This is a question I get asked on a daily basis and I’m glad my patients ask. The truth is that the average patient doesn’t know how or why we are qualified to be teaching them about areas of their body that in most cases would seem like a very taboo area to even discuss. This is especially true in the case of internal pelvic floor work.
The truth is that there are varying levels of education amongst providers and it’s important that we let our patients know that the information they are receiving is not only from a qualified therapist, but also sound. I explain to my patients the benefit of mentorship and post-graduate education. In the case of the APTA’s Section on Women’s Health, courses are provided that lead to a path for certification. The courses aren’t easy. There are hands on practicals and written exams. At the end, you have to write a case reflection that is reviewed by seasoned physical therapists before you can call yourself certified. My patients rest assured that they are receiving good care because they can trust that the advice I am giving is not just my own, but that gleaned from those educational experiences.
How did you learn how to do this?
Yet again, I get asked this question every semester at UCSF/SFSU’s School of Physical Therapy in San Francisco, where I teach as an associate clinical professor, by PT students looking to specialize in pelvic care after graduation. I initially recommend that they take any class they can as students since it’s often hard to find a class in a city where you have a place to stay or you don’t have to fly to keep costs down. But the real answer is to make sure you know where the material came from, scrutinize it, use that discerning eye that you develop as a student to read research papers and develop a plan of care for a challenging patient. As chair of the CAPP-Pelvic committee I am obviously biased to say that I feel the best education is through the APTA’s SOWH CAPP process. I know that the material is research based. I know that every comma has been reviewed by a group of excellent physical therapists before it rolls out as a course. That doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent educational materials that are based on clinical experience, we even allow for that in our materials, but we note what came from a peer reviewed article and what is consensus. There is transparency, evidence and experience rolled up into a manual for you to take home and review over and over again.
So, how did I learn how to do this?
My answer is dedication to the idea that my patients deserve the best care I can give, opening myself to new ideas, current research and most of all by listening to my patients.
Liz Miracle, MSPT, Board-Certified Women's Health Clinical Specialist
Liz Miracle, MSPT, Board-Certified Women's Health Clinical Specialist is the founder and owner of Miracle Physical Therapy in San Francisco. She received her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Texas Woman’s University, and has worked as a women’s health physical therapist for the past nine years. Liz is an Assistant Clinical Professor for the University of California San Francisco Graduate School of Physical Therapy. She currently serves as Chair of the CAPP-Pelvic Committee, and is an instructor for the Section on Women’s Health. Most recently, she has collaborated on the development of the kGoal smart pelvic floor trainer, a home use biofeedback tool for women.