Many of us get caught up with completing smaller, daily tasks like attending to our patients and staying on top of paperwork. And, while these are important, they aren’t necessarily helping us get to that next level in our physiotherapy careers. 

 What about our bigger goals? Like learning new clinical techniques, developing our leadership skills or growing our practices? These are the goals that so often get pushed aside because we simply don’t feel that we have the time to focus on them. We can get caught up in the day-to-day care of our patients. But, if you want to grow, prioritizing your personal development is a must!

What is Personal Development?

Personal development is investing in one’s own growth as a physiotherapist. And, that can be in any area: 

  • Do you want to add another modality to your repertoire? 
  • Do you want to perfect a technique you are already using? 
  • Would you like to pass on your knowledge to other physiotherapists by teaching a course or becoming a mentor? 

If you choose to embark on a personal development journey, it simply means that you’ve identified areas of your physiotherapy career that could be improved on. Keep in mind that personal development isn’t only for people that are unhappy in their physiotherapy careers. It’s for anyone interested in evolving and developing new skills as well as their inner confidence as a physiotherapist. 

It’s about aspiring to do more and to be a better physiotherapist.

Getting Started with Personal Development

Be open-minded

It is very difficult to grow when you’re closed off to the idea of change in your physiotherapy practice. So, the first thing that you need to do is adopt a growth mindset - one that is open to change (check out our podcast about developing a growth mindset [LINK].Many people go through their careers as physiotherapists believing that their natural abilities and traits are fixed. But, that’s simply not true. As long as you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can develop any skill you like. 

This could include adding a new modality such as acupuncture to your repertoire. You could obtain additional training in order to work with a specific population, such as women or seniors. You could learn how to work with a new type of pathology, such as vestibular or pelvic health.

Identify areas of improvement

You must take an honest look at your career and decide what you need to work on. Think about some of the areas of your practice that could use improvement and give yourself a rating on a scale from 1 to 10. To start, focus on improving the 3 areas in which you scored the lowest. Check out Physiotherapy Alberta’s Career Compass resource to explore non-traditional career options for physiotherapists [LINK].

Set goals

Create a plan based on how you will improve in your lowest scoring areas. For example, let’s say you scored low on “keeping up with current research”. You could set yourself a goal of reading 3 scientific journal articles per month. This goal is more likely to work because it is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and has a timeline attached to it). 

The reason we struggle so much with our biggest goals is just that - they’re too big. Breaking them down into smaller chunks makes them manageable.

Make a plan and stick to it 

Now that you’ve identified the areas you’d like to work on in your physiotherapy practice and have set some goals, it’s time for proper planning. If you don’t schedule the time to achieve these goals, they’re likely to get pushed aside. Think about what tools and resources you’ll need to complete these goals. Determine how much time you’ll need to devote on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, then block it off in your calendar as you would for any other appointment. 

 For example, if there is additional training you’d like to take, set aside some time to research upcoming courses and find one that will work with your schedule. Once you’ve done this, mark it down in your calendar, blocking off the days and times that you’ll need to work on this training. Once it’s been written down, it’s much more likely to actually happen.

Identify challenges

You will also want to think about what could possibly prevent you from achieving your clinical goals and come up with a plan to overcome these potential challenges. If your goal is to grow your client or patient base by ten new patients next quarter, but you don’t have the marketing resources or knowledge to do so, how will you get there? You’ll need to set aside the time to hire help, learn from another physiotherapist, or take an online course.

Be consistent

Consistency is key. This is one of the most important factors in your personal development journey, because you will not see results unless you are consistent. You will absolutely have to put the work in if you want to improve yourself and grow your physiotherapy career in any real way. Reading a couple of scientific journal articles one time won’t turn you into someone that keeps up with current research, but regularly reading 3 articles every month certainly will. 

Hold yourself accountable

Beyond ticking off you weekly or daily goals, it’s important to measure your progress on a larger scale. Set monthly and quarterly goals for yourself and check in regularly to make sure you’re still on track, adjusting your goals when needed. Acknowledging your progress on a larger scale like that goes a long way to encourage you to keep going. For example, if your goal is to acquire 15 new patients by next quarter, you’ll also want to have smaller, monthly milestones to achieve. Break it down so that at the end of each month, you’re checking in to see if you’re on track to reach your target. If you see that you’re ahead or behind in reaching your quarterly goal, you can make changes. Your goals can be adjusted as needed, and don’t need to be set in stone.

Another way to hold yourself accountable is to find another physiotherapist working towards similar goals and start checking in with each other. An accountability partner can help motivate you when you’re not feeling inspired and vice versa.

Why It’s Worth It

Don’t worry if  you’ve made a mistake or had a setback - growth doesn’t happen overnight, it takes consistent effort and hard work.But, working on yourself is one of the greatest investments you can make in your physiotherapy career. Personal development will help to improve your confidence, increase your happiness, and promote changes in your physiotherapy career and life.