Sports Injury Fix Director Mike James was honoured to speak at the recent Therapy Live virtual Conference, a phenomenally innovative and well received live, online MSK summit that saw 22,000 delegates join nearly a hundred speakers from around the world. Here he offers some reflections.
I’m sat writing this blog on a Friday night, the day of the most ground breaking learning experience for therapists in recent history – Therapy Live. Two things are strange about this scenario:
1. I would normally still be travelling home from a faraway venue at this point.
2. I would normally be much more tired from attending the course than I currently am.
Continued Professional Development or CPD as we love to call it in our traditionally British three letter abbreviation (TLA) culture is a mandatory, yet often enjoyable learning requirement. But it can often become stressful, expensive and time consuming to undertake.
This event allowed therapists of all professional backgrounds, without geographical boundaries to engage in a smorgasbord of learning, at their own leisure from the comfort of their sofa or clinic.
It just coincidentally happens that COVID-19 meant this was the perfect platform for this conference, but I have no doubt it would have been exceptionally well received regardless.
As the sun sets on the conference, the masterminds and enablers are currently enjoying a pub quiz over on Facebook. However some are already on social media questioning “Has Therapy Live changed the CPD landscape forever?” and wondering if it is going to be “A game changer?”
Well quite frankly I think it is, but not in the sense that many do. Will this lead to the death of the in-person course as some people are starting to allude to? - well absolutely not!
In fact, what it should be seen as a liberation. A liberation of learning. A liberation that there really are no limits or boundaries to how we learn in these modern times.
Which is a breath of fresh air in my opinion as we learn so much about the many different way’s individuals like to, and respond to learning.
There are of course certain skills, certain methods and areas that will always be more advantageous to be taught in person, and we should not try to fix what isn't broken, but we can refine it or offer alternatives.
As someone who runs my own in person courses, one thing that is always lovely is to “touch skin” with someone you've never met before, to chat in the coffee breaks to new colleagues and peers. I love to go off on so many weird and wonderful tangents that completely deviate from the subject matter at hand over the course of a day or whatever timescale the learning is held over.
To be able to take a break and get away from normality by visiting new places, seeing other people’s clinics and venues can be exciting. If lucky enough, we can even learn from and meet other people from many parts of the world.
What providing CPD virtually will do is to provide people with options. It will provide people with options where time, money, travel, work, family commitments and accommodation for example have sometimes become barriers to attend some of these courses previously.
The Internet has allowed so much worldwide communication, and personally I know of so many therapists from around the world that I would simply love to sit in a room with and learn from. However, it's not always feasible from my part and likewise their part to facilitate this for all the reasons mentioned earlier.
We now have a platform or arena to do this, and to understand that we can learn anywhere in the world, at practically anytime, with practically anyone should we wish.
Of course, we could draw a comparative list of pros and cons for both, but the simple fact is that we don’t need to. What Therapy Live has taught us is that there is a place for both, and you can now be empowered to have a CHOICE in which you prefer at any given time.
Whether a delegate or a host / learning provider, you are now free to choose how, when, where and in which format you will seek or provide that education.
As is the case for most thing in life, the pendulum will undoubtedly swing heavily in both directions before settling neatly somewhere in the middle, personally I will certainly look to move forward as a provider and seeker of education utilising both in person and virtual learning arenas.
This is the same situation we find ourselves in with Telehealth / virtual clinics / online consultations – it shouldn’t be seen as an alternative or replacement to face to face for all, it should now be another option on the table for when and how we choose to use it.
We live in a world where most people seek convenience and simplicity, and now Jack and colleagues have suddenly demonstrated that we can achieve this, without compromising quality and value.
So many of us were able to bathe in the sea of knowledge that Therapy Live provided from the comfort and ease of our sofas or clinics. We were able to dip our toes in this new pond of learning and that water felt good.
So many of us were able to balance parenting, work and life commitments without missing out on the learning experience and now have the chance to continue to learn from it afterwards.
How many people will go to work this week and discuss the learning experience they had, but will be able to signpost their colleagues who couldn’t attend to a place that they can also get to enjoy and benefit from it.
I know how frustrated, and downright jealous I have been so many times over the years when I hear how helpful a course was to a colleague knowing I have missed out on it.
Having digital access to session notes or even the live webinar itself in recorded form will be invaluable to consolidate that learning beyond the time frame of the course. How many of us have course handouts at home that we scribbled furiously on over the years numerous times, yet when we look at them now we cannot find the context we write them in originally and are simply left frustrated.
And to now have all the content available from Therapy Live on TherapistLearning.com feels incredibly reassuring as there is so much to digest and absorb over the coming weeks and months.
I offer my course attendees the option of electronic or paper handbooks, but always caveat it that some of the context of our talks today will be lost in the written text – this could resolve much of that angst.
As a side benefit – anyone who knows me knows that I have immense pride in my heavily laden well stacked bookcases that have taken me years to accrue. I will continue undoubtedly to enjoy buying books, but just as Kindle and similar platforms have revolutionised reading for many, having my attended courses saved on a memory stick or cloud based could be a fantastic option.
So, in summary, and written in a very raw and non-reflective manner at the time of writing, then yes, CPD has changed forever. But not in a tectonic plate shifting, T-Rex ending way that many may predict. We have simply had an insight, a brave and ambitious insight into the possibilities that now exist.
So, moving forward please allow yourself to be open minded about how you acquire or provide CPD.
Once again, massive Kudos to:
- Jack and the team who continue to revolutionise the industry on a mass scale and for the greater good.
- The speakers for being supportive and confident enough to try something new on such a grand scale.
- The sponsors and exhibitors who trusted and enabled Jack to pull this off.
- To all who attended as its you / us who proved this thing can work.
Now obviously I am slightly biased being part of the TherapistLearning.com team alongside my Sports Injury Fix and The Physio Matters Podcast colleagues. But it really is the reason that we came together to collaborate on this new learning platform.
We truly believe that this enables CPD to be available for more people, from more people, more often, more easily and with less hassle, without sacrificing the quality or learning experience.
But likewise, I do still look forward to meeting many, many more people in person during CPD in the coming years.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and if you are interested in finding out about the sessions from Therapy Live, or about subscription to Therapist Learning then please feel free to Click here.