II. Why should I want a mentor?
Have you ever heard the idiom: we must learn to walk before we can run? Mentorship is all about taking your first steps: your first steps in running a program, whether it be vestibular rehabilitation or sports medicine coverage; taking your first steps in running a clinic, which involves learning how to market yourself and your offerings, figuring out the paperwork, putting the patient first, and being a leader; and finally, taking your first steps in managing an entire area of clinics, a job that certainly demands decisiveness and know-how.
After seven years of training and education, you may think you’re ready to dive headfirst into the physical therapy profession—but, the truth is, the learning process isn’t finished. Not even close. To be a successful PT, a desire for continued learning is imperative, and education definitely doesn’t cease upon leaving the classroom. Hands-on experience makes for a better clinician– which is the goal. As a recent graduate, you may be buffed up on the literature but lacking in the execution and implementation of what you learned in school. Mentorship combines literature and practice to craft the ultimate clinician, and if you’re the ultimate clinician, then your chances of being more attractive to employers, career advancement, and greater income potential are exponentially better.
A mentor can guide you through all the obstacles of the profession while equipping you with the tactfulness to achieve success. How? Because your mentor was, at one point, in the same position you’re in: trying to make the seamless transition from recent graduate to skilled professional.
Mentorship Spotlight: Luis Hernandez, PT, DPT, OCS
Luis Hernandez serves as the Clinic Director of Rehab Services at Emory-Adventist Hospital. He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia and his Bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University. Luis completed an 18-month post-graduate mentoring program with a strong emphasis on manual therapy treatment of the cervical and lumbar spine in 2011 and the orthopedic physical therapy residency program through PT-Solutions in 2013.
Why did you choose mentorship in addition to residency?
There’s really no pressure in mentorship. Mentorship provided me with a structured approach on how to treat patients outside of a classroom setting. I also liked that I was amongst my peers and people who I would continue to work with after mentorship ended.
Who was your mentor?
I was mentored by a combined effort of Matt Eastwood, PT, DPT, OCS, and PT Solutions CEO, Dale Yake, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC. Over the course of a year, we worked in the clinics together and met every Tuesday evening for several hours. During that time, my mentors really focused on physical therapy techniques being put into practice, like manual therapy.
What did you learn?
I feel like I learned more about the application of knowledge—more so than I ever did in a classroom. Schools of thought taught in class are demonstrated and implemented in a clinical setting during the mentorship process, making the approach no longer a “school of thought,” but really a way to treat patients. I was—essentially—given a toolbox to learn from by my mentors. I was taught practical application of physical therapy techniques to approach from an analytical basis.
Do you feel like undergoing mentorship gave you an edge in the physical therapy profession?
Yes, definitely. Within the first month, I was provided with a basic approach and understanding of how to treat various injuries. I worked with the same patients, and the compensation was good.
Why should recent graduates want to be mentored?
The easiest way I can describe it is that you don’t feel like the blind leading the blind. Instead of delving into the profession without any instruction, I was given direction through mentorship. With mentorship, I was really able to hone my skills and put them to work without any pressure.