Michael House, PT, DSc, OCS, FAAOMPT graduated from Ithaca College in 1997 with his Master's degree. He completed his Doctor of Science of Physical Therapy in 2010 from Andrews University, and in the process also passed his OCS in 2008. In 2014, Dr. House completed his fellowship with NAIOMT under the guidance and mentorship of Ann Porter Hoke and Phil Plante. Michael works at Back To Motion in Denver, CO.
What drew you to PT as a career? When and how did you start your journey?
I was fortunate to know two physical therapists while I was in high school who were my youth group leaders, both generous, caring people, one especially took the time to tell me of the profession, what he liked about it and the challenges too. It was in high school that I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist.
Where did you go to school and why?
I earned my Master's degree in physical therapy at Ithaca College, because they accepted you as a PT student as a Freshman and the program blended from undergraduate to Master's continuously and therefore I did not need to re-apply for the graduate degree. I went back to school to earn my DSc after being exposed to the wealth of knowledge NAIOMT had to offer and its integration into the doctoral program at Andrews University.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first physical therapy job was at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. I learned to think on my feet, adapt quickly, problem solve to help get patients out of the hospital to rehab or home depending on patient preference.
Where did you take your first NAIOMT courses and what was your first impression?
I took my first NAIOMT course with Erl Pettman at Andrews University. I had been working for six years and I was surprised that I had allowed myself to forget so much important information, because I simply wasn't using thorough clinical reasoning to help my patients.
How did you hear about the NAIOMT Fellowship Program?
I originally learned of the NAIOMT fellowship program through my own research as I knew I wanted to create a framework to be the best PT I could be to help the people I serve.
Was fitting the fellowship into your lifestyle challenging?
Doing a fellowship should be challenging to allow for the growth. I am fortunate to have a supportive spouse who afforded my the time to study, practice, write, and network with colleagues, throughout the process.
What did you enjoy most about the Fellowship program?
I appreciated honing my manual skills and connecting with others who valued the fellowship process to further our profession and better care for others.
Who was/is your mentor? Tell us about several if you have them!
I feel fortunate that many people have shaped my career. It was Dave McCune who introduced me to PT. His colleagues, Tim Ainsle and Mark Murphy, introduced me to NAIOMT. Erl Pettman inspired me through most of the courses he taught. Kathy Berglund encouraged me to go through the DSc. Phil Plante was my fellowship instructor who tightened my skills and fostered me to work more efficiently. Kathy Stupansky and Stacy Soapmann have always been positive and encouraging. Ever since I helped Ann Porter Hoke with her course and she laid her hands on me I have striven to have her adept, gentle touch.
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I have always been so fortunate that people have offered their time and wisdom to help me be a better person and I desperately want to be the same for others.
What’s unique about you as a teacher?
I don't know what makes me unique as a teacher, because many of the words I use to describe myself as a teacher, others may possess too. I am patient. I seek for you to be able to justify your reason logically, not necessarily how I see the situation. I am positive. I don't expect perfection, just its pursuit with balance.
What's your most strongly held belief about how PT should be provided?
In the clinic you should lay your hands on the person you are serving. Outside the clinic, the PTs mind can be applied in many roles in the community.
What's your mantra when it comes to treating?
The person in front of me is mostly good, who deserves good care, and I can give that person the care they need.
What do you believe is the biggest problem facing PT today?
Many PTs are unwilling to personally invest in their profession beyond their student debt, so they are not as collegial as they could be, the do not advocate for the profession enough, and are not willing to fully embrace their professional autonomy.
What challenges did COVID present to you professionally? How did you adapt/what did you learn from it?
Even though it could have been an opportune time to grow professionally through independent education, I squandered the time as the COVID cloud loomed over head as I constantly wondered when would this end. I can now see there is an end in sight and I am involving myself more again in the profession.
What changes would you like to see the PT profession make? What's lacking?
Superficially, I would like to see us be paid more for our knowledge and skill. We lack collegiality, we need to stop seeing each other as competitors and work together more among clinics to help with reimbursement, community awareness, our own well-being.
What are your career goals for the next 5-10 years?
I would like to grow the PT practice I purchased a year and a half ago. I would like to be considered NAIOMT faculty, I would like to teach and mentor anyone who may value my perspective.
What advice would you give to new PT graduates?
Continually learn how to improve the lives of the people we serve, be willing to invest your own money in that endeavor, reach out to others to work collaboratively and through that collaboration you will become a better PT.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Both my daughter and son are in Scouts which I value and enjoy participating with them. I enjoy fly-fishing, hiking, camping, good food and drink with my wife.
How do you combine these interests with your PT profession?
The zest I have for my life and my family I bring to my profession. I use the past-times to balance my profession, by getting away from my vocation.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the PT profession (dead or alive) who would it be?
David Lamb. He seems to have influenced so many of the sages I respect in the profession.
What's something your fellow faculty members might not know about you?
I am more opinionated than I let on.
Favorite movie? Why?
Magnolia, multiple plot lines the intertwine, somewhat odd, excellent cast and acting.
Favorite book? Why?
Jitterbug Perfume - fun bombastic language with intricate metaphors, spiritual, colorful characters whose stories intersect.
Which historical figure has been most influential in your life? Why?
Excluding spiritual foundation, Theodore Roosevelt. He founded the National Parks, he appreciated adventure. He understood the importance of physical fitness. He did not lead us into any wars.
Favorite vacation spot? Why?
Ithaca - it's home.
What TV or movie character would you love to treat and why?
Dr. Gregory House, MD because he is cantankerous, he is dealing with persistent pain. He used his cane in the wrong hand, it would be a challenge to help him and win him over to our profession and he would appreciate the logical reasoning NAIOMT instills.
You are one of the mentors in NAIOMT's Post-Course Office Hours online mentoring program. Can you tell us what participants can expect from these mentoring sessions?
I look forward to the Office Hours sessions! It's a wonderful opportunity to share cases, connect with other PTs who are looking at patients similarly, as you synthesize the material presented to you in your classes by excellent clinicians. Maybe you have a case that because of NAIOMT you rocked and you want to share the story and outcome. Maybe you have a case with which you are struggling and think what you learned should apply, but it just not gelling. Or maybe its a question on options to help a person you've been mulling over and you want the collective feedback. Whatever it may be, I want to help guide you and the group so we can all learn and connect.
Post-Course Office Hours
If you ask any of our faculty how they went from good clinicians to great clinicians you will often hear them refer to their mentor. That person who believed in them and took the time to answer their questions. We know that many of you are still looking for that mentor and we would like to help!
Join Michael House in NAIOMT's online mentorship program Post-Course Office Hours.