Newly-graduated Physiotherapists often wonder how they can advance their skills.

Are APTA/APA physiotherapy courses the best way to go?

Should I do one of the APTA/APA physiotherapy courses?

Should I sign up for online webinars and presentations?

Or should I just put my head down and focus on getting some experience?

Obviously the goal is twofold – increase your understanding and expertise while at the same time improving your earning potential as a Physiotherapist.

APTA/APA physiotherapy courses

Looking at where you’re at in your physiotherapy career, professional associations such as the American APTA or Australia’s APA physiotherapy courses offer a extension of the content you’ve learnt at university.

You can find a list of APTA courses here, and APA physiotherapy courses here.

The biggest issue we tend see here is that a decent portion of the content doesn’t make sense until you’ve seen similar cases in the clinic.

This is because the brain needs to relate this new information to an existing mental paradigm/framework.

Once you’re done with uni and written exams, just memorising volumes of information doesn’t get you anywhere!

Online webinars and courses

Looking at online webinars and online courses, these fall in to a similar category to the APTA and APA physiotherapy courses.

You need clinical experience in that particular area before the new information can assist your clinical practice.

This online material can essentially help alter or slightly change your clinical approach but it can’t help you develop a clinical approach from scratch.

Clinical experience (aka. just keep working…)

Then there’s the option of gaining clinical experience alone.

It’s been said that you’ll learn more in your first few months of clinical practice than you learn in 4 years of university.

While that’s true, the type of experiences you have significantly impacts on your early career progression.

It’s affected by the type of patients you see and the type of mentoring or case discussions you have available.

You’ll need a more experienced physiotherapist to help make sense of tricky or unexplained cases.

Seeing it and understanding it are two very different things! But they need each other to work.

You can’t gain clinical experience by having it explained to you, just like seeing it doesn’t automatically make it understandable.

If you’re lucky enough to have an experienced mentor at your practice, set aside some time each week to discuss cases and development.

Remember, if you don’t allocate time in your schedule, you tend to miss out on mentoring when you get busier (which is when you need it most!)

Summary

In reality, every Physiotherapist learns differently and can benefit from a variety of learning methods.

Ensure that you bias your learning towards the stage of your career and map it out to avoid getting lost chasing the certificates.

Your career satisfaction and career goals depends on it!


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