As we work with interns and co-op students from various colleges and universities across Canada, we realize that, once these super bright stars finish school, they believe they are finished school. That’s it. They should know it all. What a surprise to them when they are thrust out into the world and feel like they have very limited skills with which to start navigating the clinical world!
I’m sure you remember this feeling well. Or maybe you are in this spot right now? How do you go from being an academic studying machine to a professional clinical critical thinker? How do you translate what you learned in labs and lecture halls (ok, I realize these may have largely been using Zoom (sorry)!) into something you can quickly draw upon at the moment with a client standing right in front of you?
Ok, I get it - this blog may be just a little biased - after all, I do own a continuing education company!
One of the biggest challenges we face as kin grads is that we come from an incredibly diverse educational background. I think this is a positive rather than a negative. Kinesiology programs across Canada are incredibly diverse. You won’t learn the same things from one school to the next. That could be considered a drawback or a real benefit to the field of kinesiology. I believe it is a benefit. Look how broad our learning can be!
But this diversity places a huge responsibility on a future student to understand the program that they are entering and the skills they may have (or may not have!) upon graduation. Researching your undergraduate choice carefully is a smart move. Graduate school may help you to refine your learning and help you focus more closely on working with your ideal clients.
Does it make sense to pay for an additional two years of formal education in a professional masters program or a research or theory based masters program? Will this give you the skills to become an amazing employee or to start your own business? Maybe.
Do your post grad professors have the clinical experience to help you with evidence based clinical reasoning and decision-making for the people you most want to work with in practice? Maybe.
If they don’t have these skills, will they be able to direct you into practical experiences and professional post graduate training opportunities that will teach you these critical abilities? Maybe.
As you are thinking about your path ahead and what continuing education will look like for you, here are some key areas to keep in mind:
When you invest in your professional education, you want to be wise about where you put your money. Before taking the leap and opening your wallet, take some time to figure out where your knowledge gaps are. Once you’ve identified this, consider whether you could explore this area in small sections, or if you are ready for a big plunge.
When you are exploring a new topic area or diving deeper into a particular area of interest, start by searching for blogs, podcasts and books to help guide you. These are free or relatively inexpensive investments of your time and money.
By looking around, you are sure to find thought leaders, top researchers, professors, teachers and influencers in the very subject area that you are interested in. Find the people who are passionate, focused, have a large following and are well recognized in your area of exploration. Ask others who you should follow, listen to and read about.
When you select a course that looks interesting, make sure that you know how you learn best. Do you absolutely need an in person experience? Are you more comfortable learning on your own time and going at your own pace?
There are many ways to begin working at this knowledge shift from books to real life. What if you never had the opportunity to work with clients while at school? Don’t panic. Just ask.
Look for someone who has at least 7 to 10 years more experience than you. Find someone who is working in the area of our profession that interests you. Call them up! Email them! DM them! Connect with and message them on LinkedIn!
Mentors are happy to help younger and less experienced clinicians. You may be able to set up one or two hours a month, perhaps find an opportunity to shadow their work day, and come to them with very specific questions about their career choices by email.
I leave one to two hours each week open for these kinds of conversations. I find chatting with students and fellow practitioners enjoyable, energizing and very enlightening. The topics we cover together often find their way into a blog post like this one, an additional section getting added to one of our courses, or a reunion with a friend or professional connection that I can introduce to the person I am speaking with.
We move through many transitions throughout our life: school to work, entry level to mid and higher level jobs, shifts to other industries and moving on up the ladder until we decide when and if we will retire. You’ll never stop learning throughout your entire career. In your early career years, be open to new experiences, say yes more than you say no, and ask questions - lots of questions! Continuing your education will bring new opportunities, you’ll build your professional network, you’ll shift jobs and perhaps move into an entirely new industry within our beautifully large scope of practice.
Kinesiology is huge. Don’t let that scare you - embrace it with a sense of curiosity and adventure. And if you need help? Just ask.
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