Fall has arrived with full force—chilly and dark nights, rain (or where you are, maybe snow), holiday preparations, and the end of another year. With the winding down of 2016, reflection seems to be in the air. But, as an educator, I know self-reflection leads to improved decision making when coupled with reflection-in-action.1 The experimentation of reflection-in-action can manifest itself in more than just clinical practice. Work-life balance, time commitments, and being caught up in the busy-ness of the end of the year should spark reflection-in-action. What is of value to me? To my family? How am I choosing to spend my time? Or, do I feel like I'm not choosing ... and what does that mean? As professionals, are we dividing our limited resource of time in ways that are beneficial to our patients? To ourselves? To our profession?
I'm often asked how I make time to be so active professionally. But it doesn't really matter how I make time, it's more in how I make the decision. Finding a passion within our profession—whether it be advocacy, pro-bono work, association organization, or projects related to clinical expertise—that is the key. Once you can find something you enjoy or are challenged by or have a particular knack for, time becomes the easy thing. It's easy to find time for things that are satisfying and at which you can learn or excel.
So this is my year-end challenge to all of you ... when you find yourself being passionate about something during this busy and dark and cold time of year, reflect in the moment. How might you apply that to serve your profession, your workplace, your colleagues, or your practice? And then seek out a way to share your talents, knowledge, and skills. The Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy runs on the spirit and power of its members. What might you share or contribute? What passion can you bring to broaden and improve acute care physical therapy?
The Academy has adapted to the busy lives of its members. Many projects and initiatives are now chunked into smaller tasks with tighter time frames to encourage and enable members' commitments.2 Some longer-term projects have rotating members, to allow involvement for a short burst during tasks best suited to the individual. Because of virtual workspaces, volunteers can spend an hour or 2 here and there to aid in the work of the Academy on their schedule, meeting online or via conference call to avoid the time and cost of travel. And while face-to-face meetings such as Combined Sections Meeting allow for deeper and more personal connections, much of the day-to-day work of the Academy is completed by volunteers on their schedule. Coupled with our Academy office and those experts, member volunteers can focus on putting their expertise into projects, while leaving organizational and other details to those skilled in association management, meeting planning, and technology. Knowing this, how might this different work model fit your passions, dreams, or talents?
This spring the Academy's Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, and invited guests will spend 2 days updating, revising, and creating a new strategic plan for the Academy. I wholly expect big ideas, grand plans, and high expectations to come out of this meeting. And we will need members to contribute to make our revised strategic plan a reality. And I want you all primed, ready to jump in, full of ideas and energy to start 2017 off with bang.
These are meaty questions, and ones that only you can answer. But I encourage you to ask them. To remember that reflection-in-action coupled with self-reflection should lead to better decision making. Not just clinically, but personally and professionally. And let's see if we can't lend a mutual hand to each other to continue to grow.
Sharon L. Gorman, PT, DPTSc
Board-Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist
Fellow, National Academies of Practice
President, Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy
1. SF Wainwright, KF Shepard, LB Harman, Stephens J. Novice and experienced physical therapist clinicians: a comparison of how reflection is used to inform the clinical decision-making process. Phys Ther. 2010;90(1):75–88. doi:10.2522/ptj.20090077.
2. Grigsby K. Committee, task force, team: what's the difference? Why does it matter? Acad Physician Sci. 2008. https://www.aamc.org/download/164730/data/grigsby_committee_task_force_team.pdf
. Accessed November 2, 2016.