Featured Fellow: Mary Derrick, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Dr. Mary Derrick is a Senior Physical Therapist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California where she practices in the out-patient department as well as the multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Management Program. She loves the variability that these two populations bring to her practice.

Mary graduated with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2013 from Texas State University. She then practiced in the private practice settings prior to starting at Kaiser Permanente in January. She completed my Fellowship training with EIM in November where I greatly enjoyed and continue to enjoy teaching manual therapy with a niche for teaching manual therapy for the “size-disadvantaged physical therapist”

Mary grew up in Austin, Texas, her history has exposed me to activities ranging from barrel racing (horseback riding), to running and dance. She continue to enjoy recreational running, practicing Krav Maga, hiking with my dog and perpetually exploring the bay area!

What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?

Passion and my Patients.

When I began PT school I had the notion that while Physical Therapy was a profession it was ultimately a job; a 9-5… see patients and go home. As I got further into PT school I took notice of the faculty who set a high example of professional development and engagement. Our orthopedic faculty were all FAAOMPTs, many other faculty had their PCS, NCS, etc, pursuing their PhDs and were regularly giving back to the profession through their involvement.
Most notably, the late Dr Barbara Melzer, always stressed the importance of perpetual learning and to “Never regress to the mean”.
It was during this time that I realized it was up to me to cultivate my future from just a 9-5 to an ever expanding passion. So, I surrounded myself with highly motivated and engaged mentors, and kept asking “ok, what’s next”.
Then, I got into clinical life and realized that while I had gathered vast amounts of knowledge in PT school, my patients didn’t read the same books and thus didn’t present like clean little packages of presentations. I provided the interventions that I thought were best, but at the end of the day I found myself frustrated and feeling like I could have done better or that I missed something and I needed to be better to help get my patients better faster. Therefore I began looking for programs to help me with my clinical decision making, mentoring from high level practitioners that practiced at a level and efficiency that I wanted to achieve.

What fellowship program did you attend and why?

I participated in the Evidence in Motion fellowship program. The flipped classroom model in which you watch recorded lectures and utilize class time for discussion was a model that I was familiar with. I also liked the flexibility to be able to be in the program without having to relocate to a geographical hub. From the curriculum the components that I valued as well was the addition of a pain science course. It also requires graduates to obtain their OCS before graduation which which then ensures the ability to mentor residents and continue to enhance the profession through training others at various levels of professional development.

What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?

The Evidence in Motion fellowship requires the completion of classes in management of body regions. A unique element is that you complete these courses twice, once as a learner and again as a teachers assistant. This second pass of the content and the requirement to synthesize the information and be able to help others understand and incorporate the material helps understand the information to a more comprehensive level. With each of these management courses there is also a weekend intensive to learn and practice the hands-on manual skills. Fellows in Training also take these as content and teaching assistant. This highlights another unique aspect of this fellowship which is the exposure to teaching. There is also pain science, which I mentioned previously, writing case studies, among others.
Additionally, there are two 16-week courses that allow the learning and feedback from faculty and your peers on you own patient interactions (OMPT and Fellow Virtual Rounds) these two courses while nerve wracking are where a large portion of the growth and practice-changing learning occurs. This is because you are learning from direct feedback on your patients in your setting.

Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (i.e. Maitland, McKenzie, etc…), if so, why did you choose that area?

Evidence in motion is predominantly a Maitland based program though with the diversity of the faculty you learn elements from various models along the way which allows you to not see all patients as a nail when you are a hammer.

What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?

Residency and fellowship training is the best way to surround yourself with inspired, motivated individuals which rubs off and helps you continue to strive to better yourself. The network I have developed through this process is one that I wouldn’t change for anything.
Second… fellowship is no stroll through the park. I have yet to meet anyone who at some point of the journey hasn’t thought “what have I gotten myself into”. It takes perseverance, determination, grit and a LOT of working evenings and weekends. Vacations consist of checking the discussion forums at some point. Keep in mind the doors that open and the growth that will result.
You can’t learn if you are in your comfort zone.
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