It is always interesting to read physical therapist’s biographies on pamphlets or online.  Dr. Eric Jorde and I have spoken about this many times over the year. I just picked up one today while taking my wife for a baby check-up and continue to chuckle at the presentation and what is written.  In general, they are horrible!  I won’t name anyone in particular for the sake of the individual and practice, but google some practices in your area and you will get an idea of what I mean. Hell, you can go see mine for In Touch Therapy.  I, and my colleagues, are just as guilty!

I do think we are down playing our education, expertise and accolades through our overrun sentences, hobby-infested, everyone is interested in ‘orthopedic manual therapy to get patients better’ and I treat everything under the sun biographies.

To get my point across, let’s give an example.  The following is totally made up, but is a collection of what I see. Here is a comparison of a Doctor of Physical Therapy Practitioner typical biography vs a PT written as usual Medical Doctor’s biographies.

Physical Therapist:

John Smith graduated from Southwest University in 2005 with a doctorate of physical therapy degree.  He moved to the local area from Maine as he enjoys being closer to the ocean. He has since concentrated on orthopedic manual therapy to treat the “root-cause” of a patient’s problem by utilizing biomechanical assessments and helping people move better.  This led him to becoming board certified in orthopedics in 2008. John believes that patient education is the key to treatment and this is what leads to superior outcomes.  He has since taken many continuing education courses all over the nation to receive certifications in A-B-C. His clinical interests include neck pain, back pain, SIJ pain, knee pain, ankle pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, post-surgical pain, fall and balance prevention.  He enjoys being outside, surfing and running in spare time.

 

 

Medical Doctor:

Dr. Smith, a Maine native, is a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist in Physical Therapy.  He is one of the elite physical therapists in the area by having this subspecialty in the profession.  This certification is a testament to his tireless pursuit of excellence in the field of orthopaedics.  Dr. Smith joined Elite Physical Therapy in 2005 and has since risen the ranks to one of the most respected physical therapists in the region.  He believes non-surgical management of musculoskeletal conditions is key in returning you back to a healthy lifestyle.

EDUCATION:

Southwest University

Doctor of Physical Therapy. 2002-2005

INTERNSHIP

Atlas Physical Therapy. 2002-2003.

Spine and Sport Specialists. 2003-2004.

Post-Surgical Experts in Rehabilitation. 2004-2005.

RESIDENCY

Specialists in Manual Therapy. 2005.

FELLOWSHIP

Specialists in Manual Therapy. 2005.

BOARD CERTIFICATION

Orthopedics. 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS / MEMBERSHIPS

APTA: 2002-present.

AAOMPT:  2005-present

A-B-C Certification: 2009-present

RESEARCH / PRESENTATIONS

PT conference 2005

 

Now add an Iphone picture to the first example…then a professional picture in second example….

Okay, so you get the point.  For me, seeing the education and accolades in bullet form seems more professional, makes the practitioner look more qualified and experienced.  I am not saying we need to be like medical physicians by any means…but we definitely don’t need our online biographies to compare to personal trainers or massage therapists.  This is why we have all of this additional training and supposed to be musculoskeletal experts, right?

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10 comments

  1. Hey Harrison,

    Great post and I agree that we need to step it up. As a profession, we need to look more professional online.

    Keep up the great work,

    Eric

  2. Sometimes it’s also a battle against our company’s marketing department as well. I fought to have “spinal manipulation” added to my bio, but was replaced by “McKenzie, Dry needling, and manual therapy”… What differentiates McKenzie and DN from the overall definition of Manual Therapy?!
    On another note, I was asked to be put on a commercial at the last minute. Little did I know, it was to promote sports rehab, and I’d be acting out some things those types of PT’s may do. They had in mind a patient on a treadmill and foam roller. I brought up some manual skills to demonstrate. Aside from the manual, I think I’m portrayed more as a glorified personal trainer that gets to wear a vest and tie.

    Our brand (image) is weak on so many levels, and I think you’re doing a great job in exposing this truth. Having “Dr.” in front of our names means nothing if people don’t trust/understand the education behind it. How many of us have heard people say “for all that schooling, why didn’t you become a (“real”) doctor?.

  3. Hey BJ,

    Great comments. PT bios tell the public and other healthcare professionals a lot about us. A company’s website can tell you what they value. Many POPs will include a very professional bio for their physicians, but will only have a tab for Physical Therapy that usually does not include the names of the PTs. The PTs were of so little value to the physician practice that including names on the website or a bio did not occur to them. Some POPS or hospitals will include an outdated group picture with some of the PTs, but no information about them. Again, tells you that PT is not valued profession to them. I am not sure why PT is not valued by these organizations, but it could be that we have not presented ourselves in a way that seems demand the respect of a Doctor of PT. Our professional organization seems to think marketing PTs using theraballs, gait training or manual hamstring stretching is a good marketing message to the public and referral sources. Our more advanced treatment techniques are rarely marketed to the public. We need to step up our marketing and professionalism. Great job trying to step up the professionalism with your marketing department.

  4. What is the purpose of creating a professional profile for potential patients? When you are looking for a medical professional, what do you appreciate? Do you tend to read through all the information provided? I tend to believe consumers want to 1) know you can deliver and improve their specific situation and 2) have a connection with you. Then, once they “find” you online, guess what they do? They ask their neighbors, families and friends about you: do any of their connections know you? Would their connections recommend you. I’ve been a physical therapist for 20 years – that’d create a long bullet list of professional accomplishments. Very doubtful patients really care about the laundry list. Here’s how I present myself in Find a PT. My target audience is supposed to be someone in my local area. http://www.apta.org/apta/findapt/index.aspx?seqn=2271

    I killed my website and am in the process of redesigning it. My “staff bio” is original & hopefully connects with those in need of my services.

    1. Selena,
      Thanks for commenting and being already on the bandwagon (even branding tomorrow on #solvept) to improving out overall image. You and I know that you are not the target to this post as you are already ahead of the game.
      You make a good point in not writing all of your professional accomplishments, as it will be overwhelming! We have to pick and choose what is important to us, as well as what the public perceives. I am suggesting we find a balance between a professional profile, and still maintaining a personal connection with interests & other “real” person information.

      I haven’t practiced nearly the years that you have but definitely agree with the business of referring from word of mouth, connection within the community, etc. I practice in a town of 4,600 people and grew up 20 miles from here…I don’t need anything but a “PT” degree…no DPT, fellowship trained, etc. to keep doors open and stay busy. We haven’t marketed other than word of mouth from results in 12 yrs.

      However, I would say an interesting concept that arises from the area I work in. Most of my patients grew up here and have never left. However, there is also a 20,000 acre lake that attracts retirees and other individuals who lived up north and moved down south to retire. The big difference in the two = the latter checks out our website and comes into the clinic inquiring about professional designations. This doesn’t happen with the local crowd…maybe because they have a circle already established in the community and will do exactly as you mentioned above, “ask neighbors, families, friends”.

      Either way, I’m trying to promote a higher standard to our image and brand.

      Hopefully will make it to twitter talk Tuesday.

      Harrison

  5. Could not agree more! Our profession has lessons to learn when it comes to advertising our expertise and educating patients on the value of the profession. Professionalism is one area that I consistently see lacking in advertising of our profession. To be optimistic I believe the new generation of DPTs will continue to improve on this point but it needs to be discussed to properly address the problem.

    1. Right on Keith! I think the field is shooting like a star now too and will continue to improve in image and brand through specialists, research, and results.

  6. Hey Selena,

    Great comments about the professional profile. There are several reasons we should have more professional bios on our websites. I do not expect patients to find me or our practice due to our website bios. I agree that most patients find us through the recommendation of a friend, family member or referral of a physician. People recommend us to our patient because of our reputation for good outcomes and customer service. The patient will often go to our website bios to confirm what they have heard about us. This is our opportunity to demonstrate our expertise, how we can help their problem & represent ourselves as professionals. I agree that we should only list the most important accomplishments on our bios such as board certifications, clinical certifications or if you taught on the university level. It would be crazy to list every accomplishment if you have been practicing for quite some time.

    I have recommend physicians to many patients for conditions other than their primary reason for undergoing PT. Usually, I will go to their website and print off the MD bio for the patient. This way the patient can see that I am recommending a reputable physician. A poorly written or presented bio can lessen how the MD is perceived by the patient. Previous patients have brought my bio into the clinic that their MD printed off for them.

    Another reason for a well written website bio is for PT recruitment. I am moving to the Richmond area and have researched many PT practices in the area and have read most of their bios. Some of websites and bios create a very poor image of that practice. This has changed my job search in that area. The clinic’s website should be their best foot forward in public marketing and a poorly presented website & bio hurt them. It would be better to not have a website if you are not going to do it professionally.

    Have a great day.

    Interested in hearing your opinion,

    Eric

  7. Maybe it’s not just about downplaying our achievements as PTs but a misdirected way of showing approachability to potential clients. But I agree with what you’ve said to Selena about balance since not a lot of them read the laundry list.

    I think it’s more of seeing through the client’s eyes on how they can benefit in our services. Checking Selena’s profile, I definitely agree with her: less pain, get your life back with an idea on how she would work with them: explanations of her role and their roles were also included.

    Along the client benefit is the evidence why we’re fit for the job with a short list of our recent education and certifications.

    I’ve noticed it’s the same with every self-employed professional. You need to say first what they can get from you.

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