Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Firstly, obvious congrats to Ben for the nomination and all things moving forward.

Now my question to all of you... why specialize?

I will be taking my OCS exam, Ben will be taking his NCS and I know a few of the other NP's have already taken one of the specialist exams.
As NP's is it too soon or just the right time to etch out a specialty?
The field that we are in is so broad and diverse it can create a jack of all trades and a master of none situation. For me it was a simple choice because ortho/sports is where my passions lie and are so interspersed (plan to do SCS at some point). I am taking it to force me to sharpen my knowledge base and hopefully serve to make me more marketable in an otherwise saturated NYC market.
I am very curious what all your experiences have been. Has it made you more marketable? Did it actually help sharpen your skill set or was it just an affirmation of what you already knew?
The SCS is the only way a PT can legally (to my knowledge, or also having your ATC) cover sporting events on the sideline, has anyone taken advantage of that? Do other specialties provide you with other 'benefits'?
What was your approach for studying (obviously very personalized question, but good info for us in this boat)?

I apologize for just asking a lot of questions but I feel like this is the right group to ask and hopefully this will stimulate some good convo...


  1. All really good questions Bo! I can't say I have many answers. I'm trying to specialize during an incredibly busy time of my life. Hindsight may be the only way to evaluate my true preparedness.

    And just to throw in a few opinions, I think specialization is one of the biggest challenges on the horizon for our profession. Societal health care needs are changing and we need to "move to where the puck is going to be". For me that means, specializing 'smarter' and more quickly than the classic physician model. We do this to some degree but I think there is room to move beyond existing life span and physicality classifications. Community intervention skills, prevention/wellness, and metabolic syndromes don't fit neatly anywhere but all will be paramount in addressing future health needs. I would love to see PT move strategically to influence those aspects of the emerging health care paradigm.

  2. so when are you starting the "misc."SIG?

  3. I sat for the OCS exam last year, but didn't do it to make myself more marketable- that's what the CSCS was for :)

    I sat for the exam because I wanted to attain the highest clinical certification that was available in my area of care, orthopedics. I think our clinical preparation in school is only long enough to wet our appetites in select settings (acute, rehab, outpatient, maybe peds or homecare). Some graduate and still don't know what path they want to follow.

    I always said that I liked PT because of it's flexibility. If you get bored in one area, you can easily switch to another setting. This is in stark contrast to the medical model where you graduate, go through several years of residency, sit for the board exam, and then stay in your clinical area until you retire (mostly). I think our field has expanded so much, so fast, and with so much more research now that ever before, we can no longer afford to be "jacks of all trades, and masters of none". I think with the changing healthcare environment and to better service our patients/clients and communities we have to specialize. Would you go see an orthopedic surgeon or a internist who was not board certified?

    I think our clinical education model has to evolve to where the last rotation is a year long residency leading to board exams and specialization. UPitt currently has their final rotation as a year long clinical.

    So I took the exam to fulfill my part in where I think the profession should be moving towards. As far as if it taught me anything new or just reinforced what I already knew, BOTH! I don't think the OCS makes you a great clinician. That only comes with practice and hands on course work. What the OCS does is make you into a great diagnostician. It sharpens your critical thinking skills and exposes you to conditions you may not otherwise know about. Now when I sit in an eval and do my assessment I have many more options of what the person's problem may be and where I should take my exam to explore the problem.

    When came to studying for the exam I read the Current Concepts In Orthopedics and Mark Dutton's book, Orthopaedic Examination, Evaluation, and Intervention cover to cover. The problem is that I learned everything in my own paradigm of clinical experience. In retrospect I would have preferred a residency model where I would have sharpened my didactic and treatment skills in a mentored and structured environment.

  4. I recently received my NCS. Although my motivation to sit for the exam was entirely internal, I have now realized that it makes me more marketable in ways I inititially didn't anticipate. It will have a positive impact on my career in the long term.

    When I took the exam, I worked in inpatient rehabilitation for a large rehabilitation hospital system. While they did support me in taking the examination as a part of our clinical ladder progression, it will not change my marketability for work. However, I have recently returned to grad school full time for a PhD. Having my NCS is my declaration that I am a clinician first. My preparation for the exam (which for the NCS, was almost entirely peer-reveiwed article based) helped learn about the current state of research in the field, which will help drive my research in the future. In addition, the NCS will make me more marketable in my application for a PODS scholarship and for faculty positions in PT programs in the future.

    I admit, that last year I thought of the exam as just something to cross off my list as the next logical action when pursuing excellence in inpatient neurorehabilitation. Now I realize that I probably don't even realize how much it will help me in the long term.


  5. It's awesome that being Board certified is opening up new doors for you Miriam! Maybe you can tell us all about the PODS process sometime. Also for self serving reasons, I'd love to hear from you and Allen about 'the final countdown'. How did your life and habits change in the last 50 days before the exam? And Miriam, what journals were most relevant to the actual exam content?

  6. I agree with Allen these advance certification should be the future for our profession. As times continue to change the need for us as clinician should also be raised. I sat for my SCS in 2009 to make myself the best possible clinician and help set an example for others to follow to keep striving for the hightest standards.