How to be Mentored

Working at Body Gears Physical Therapy, we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to receive frequent mentorship from our senior therapists. Mentorship is so valuable, especially for a new grad or physical therapist that is new to the ideas of the Institute of Physical Art, but sometimes it can become overwhelming and difficult to process all of the wonderful information you are being taught.

In order to effectively take a mentor’s instruction and use it to better your patient outcomes, you have got to be ready to accept and digest the information efficiently. Here are a few tips to help you do so:

  1. Be organized. This goes for being organized with the materials you and your mentor will reference (i.e. IPA course binders, other continuing education courses, etc) so that you can feel a little more organized in your head when you are trying to catch all the great PT goodies you are being given. Being able to quickly reference what your mentor is teaching you about helps as you learn it kinesthetically, as well as read it in the manual. Put your own tabs in your manuals for each section and have all manuals or anatomy books handy. It takes a few more seconds to bring out this material, but it makes such a difference being able to know where the information your mentor is dishing out is coming from.
  2. Slow them down and ask questions. Our senior therapists know a lot; more than they probably even realize they know. So be sure to slow them down if you are not following at their pace or do not understand something they said or demonstrated. It is ok to say “No, I didn’t see that” or “No, I don’t understand that” because usually it just takes 1 or 2 more sentences of explanation to get you back on their track and receiving feasible mentorship.
  3. Put your hands on it! (As long as you have received consent from the patient). Physical therapy is a beautiful mixture of art and science, so it is equally important to train your hands to feel, as it is to be able to reference or use a scientifically researched technique. If you do not feel what is going on in the first place, you cannot decide which technique to use. So put your hands on the patient, or on top of your mentor’s hands and feel the restrictions they are feeling. Their hands are like gold, steal a little from them! 😉
  4. Gather yourself. If you have time after receiving a bout of mentorship with a patient or even just after a Q&A session during lunch, take some time afterward (or during) to jot down the highlights and run through what just happened again in your head. Often, these mentorship opportunities fly by and kind of feel like you have been hit by the Super PT Train, so take some time to recover and gather all the info that just ran over you so you can hold on to it; it is good stuff!

Receiving mentorship is a blessing and sometimes it is a whirlwind of a blessing. Utilize these tips to help keep you focused and able to reproduce the assessment and treatment strategies, palpation skills, and trains of thought implemented by your mentor to better your own patient outcomes.