Online or In-Person Physical Therapy Mentorship
Great mentors don’t push us to follow in their footsteps. They guide us to blaze our own trail.
The goal is to help them create and convey their ideas, not clone ours.
It used to be that online–or virtual–mentorship was viewed as radical and something both the mentor and mentee could not successfully navigate. In fact, a study was published in 2003 that concluded, while online mentoring was indeed beneficial, many participants had “difficulty in getting online” or challenges downloading material. At that time, in-person meetings were viewed as more convenient.
Times Have Changed
We’ve seen a definite shift from technology as a barrier to overcome to technology as an extremely helpful aid. For most physical therapists, “getting online” is not challenging, and we’re much more comfortable with Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Webex, WhatsApp, and other online communication platforms.
Access to Other Professionals
One of the other huge benefits of online mentoring programs is the ability to connect with and learn from professionals of other parts of the country or even other countries. In addition to that unique perspective, we can work with physical therapists who are real experts in their given fields. This exposure to new cultures, ideas, and practices is extremely beneficial. for example, professionals in New England have different challenges from those in the Midwest, South, or West Coast. Meeting with professionals from different parts of the country helps us to better understand our profession and how we fit in it.
Online mentoring also increases meeting time flexibility. We all have busy patient care and personal schedules. The convenience of meeting virtually allows more options as we’re not “forced” to travel to a meeting.
While online, virtual platforms have improved the ability to communicate, these media also present some challenges. Reading body language is a bit more difficult online, though the video portion does help with this.
One of the other obvious communication challenges is time zone differences. An article from 2006 reported that time zones lose US businesses billions of dollars a year due to lost of productivity. To overcome time zone challenges, you and your mentor will need to compromise on meeting times.
We’ve all been in meetings that have experienced difficulties presenting a slideshow or muting challenges. Technology, as helpful as it is, can fail. This is another potential downside to virtual mentoring relationships.
One of the last challenges to online mentoring is a lack of chemistry. Many view this as an insurmountable hurdle; I see it as an opportunity. If you learn that the mentor you’re working with just doesn’t click with you and your personality, it is easier to discontinue meeting (though this should be done professionally).
Online mentoring presents definite challenges, but the benefits of a fresh perspective, convenience, and access to expert, experienced professionals surpass those difficulties. So if you’re looking for a mentor, give it a try!
To Sign Up for Mentoring
I enjoy working with people and watching them achieve their goals.
If you are interested in working with me on your career (including interviews and plans) or specific patient questions or exercise program design, please click here to learn about the different options and to sign up.