By Peg Maas, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT
The July 1 application deadline for the Women’s Health Certification (WCS) exam is fast approaching. If you are on the fence about it, I encourage you to take the plunge and do it. If you are like I was a few years ago–a seasoned pelvic and women’s health physical therapist with absolutely no desire to take a big exam—I and my WCS Prep Committee Co-chair Mandi Murtaugh, PT, DPT, WCS, urge you to at least consider it.
Whether just a few years into your career or a long-time provider, you will find that engaging with the exam material is stimulating. The process is akin to being enrolled in a top-notch continuing education course, because you can tailor the learning to your deficiencies and reinforce your strengths. At the conclusion, you feel on top of your game. I found many benefits in the experience despite my initial reluctance.
I took the exam because, as a physical therapist without a DPT, I was concerned that my formal credentials did not reflect my level of expertise. I cringed at the idea of more exams and schooling, and debated the merits of getting a transitional DPT versus a WCS. Eventually, my choice was swayed because the certification would mean a focus on clinically relevant material. Ironically, my WCS work emboldened me to take on the challenge of the DPT, so I did that, too!
While I went into exam preparation more from necessity than desire, the sense of mastery it gave me was far more rewarding than anticipated. In addition to knowledge-building, the specialty designation certifies expertise and sets therapists apart for their commitment.
The WCS is administered by the American Board of Physical Therapist Specialties, a national board independent from the auspices of a private institute, so I have found it to be a credential that physicians can relate to and recognize. As such, it helps my marketing to providers and recruiting patients. Completion of the certification opens doors professionally and can expand leadership opportunities in our community and within our profession.
One unanticipated benefit of completion is a renewed personal investment in our profession and this specific specialty. We join a community of specialists with a shared commitment to the profession, a shared value of expertise and of elevating patient care through interdisciplinary collaboration.
In the course of preparing, opportunities emerge to forge new relationships..Mandi and I met as online study partners. It was such a positive experience that we are creating a way to connect people interested in forming study groups or partnerships. Study partnership can provide structure and support. For me it also lay the foundation for a lasting friendship with a PT I might otherwise not have met. Since then, my involvement with the Section on Women’s Health has expanded and brought me into further contact with wonderful professionals.
The challenges of applying, studying, and sitting for the exam can appear daunting, but a systematic approach makes it very doable. We will try to help you along with support and methods of connecting to others.
In Part Two of our three-part blog series, Mandi and I will talk you through the application process and offer subsequent topical material posts as you make your way to success. We are confident you will be glad you took the WCS exam.
AUTHOR: Peg Maas, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT, is co-chair of the Section on Women’s Health WCS Prep Committee.