I fear kinesiology is a doomed profession.
With the number of college and university kinesiology programs currently just in Ontario, we graduate WAY more potential kinesiologists than physiotherapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, medicine, or osteopathy combined!
Our professional ranks should be growing exponentially every year! In fact, they are barely holding and, unfortunately, some years they are even contracting.
The decisions by kinesiology program graduates and former licensed kinesiologists to move on to other health professions are in no way made lightly. I’ve spoken to many kins in different stages of their career who have been quite upset when needing to consider such a big leap away from their desired career path.
Often, in the early years, parents can be a big influence in decision making. Sometimes well-meaning parents are quick to discourage a career as (what they understand to be) a fitness instructor or a personal trainer and push their young adult kids into further education for a better understood, and (yes, I'll say it!), a more respectable profession like academia, medicine, physiotherapy or chiropractic.
But – hold up for a second!
Are we overlooking the fact that, with just four years of post secondary education, we are able to become fully licensed health care professionals? What a unique opportunity! Two, four, six or even eight more years of education is actually unnecessary! Time is expensive and, well, so are tuition fees! This is a very distinct advantage of just needing a kin undergraduate degree to qualify for professional practice.
So – what’s the problem here?
After over 50 years of established kinesiology academic programs and now over six years as recognized health care professionals in Ontario we are STILL suffering from an identity crisis. We don’t know who we are, we don’t know who are clients should be, and we certainly aren’t standing up for ourselves when speaking with other health care professionals!
Many of these other health care professionals I might point out – graduated with kin degrees themselves and then went on to complete another academic program (often because well, what does a kin DO anyway?) ….
Kinesiologists have been weakly asserting themselves as disease prevention experts in the past few years. This target is WAY too wide for the public to understand what we do! It also places our profession in association with disuse, disease, and dysfunction rather than with a focus health, vitality, movement, activity, and wellbeing.
How do we solve this?
In order to survive, kinesiologists would be wise to:
1) Collaborate with our professional association to define a short, specific target message for our profession as, for example, 'Movement Experts' and advertise this tag line widely to our membership, our College, the public, and other health care professionals;
2) Make a sharp distinction that kinesiologists are experts in therapeutic exercise - there are other degrees, diplomas, titles, certifications and regulatory bodies available for related areas such as disability management, ergonomics, yoga, pilates, strength coaching, life/health/wellness coaching, nutrition, etc.;
3) Direct our continuing education, training, and skills development exclusively towards gaining expertise in our own target market;
4) Advertise ourselves as THE experts in our chosen niche - we must be recognized in our own communities as movement experts with unique client management skills in, for example, balance and stability, blood sugar regulation, bone health, spine health, etc.;
5) Demonstrate consistent, objective, and measurable results for our clients at every session;
6) Get involved in and support our professional association to build pride in our chosen careers; and
7) Insist that our family, friends, clients, employers, and other health care professionals refer to us as kinesiologists – not personal trainers, physiotherapists, or physiotherapy assistants;
8) Stand up for our profession by demanding a minimum hourly rate, a minimum per session rate, a minimum revenue share, and a minimum base salary.
I think it's the only way we are going to survive ....