The Easiest Way To Become A Better PT In 48 Hours 

In general, most of my life’s education has been devoted to one thing: being a really good generalist. Passing middle and high school generally meant cruising through some science, art, literature, and civics classes. College translated into generally doing well while taking just the right measure of randomness until something “stuck”. When a career finally made sense, grad school began and ended with one ultimate mission; pass a standardized test to become a generally well-rounded PT clinician.

Without realizing it, I developed a phobia of being specific with my interests. I found myself clinging onto large popular beliefs in the world of education, clinical philosophies, and real-life application of knowledge. In this age of instant information, access to endless data, and constantly changing public opinions, it’s always felt easier to agree or disagree with everyone and expect to generally fall somewhere in the middle of an argument.

Short of the endless possibilities of continuing education courses, I’ve likely consumed a large portion of “info” in the world of Physical Therapy through Twitter, Facebook, professional publications, mentorship, media publications email subscriptions etc. It got to the point where I got legitimate anxiety if I missed or didn’t review something that was gaining traction amongst the masses. Rather than settle on something I could engage with regularly and find value in, I turned to all other avenues that weren’t PT. This was great for a little while after I graduated PT school, because it continued to feed the innate generalist I’ve been programmed to be. But on June 24th– 25th 2017, all that changed.

Over one of the hottest weekends the locals of Portland, Oregon have endured in a long time, a beautiful clinic called New Heights Physical Therapy hosted a con-ed course held by the Institute of Clinical Excellence (ICE). I’m writing this blog a few days after attending this ICE course, and Ill finally get to the point. The past weekend wasn’t just a PT con-ed course. In the 48-hour schedule of classes and extracurricular activities, I had my entire professional career infused with a mesmerizing dose of euphoria.

All the generalized concepts of clinical skill development, of “networking” (I personally hate this word – it implies people and relationships are developed in the same nature which you would collect minnows by putting a net in the water), and of staying on top of the recent evidence and popular beliefs were set to rest within seconds of walking into New Height’s doors. My fear of wading through my career as a generalist was stone cold halted. The necessity of consuming everything was shattered. I immediately felt connected to a group of people whose main interest was to help me grow. I don’t mean to rag on school or complain about knowing a lot of general things because it has certainly been helpful time and time again. But for the first time as a “seasoned” learner, I could significantly drop my guard, be myself, and enjoy the learning process as the knowledge nuggets were dropped hour after hour. What I’d like to do with the rest of this blog is share my first hand perspective into how I was convinced that ICE is hands down one of the easiest ways to become a better PT, professional, and human being in 48 hours.

Justin Dunaway: A PT going above and beyond the expectations

In a profession that serves people, Justin has the hard and soft skills dialed in. It takes all of 5 minutes to know that the reason Justin is so effective at helping others groom their skills is because of his passion. There is absolutely NO shortage of it. Having had the fortune to hangout with Justin a couple of times has allowed me to learn that he’s one of the most down to earth, altruistic, and good-natured dudes I’ve ever met. You would never guess that sharing his impeccable understanding of thrust manipulation, pain neuroscience, medical communication, and primary-provider healthcare is not his full-time job. Do you think you’re good at explaining the effects of manual therapy? Do you feel comfortable having a discussion about the causes, progressions and amelioration of chronic pain? Can you effectively manipulate joints in multiple ways and make it look like your hands are just extensions of the fluffy pillow surface your patient is comfortably lying on? If yes, then please connect with Justin, because you most certainly will hit off a fantastic conversation with unmatched passion. If you’re looking to improve on any of these things, you will also very likely have a fantastic discussion, and you will be amazed how much better you are at these talents.

Eric Chaconas: The PT whom you’d refer your mom, uncle and dog to.

I’ve had a decent share of right shoulder instability for a few years now. Old injuries piled on top of each other means I’m just a little apprehensive of my arm being stretched too much over-head. At least, I used to be apprehensive, before Eric grabbed a hold of it and effortlessly got my arm to relax like nobody else ever could. His hands and technique are just that comforting. Sure, there may be tons of folks that have some great hands that feel relaxing and effective no matter what PT intervention their applying. But the thing about Eric, the special sauce he brought to his lecture, was the fact that he could teach everyone around him how to better manage his or her technique. What an incredible gift to have! As if knowing every bit of literature one could cram into their brain wasn’t enough, Eric spent the majority of his time coaching up technique, offering advice and fielding questions. When the time was right, the research and science was sprinkled in (with a little bit of modern tech for extra flavor). I think the longest span of time that went by before I picked up something new to use in the clinic this week was 8 minutes, and that’s being conservative.

Steve Short: Turn. Up. The. Awesome.

In 10 years of school I have never been more motivated by an exercise programming/exercise physiology/ S&C lecture. It is a shame so much of Steve’s hard work has to be invested into keeping a slew of the entire worlds best athletes healthy. It felt like there was nobody else in the room as Steve broke down some must-know knowledge about strengthening, movement assessment, and classic exercise progression. Then, with a booming clap, tunes would appear out of thin air, energy levels skyrocketed, and everyone in the class was applying some tier-1 skills. This cycle of learning and application went on for what seemed like hours, probably because it was 100 degrees outside and 20+ people were blasting a dynamic warm up like a professional basketball team inside the clinic, but it was hands down the BEST jolt of confidence I’ve had from a single strength/exercise lecture in over a decade.

Mike Eisenhart: The Thomas Edison of Physical Therapy

            What do you get when you combine endless info-graphics, the innovation of a long-time subscriber to forward thinkers such as Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, and Geoffrey Moore, and 20 years of experience doing things completely different from the mainstream? You get Mike. No coffee needed when Mike takes the floor at 8am with his exquisite passion for shifting the tide of healthcare. Mike’s ability to convey his perspective on population health and primary disease prevention is so incredibly powerful that you can’t help but feel like he has all the answers. And even if Mike only has a small fraction of the answers to solving our nations healthcare crisis, his wisdom and experience is nothing short of encouraging that what he is up to with the APHPT has been and will be a game changer for many communities. If you haven’t already encountered Mike’s work, you’re behind the ball, but fret not. It may just well be the next big thing we all face palm ourselves over in a few years.

Jason Lunden: The Proof Is In The Pudding

            At the end of day 1 of the ICE course the majority of the class and faculty ran up a small mountain and worked out in a park. More details on that glorious activity in a moment, for now I want to shine some attention on the first time I recognized Jason. As a small group of us were running the last descent of a steep hill when Jason came ripping by me like a bat out of hell shouting “just keeping you on your toes”. It was awesome, and nothing made me more excited to learn from someone who walks the walk they talk. During Jason’s lecture I think he misspoke or skipped a step zero times. Running always seemed so complex, especially the gait analysis, but rest assured there was more than enough for me to plug into my follow-up visits with all my runners the very next week. From taping to assessment, and programming to injury prevention, the knowledge and experience Jason shared with us was easily portrayed and immediately impactful.

Mitch Babcock: The Future of Fitness AND Treatment

            You don’t have to look hard at a crowd to pick out Mitch. He’s they guy that looks like he cares as much about those around him as he does his own personal health. Over the course of the weekend there was seldom an applause, laughter, or compliment that didn’t start with Mitch. The same initiative applied for any push up, squat, or squirrel jump. Mitch is a guy I’ve engaged with in the past through various online platforms, and he’s always been a stand up professional with some seriously well-guided principles. We all know the chances of someone being a bit different in person then they are online, but that wasn’t the case at all. Leading a team of tired, hot, and hungry PT’s up a 2 mile hillside to workout with each other on a summer evening in Portland (with abundant food and libations available) takes a skilled motivator. Enter Mitch, who pushed each and every single person through his workout and was the last one standing as we all accomplished the task. What an incredible guy to be around, and what an ideal position he’s in to take multiple health industries by storm.

Morgan Denny: Will The Real Provider Please Stand Up?

All PT’s probably have a varying degree of characteristics that make them a great PT. We all know the APTA core principles: altruism, excellence, caring, ethics, respect, communication and accountability. What’s incredible about Morgan is she has all the great characteristics of a quality human being, which translate very well into being a great PT, educator, leader, and friend. What a pleasure it was to see Morgan selflessly devoting her efforts to helping ALL the PT’s in attendance improve their skills and grow as primary care providers. If there is one ICE course to keep an eye out for that will help develop your clinical autonomy, Morgan will be building just that.

Jeff Moore: Rewriting The PT Hall Of Fame

            It’s borderline unfair to write a review of Jeff. I want to, and I really should. But there is too much positivity I could speak to that nobody will keep reading. If you haven’t already, start following Jeff, learn from Jeff, and please appreciate the work he is putting in to our profession to make it the best it can be for decades to come. As the mastermind behind this entire ICE mission, there is no doubt Jeff has led by example. Please don’t make the mistake of letting Jeff off your radar for too long, your happiness and expertise may not recover.

If there is one thing I hope to convey in this review blog, it is that I think the people around you will have the greatest impact on your life. I don’t think everyone gets along in the world, nor do I think they necessarily have to. But I do think everyone has value to offer. The ICE sampler course in Portland 2017 packed more value into a 48 hour window than I’ve ever experienced because of the people sharing and progressing its mission. If you are interested in learning more about ICE, please visit their website: AND their Facebook page: Institute Of Clinical Excellence (@educatePT)

Written by Nick Bracciante, PT


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