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Mind-Blowing Moments at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress

June 24, 2019 • Advocacy • Heidi Jannenga

It’s no secret that our capitalistic society has its flaws, and over the years, companies and corporations that have greedily put profit over people have sullied the waters, leading many people to posit that these “corporate” companies in general are only out for themselves. But that’s not necessarily the case. A for-profit company can be healthy, and do good in the world, when (and if) it balances a people-centric culture with the need to feed its bottom line. Ultimately, that is the crux of Conscious Capitalism.

For example, my company, WebPT, operates as a conscious business, and as such, we make it a point to be a source of good for our employees, our shareholders, our community, and the Members we serve daily. The impact of this really hit home for me after spending three days with PTs from around the globe at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, last month. What I learned is that our company’s purpose, to empower therapists to achieve greatness, resonates all over the world.

The future is definitely bright for our mission, and the physical therapy profession. Conferences like these are so validating for me; they serve as confirmation that our vision is on point, that we really are uplifting rehab therapists by empowering them with technology so they can empower their patients.

Across the globe, we’re struggling with imposter syndrome.

That said, we physical therapists still must overcome the doubt that we are worthy of this empowerment. As a general rule, we are always our own biggest obstacle. And apparently, imposter syndrome is running rampant among PTs the world over. Why is this the case? I have my theories:

  1. We’re a fairly new profession, and we’re still finding our way and establishing our brand with patients. In the US, we’ve only recently been able to see patients without a physician referral (√† la direct access), and physical therapists in many other countries still must rely fully on physicians.
  2. We’ve only recently started collecting, and using, empirical data (read: outcomes data and patient loyalty data) to help run our businesses and make patient care decisions. (If your practice hasn’t yet put data collection processes in place, I highly recommend you do so immediately.) We had a packed house for my collaborative presentation about big data with Andrew Walton from Connect Health in the UK; Karim Khan from UBC in Canada; and Rachael Lowe from Physiopedia in Switzerland.
  3. Unlike physicians, physical therapists don’t have globally standardized protocols, treatments, and education, so when someone says they’re a physiotherapist or a physical therapist, most people don’t have a solid idea of what that means (unless, of course, they’re part of the small percentage of people who have actually benefited from seeing a PT).

Still, most of us care, a lot.

At the end of my presentation at the Congress, someone asked me a really interesting question: “Why do you care so much about the profession?” I have to say that my initial response in my head was a bit snarky: “You’re a PT; why don’t you?” But instead, I said, “Great question. I am passionate because I have the opportunity to make an impact on not only my profession, but also more patients than I ever could have reached as a treating therapist, and after this conference, potentially the world.”

We went on to have a great conversation about how this PT from Zimbabwe could be more impactful with his patients and get more involved with his professional organization. His growing enthusiasm was inspiring to me, and the small group of other PTs who gathered to chat after my talk. I could see his self-discovery happening before my eyes as he came up with ideas to use his PT gifts and knowledge to maximize his impact.

Sometimes, when we get mired in the day-to-day, we forget to pick our heads up and really look at the progress and impact we’re making, no matter how big or small those gains are. I know this can be an issue for me from time to time. That’s why I enjoy getting feedback and responses on the blogs I write, whether or not they’re in agreement with the subject matter (the banter can sometimes be even more inspiring). Conferences and interactive speaking engagements keep that bigger picture and vision alive for me.

It all comes down to impact.

What helps you keep your big-picture vision alive? What inspires you? Take a moment, or several, to recognize the impact that you are having on others, whether that’s your patients, your staff, or your team. Consider why you do what you do, and who you do it for. It’s so important to your motivation, and your sense of accomplishment.

Physical therapists aren’t the only people who suffer from imposter syndrome. We all do; I’m not practicing anymore, and I certainly do. It’s a constant struggle to remind myself that I am enough, that I’m making a difference. But when I take a moment to review, and feel gratitude for, all that I’ve accomplished each year, each month, each week, each day, and even each hour, those negative thoughts just disappear. Being conscious in everything we do is the most productive, enlightening, and motivating way to work and live. As a profession, we must embrace balance as we continue to grow and never lose sight of who we serve and what we stand for.


It’s taken me a while to understand this, but we all wake up every day with another chance to be who we want to be and have the impact we want to have. And the only thing that will ever get in your way is you. So, who do you want to be today, what impact do you want to have on your patients, your practice, your family, your community, the profession, and the world?

Heidi Jannenga

Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, is the president and co-founder of WebPT, the leading practice management solution for physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Heidi leads WebPT’s product vision, company culture, and branding efforts, while advocating for the physical therapy profession on a national scale. She co-founded WebPT after recognizing the need for a more sophisticated...

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Juan Di Leo

Commented • June 27, 2019

Dear Heidi, Entrepreneur Rich de Vos described it very well when he wrote about "compassionate capitalism". And the point you make is very true regarding not reflecting on our social impact; the "problem" with achievers and professional leaders is that typically they are busy achieving, so they forget to left up their heads. We are a new profession, as you say, and we're dealing with the growing pains of fades, fashions and insecurities: we're growing though and new grads are more professional than we older therapist where at that time (far more professional). Another area where physical therapist lack education is business: so we're trained to be professionals but lack business management courses and/or think that making money implies not caring for our patients when is fact making a living of our profession is what makes us professionals. And on your third point: with clinical predictions rules we are moving into standardizing care to the best results: we're leveling up. Thanks for remind me! Sincerely, Juan

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