and two daughters. Home renovation and building.

 

Favorite vacation spot? Why?

Twin Lakes Washington. No cell service, no internet, nice cabins, back to nature.

 

Favorite Sports Team?

Seahawks.

 

Sports team you love to hate?

Patriots.  My wife is from Boston and the rivalry is good fun.

 

Finally, what TV or movie character would you love to treat and why?

Obi-wan Kenobi. I would like to learn the ways of the force and don't know much about Yoda's anatomy.

 

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