5 Tips on How to Make the Most out of taking a Live Continuing Education Course as a PT

How to Make the Most of taking a Continuing Education Course as a PT   3/5/17

Continuing education is an important method of furthering clinical knowledge and skills that is required to progress the profession of PTs as we need to stay up to date with current evidence to provide the best care for our patients. It is also important that we as  PTs  embrace an eclectic method of patient management as our patients all need different things varying from manual therapy (mobilizations, manipulations, soft tissue mobilization, etc..) , functional movement exercise and loading, therapeutic neuroscience education , and  many others to best serve them. Many states also have specific CEU requirements for PTs. Currently, I have been to 7 live continuing education courses with a handful of online courses and I have learned so much from these courses. My first live course was a lumbopelvic manipulation course and I did all the wrong things after I took the course and as a result I didn’t get much benefit from it (which was all my fault). I have learned some good tips from instructors and from personal experience on how to make the most of taking a CEU course as a PT. Here are my top5tips on how to make the most of taking a live CEU class.

  1. Realize that Failure is Normal and Practice, Practice, Practice!

The first time that we do anything new there is a high likelihood that we will not be very good at it… THIS IS NORMAL!! As a student I really struggled with performing spinal manipulations and I had very low success of manipulation as a student. I realized the power and benefit of having manipulation in my PT toolbox and I decided to go to classes to get better. After going through some great manipulation courses from Jeff Moore and Justin Dunaway, I felt like I was able to get the setup for most of the manipulations, but I couldn’t get the thrust down while at the course. I realized that I’d never (or very rarely) get free time to practice on a colleague so when it was appropriate for a patient: I WENT FOR IT…AND FAILED A LOT, BUT I KEPT AT IT! If I did the technique and it wasn’t successful, I went through a lot of self-reflection and reviewed my videos and notes and adjusted and KEPT GETTING AFTER IT TIL I GOT IT! 2 techniques that I really struggled with was the upper cervical and CT Junction Manipulations and it honestly took me 2 months after the course before I successfully got them down and now they’re much easier to do and I am having a much higher success rate.  A word of caution: If one does not adapt or implement the techniques, then you’ll never develop them. A final note on this point: Don’t let the thoughts/beliefs of other therapists in your clinic dictate how you treat/what new stuff you implement as you’ll never grow to your potential.

2. Do an In-service on it

If you know the content and skill, teach it!For me it was better for me to progress and work on my skill refinement  on my own first and learn tips from my mistakes as I feel that I was able to offer much more insight to the group when I gave my presentation. Some companies require an in-service if the employer paid for the course.

3. Make References for Easy Review

Many classes that I have been to provide a manual of content and techniques/indications and I recommend making a file folder or notebook of all your content. I’d even bring it out in  the clinic with me right after a class so I could very briefly review it before doing the technique. Taking a video and writing detailed notes has been very helpful for me as I feel that I learn something new/have a deeper understanding each time I re-watch the videos/read my notes.

4. Don’t abandon a new technique so soon!

A common saying that I hear from numerous PTs includes “That technique doesn’t work” which I personally think requires an open mind and further self-reflection first.  I strongly urge you to make sure that you make sure that you have the right patient indication for the technique (right area and right amount of vigor), good verbal priming of the technique you’re going to do, and correct implementation of the technique to the appropriate level of the patient as an error to any of these components can result in an unsuccessful response. It’s true that different techniques have their own set of pros and cons and I think as long as a PT says that they don’t do a certain technique anymore because this one is more effective that’s cool as I have been there.
5. Feel Free to make modifications as needed for your patient when the time is right!

I recommend that one does the technique as taught at the course frequently first until you really get the technique down, but then I think that then you can modify the technique as needed for a particular patient to have more success.

Hope these help,



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