Falsone Forges as First Female Pro Trainer

Sue FalsoneIn late October, the L.A. Dodgers hired Sue Falsone as their head physical therapist. This marked a profound shift in gears, as head positions in athletic organizations have traditionally been a male-dominated field of work.

Falsone has already served as consultant to the baseball team since 2007, but traveling with a team of all-male athletes used to training with an all-male staff brings up questions of gender issues that are not unlike ones often examined by PhD candidates in woman’s studies programs. Will the team respect her as their PT and consider her to a team member, not a female outsider? How will overnight travel with Sue affect the team, individually and as a whole? Will she be able to relate to a male-only team regarding physical issues? How will emotions play into the “game?”

Fortunately, Falsone is well-aware of the dynamics within her organization and has made huge strides in garnering the respect of the team. According to an ESPN article, “the players made her feel like part of the team right from the start”. While some have considered her gender as a potential problem for the team, she brings with her past success of reducing team injuries and has already proven herself capable of strong and efficient management to the team as a consultant.

Falsone was inspired by her aunt at a young age to work in physical therapy. Raised in New York into a traditional Italian family, she quickly learned to become self-motivated and a hard-worker. In 1996, Sue Falsone graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy from Daemon University. She directed a private training organization in Tempe, Arizona (Performance Physical Therapy of Athletes Performance), where many pro leagues sent athletes for sports training. Noticed for her successes and innovative techniques, she seemed to possess something special the Dodgers capitalized on.

Acting president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Marje Albohm told the LA Times that this promotion for Falsone marks the beginning of the next frontier for women and that the appointment evolved in a very natural way. Albohm hopes that this event will allow women to be viewed as legitimate candidates for jobs that have traditionally been heavily dominated by men.

Falsone’s appointment is pivotal in allowing women to take up a more visible part in sporting events. Falsone’s focus, not on herself as a woman, but as a trainer is quite a natural style for her. She contends that integrating traditional physical therapy with conditioning and strength training in a holistic manner provides the best training for athletes to excel.

Although Falsone’s promotion has sent ripples through the sports management world, the promotion couldn’t seem any more natural for anyone who’s aware of her expertise in physical therapy. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this event shouldn’t be about how stunning it was for a woman to be hired in a prominent sports management position, but instead how merit is becoming the new standard for a line of work heavily skewed by gender.

Guest Author: Alexis Bonari – 5 Benefits of Vibram FiveFingers in Physical Therapy

physical therapy patientIf you’re a physical therapist, chances are that you’ve heard of the Vibram FiveFingers craze. Take one look at these shoes, and you’ll think they’re just the next contestant in the recent string of shoes designed to look “unique” for people who would rather look fit than be fit.

I can tell you that Vibrams don’t fall into that category. I’ve had my Vibram FiveFinger Trek Sports for three months and I literally can’t wait to put them on every day when I get home from work. I only run about nine miles a week in them, but when I’m out there on the trails, I can’t believe how great it feels to be wearing these shoes. They have a wide range of health benefits that don’t just affect my feet – my whole body feels more natural when I wear them, and the old aches and pains I used to experience are slowly fading away.

Here are the five main benefits of wearing Vibrams. You might have some patients who could make better progress with these shoes, so take a look to find out whether or not you should recommend them.

  1. Building Strength in Targeted Muscle Groups
    For patients who have suffered injuries in their feet or legs and are on the path to recovery, Vibrams can provide the potential to build muscle strength in atrophied regions more effectively. They stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, which reduces the risk of future injury while improving general foot health. Patients who are almost ready to “graduate” from physical therapy could benefit strongly from the injury prevention aspect of Vibrams.
  2. Improving Range of Motion
    Because Vibrams separate the wearer’s toes, a whole new range of motion is opened up. Most shoes constrict the foot and impair natural motion, but Vibrams encourage the body to move without constraints. This helps the foot and toes to move more naturally. You can check out a story here from a patient who went through ankle surgery, then started wearing Vibrams after his physical therapist recommended them. He now enjoys an improved range of motion in the previously injured ankle.
  3. Increasing Agility & Balance
    These shoes stimulate neural function, causing thousands of neurological receptors in the feet to send important information to the brain. As a result of this phenomenon, balance and agility are improved naturally. Many patients struggle with balance when recovering from an injury, and that’s one of my favorite things about Vibrams: their ability to help with this crucial step toward recovery.
  4. Aligning Spine & Improving Posture
    As I mentioned above, my aches and pains (which were mostly in my hips and lower back) have all but disappeared after three months of wearing Vibrams. These shoes lower the heel during walking and running, which helps to distribute body weight evenly across the foot bed. This contributes to improved posture and spinal alignment.
  5. Enabling All-Natural Movement
    The innovatively designed Vibrams feel great because they promote natural body movement. This reduces the possibility for practicing physical therapy exercises incorrectly because the body is encouraged to move naturally rather than being forced into certain positions.Tips & Caveats

If you do choose to recommend these shoes to a patient, there are some things you should know about the process of getting used to Vibrams:

  • Wear socks at first. Try the athletic toe socks from Injini, which are designed for this purpose. This increases comfort and prevents rocks and sand from making direct contact with the feet.
  • Ease into it. Wear Vibrams around the house and alternate them with other shoes before using them for exercise.
  • Prepare to get addicted.

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 17 – The Travel PT Job Phone Interview

Traveling Physical Therapist sitting on sofa during phone interviewThe waiting is over and now you are ready to be interviewed for your traveling physical therapy job. Right away you will realize that the biggest difference in this interview versus others you have done in the past is that this one will be over the phone. Initially this may seem like a relief and you may be thinking how you can just stay in your pajamas and slippers and relax, but a phone interview presents its own kind of challenges and requires just as much planning as a traditional in-person interview.

Challenges of phone interviews for Travel PTs

  • Much of communication is done through body language, which is obviously something missing from a phone interview. This means your message needs to be very clear and remember, sarcasm doesn’t come across on the phone very well, especially with someone you don’t know
  • Without facial expressions being visible, the tone and enthusiasm of your voice will be extra important.
  • Remember to smile when you talk, it can make a difference in how the interviewer hears you.
  • If you have an accent it may be difficult for an interviewer to understand you over the phone, so be sure to speak slower and enunciate
  • Because they can’t see you, your personality may not be as easily conveyed to an interviewer
  • You have the same disadvantages of not seeing the interviewer and their body language and non-verbal cues so listen closely and make sure you fully understand all the interview questions
  • You may be distracted by what is going on around you, but this can be avoided by blocking out your schedule so that you are able to do the interview in privacy with no one else around
  • You have less time to make a good impression, so you will need to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity you have

Phone interview tips for Travel PTs

Before the interview

  • Create your Physical Therapist sales pitch – a 60 second version and a longer 5 point version of why you would be great for the job
  • Make sure to schedule the interview for a time when you are able to talk and make sure you are in a quiet place with no distractions when you take the call
  • If for someone reason you have to miss the call, make sure that your voicemail sounds professional, if you love your clever one with the theme song from Full House you can always change it back later
  • Have a copy of your resume close by to help you talk about your experience, just make it sure it is easy to scan so you don’t get lost in it
  • Dress up for the interview even though you are on the phone, it will make you feel more prepared and confident
  • Practice ahead of time by recording yourself answering typical interview questions
  • Have researched the position beforehand so you can easily explain how your skills match the job
  • Prepare a few questions that you can ask about the position ahead of time. Asking questions shows you are truly interested in the position.
  • Have examples of: times you succeeded at work, times you faced challenges and overcame them and examples of times when communication and teamwork helped you in your work
  • Have a brief introduction about yourself and your experience memorized

During the interview

  • Remember that your tone is one of the main things the interviewer is going to have to go on, so it is equally as important as what you actually say
  • Speak with enthusiasm  and confidence to keep the interviewer interested in you
  • Stand up during the interview it will help you project your voice and it also helps with your confidence
  • Be sure to listen closely so you fully understand each question – if you have to, ask them to repeat it
  • Make certain that you actually fully answer each question
  • Stay away from yes/no answers since they can be conversation flow stoppers. Always try to have a reason and/or examples to expand on your answers
  • Don’t forget to mention that you are interested in the position and ask for the job
  • Thank them for the chance to interview

After the interview

  • Let your recruiter know that you just interviewed so they can follow-up on your behalf
  • Write down any questions you forgot to ask so your recruiter can follow up for you
  • Ask your recruiter for any feedback from the interviewer that could help you in future interviews 

Phone interviews can make some people nervous, but they are nothing to be afraid of. Just make sure to take them seriously and prepare yourself and you should have no trouble getting a traveling PT job and moving onto step 18 of the Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide, which is “Accepting the Travel PT Job”.

Guest Author: Maria Rainier – Healthy Wake-Up Beverages for Jetlagged Travel PTs

Traveling PT drinking teaWhen you’re traveling serious distances for work, passing through one or more time zones on the way to your destination, it’s easy to let fatigue affect you the next morning. But if you’re a traveling physical therapist, you’ll probably be starting your latest job a few hours after you arrive, so you can’t afford to let jetlag get to you. Yes, there are energy drinks and coffee galore no matter where you go, but as a physical therapist, you know how important it is to keep your body and mind at their healthiest.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular ways to get energized in the morning aren’t the healthiest ways to keep your mind sharp and your body ready for action. It’s easy to rely on that morning cup of joe, especially when you’re spending the night in a hotel that has that convenient little coffee maker right there on the dresser. But you can get a healthier and more effective boost of energy from one or more of the following drinks, and it’s easy to make them even when you’re on the go.

Black Tea

The main benefits of tea (as opposed to coffee) are that it’s packed with antioxidants and you’re less likely to add excessive amounts of cream and sugar. It’s still potent enough to wake you up, but it’s gentler on your system and won’t let you down quite as hard as coffee might. I drink a cup of black tea every morning, and I used to be a coffee addict – I find the flavors of black tea to be more appropriate for morning and I love the “clean” energy I get from it. Black tea also has more caffeine than green tea, but depending on your needs, green tea might be energizing enough for you.

You probably don’t want to drink the same tea every morning, especially when there are so many great varieties, so here are three of the best and easiest to find that I’ve tasted. You can simply take the teabags with you and use a coffee maker to heat up the water, and this brand is easy enough to find that you can get more in most places even if you run out. All three of these are made by Tazo and can be found at coffee shops, grocery stores, health food stores, and even superstores like Target and Wal-Mart. To taste them before buying a whole box, simply find a coffee shop that carries them and order a tea to get a single teabag.

  • Awake: This blend of black teas from India and Sri Lanka is an all-natural way to feel invigorated, no matter what happened the night before. To me, it carries hints of citrus and anise, giving it a fresh but substantial flavor that wakes up the senses.
  • Focus: To be honest, I do have a favorite, and this is it. In addition to all-natural black tea, it has lemon, orange, chicory, and cocoa flavors that blend together into a beverage that tastes like pure energy. You get caffeine from both cocoa peels and black tea, so it’s a perfect way to get that morning kick when you need it the most.
  • Organic Chai: If I’m feeling especially sluggish, I choose the chai. Double doses of energy from a black tea blend and ginger root wake you up gently, but it’s the black pepper that jump-starts your taste buds. Other spices like cinnamon, cloves, and anise make this tea a winner in the fight against jetlag.

Lemon Pick-Me-Up

If you want to avoid caffeine entirely, but you still want to enjoy the energizing effects of a healthy morning beverage, try this on for size. You’ll have to get your hands on a fresh lemon, but you can easily carry a few with you (along with a small manual juicer and peeler). Before you do anything, wash the lemon with soap and warm water to get rid of any pesticides – if you’re really committed to a healthy drink, try to use an organic lemon. Once your lemon is clean, cut it in half, juice one half, and add the liquid to a glass of room-temperature water. Next, use your peeler to get a teaspoon of lemon zest out of the peel that’s left from the juiced half, adding this to the water and lemon juice. Stir it up and enjoy – it’s surprisingly refreshing and will get your morning off to a healthy and alert start.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she’s been researching the lowest paying degrees as well as the highest paying jobs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Guest Author: Jessica Bosari for Allied Health World – Young PTs Choose Travel

Mature Man Working With a Physical TherapistMedical students have many career paths open to them. Many young people are not prepared for the lengthy and arduous training required to be physicians, but medical careers like physical therapy make a lot of sense. Students can earn their degrees and begin work once they receive their masters’ degrees.

More Freedom, More Pay, More of the World

Traveling physical therapists enjoy higher pay, plus the ability to travel and see the country. Some travel with friends, staying on assignment for 13 weeks, and then picking up another assignment in another location. Many couples meet while in Physical therapy training, get married, and then take traveling assignments until they feel ready to have children. This lets them see the country, broaden their horizons, an meet new people, all while earning an excellent income that pays off their medical schooling costs sooner.

A Smart Foundation for the Future

By traveling in their younger years, physical therapists set themselves up for a stable, steady future. The extra money helps them pay off debt and save for a home. When they find a place to settle down, they can still work travel physical therapy assignments, limited to a smaller geographical area. Some may even seek per diem work, giving them more control over how far they need to travel for work.

PTA or PT, Both are Excellent Opportunities

The top pay for physical therapists just out of school who decide not to travel is around $45 per hour. However, those who are willing to travel to places like Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and other states can make $60 to $80 per hour. Those who decide to pursue physical therapy careers without a Master’s degree can work as physical therapy assistance and make as much as $35 per hour plus food and housing expenses. Although traveling is not for everyone, those willing to do so will enjoy many benefits.

Guest Author: Maria Rainier – Travel Light: Tips for Efficient Packing

travel physical therapist trying to pack suitcaseIf you’re road tripping, you don’t want to fill your vehicle with suitcases – that extra weight decreases your fuel efficiency and it means you’ll have to roll, carry, and otherwise haul all of those suitcases around with you. That’s no way to travel. Things get even worse for the baggage-laden traveling physical therapist who’s flying to the next job since airlines now charge by the suitcase. No matter how you’re getting to your destination, the travel experience will be less of a headache and more of an adventure if you can pack efficiently. That means knowing what’s essential and packing it well. So if you’re interested in lightening your load and learning some professional travel skills, use these tips the next time you’re packing for a new job.

Learn from the Best

Why not get some packing tips from people who travel for a living? The New York Times interviewed seasoned flight attendants and pilots to get some professional packing advice for those of us who would appreciate a lighter suitcase. In addition to these tips, I’ve included a few of my own – most of which I learned the hard way when I flew overseas for the first time. I was literally repacking my suitcase in front of an agent who was telling me I had five minutes before I’d miss my flight. It wasn’t pretty, so avoid getting stuck in that situation and see if you can use some of these tips to start packing like a pro.

  • Pack your necessities first, from largest to smallest.
  • As you pack your necessities, try to fit smaller items inside larger ones. For example, you can put socks inside your shoes and roll small fragile items inside your clothing.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding and stacking them. You can even place one shirt on top of another and roll them both at the same time.
  • When you travel, wear layers. This is a good way to bring extra clothing and ensure that you won’t be too hot or too cold on the way to and from your destination.
  • Wear your largest, heaviest shoes when you travel – but only if you need them. Try to leave larger shoes at home since they take up a lot of space, and if you must bring a pair, wear them instead of packing them. For example, if you want to go hiking at your destination, wear your boots when you travel.
  • Bring no more than three pairs of shoes. They take up a lot of space and contribute a significant amount of weight.
  • If you bring a lot of electronics, invest in a single charger that’s compatible with all of your items. You can easily find car chargers with interchangeable tips, but if you won’t be driving on your trip, you might consider finding a solar charger. Most of these are equipped to charge a wide variety of devices. By bringing a single charger, you’ll save space and you won’t have to worry about remembering to bring more than one.
  • Avoid bringing a heavy coat. Try wearing thermal tees and long underwear along with a light jacket instead.
  • Ladies, pack basic clothing in neutral solids so you can easily create outfits from just a few pieces. Examples of clothes that can do double duty include black pants, skirts, and tops; wrinkle-free items in a lighter neutral like beige; and a few white tank tops for layering. Add variety with small accessories like scarves and jewelry.
  • Take along an e-reader instead of books and magazines. If you need your laptop, you can even download free e-reader software and use it to read your e-books.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, writing on online degrees and playing with the newly revealed online college degree calculator. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.