Fellowship Corner: BenchMark Rehab Institute

Pictured: Fellows-in-Training, Josh Subialka, Meredith Cabe, and Tyler Miller

What makes your Fellowship program unique compared to other programs?

All programs certainly share some commonalities and unique features. All programs certainly strive to develop clinical mastery in their fellows via a variety of means, but a few of the things that separate our program from many out there are the emphases on education, leadership, and scholarship. As part of their curriculum, our fellows-in-training receive a lot of training, experience, and feedback in teaching/education. We’re training up the “best of the best” clinicians, and we firmly believe that we then need to equip those clinicians to be effective educators so that they can “pay it forward” to the next generation. Our fellows complete multiple assignments that include both content development and teaching experience in both live on-site and online formats using a variety of innovative technologies. Along those same lines, fellows need to be prepared to not only teach – but to lead. As such, toward the end of the curriculum our fellows go through a 12-week course entitled Clinical Leadership. This course is led by Dr. David Myers, who is an expert speaker and mentor in the topics of leadership and personal development. Fellow-level practitioners need to be experts, they need to be able to share their expertise, and they need to be able to influence others in order to lead those around them and move the profession forward. In addition, however, they need to be excellent consumers of – and for some, contributors to – the evidence. Scholarship is a big emphasis of the program as well, and we put forth opportunities for fellows to engage in real research experience through collaboration on studies and projects with our academic faculty.

What would you consider the strengths of your program to be?

Much of this was covered above in the discussion on what makes us unique. In addition, however, I would say that some of the particular strengths include our emphasis on clinical reasoning, our eclectic and integrative approach, and our faculty. Our emphasis is not on teaching fellows what to think or do, but rather how to be effective thinkers and arrive and the best solution for a given patient at a given time. It goes back to the old saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. We are not dogmatic and married to a particular intervention or unidimensional way of thinking. Rather, clinicians are taught how to be expert critical thinkers and clinical reasoners that account for a multitude of variables in order to effectively integrate multiple treatment options, multiple viewpoints, the existing body of evidence, and both classic manual therapy paradigms and a modern understanding of pain science. Central to all of this is metacognitive introspection and intellectual honesty. Fellows are taught to think about how they think and arrive at various conclusions, and then they’re taught a systematic method for holding themselves accountable and proving/disproving their hypotheses. There are no assumptions. It is this very essence that allows for such an integrative and eclectic approach. Lastly, our faculty team is one of the best out there. Our team consists of multiple FAAOMPTs who are also board certified in orthopaedics, two PhD-trained faculty, several published authors, multiple individuals who have appointments in university settings, and several faculty who have completed advanced post-fellowship training in pain science. All bring a lot of clinical patient experience to the table also, and our team comes from a variety of clinical backgrounds. I could not be more proud of the faculty team we have assembled.

What makes focused learning within a Fellowship worth pursuing?

Historically, we’ve been a very skill-driven and knowledge-based profession. However, many clinicians struggle in how to practically integrate and apply all of that knowledge and all of those skills. Many clinicians have stories similar to mine which involved being a very driven young professional who wanted to soak up as much as I could early in my career and subsequently sought out as many continuing education opportunities as I could. Each course gave me various promises of their way being “the answer”. But alas, I – like many others before me – was left somewhat discouraged when I got back to the clinic and found this not to be the case. These new concepts and skills would do wonders for some, but certainly not all – or even the majority. This all changed after fellowship training. The focused learning process involved in fellowship helps clinicians to develop a practical reasoning framework from which they can learn to better direct knowledge and skills picked up along the way. Continuing education courses are so much more enjoyable and meaningful now after completing fellowship – because I now have the reasoning ability and framework to appropriately decide when, how, and with whom to most effectively utilize newly acquired concepts or techniques.

What advice would you give to students that are seriously interested in pursuing Fellowship training?

If you really want to take your practice to the next level, if you want to really up your game in pouring into patients and the next generations of clinicians, and if you really want to make a lasting impact on your profession and those it serves, then fellowship training is an outstanding path to take. It really helps to lay the foundation to transform you into the best clinician, best communicator, best coach, best educator, best advocate, and best leader that you can be. Fellowship training is a game-changer, and it did wonders in terms of layering on skill, direction, and focus to my career. It was a tough journey, but if I had to choose I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

What additional opportunities do your Fellows pursue after completing their training?

Following graduation, fellows tend to pursue a variety of roles – all of them very impactful in terms of moving the profession forward. Many pursue educational tracks – taking on roles of their own in post-professional education as residency, fellowship, or continuing education faculty. Many go on to take on academic appointments with entry-level PT programs. Many pursue leadership tracks – taking on roles of clinical or operational leadership within their company. Importantly, most all remain engaged in high-quality patient care and clinical mentoring – as fellowship is ultimately about equipping clinicians to provide the best care possible to patients and empowering future generations to do the same. It’s really all about the patient, and fellowship training opens doors for and equips graduates to take on impactful roles for moving the profession – and ultimately patient care – forward.

Visit BenchMark Rehab Institute’s website at: www.benchmarkrehabinstitute.com

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