On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Dr. Stephanie Gray on the show to discuss bone health. Dr. Stephanie Gray, DNP, MS, ARNP, ANP-C, GNP-C, ABAAHP, FAARFM, is a functional medicine provider who helps men and women build sustainable and optimal health and longevity so that they can focus on what matters most to them. She is co-founder of Your Longevity Blueprint nutraceuticals with her husband, Eric. They own the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic in Hiawatha, Iowa.
In this episode, we discuss:
-What is functional medicine and integrative medicine?
-Hormones that impact your bone density as you age and how to find your deficiencies
-The difference between natural and synthetic hormones
-Your Longevity Blueprint: a guide to mastering each of your body systems
-And so much more!
Your Longevity Blueprint Free gift: 10% off using code healthy10
For more information on Dr. Gray
Stephanie Gray, DNP, MS, ARNP, ANP-C, GNP-C, ABAAHP, FAARFM, is a functional medicine provider who helps men and women build sustainable and optimal health and longevity so that they can focus on what matters most to them! She has been working as a nurse practitioner since 2009. She completed her doctorate focusing on estrogen metabolism from the University of Iowa in 2011. Additionally, she has a Masters in Metabolic Nutritional Medicine from the University of South Florida’s Medical School. Her expertise lies within integrative, anti-aging, and functional medicine. She is arguably one of the midwest's’ most credentialed female healthcare providers combining many certifications and trainings. She completed an Advanced fellowship in Anti-Aging Regenerative and Functional medicine in 2013. She became the first BioTe certified provider in Iowa to administer hormone pellets also in 2013. She is the author of the FNP Mastery App and an Amazon best-selling author of her book Your Longevity Blueprint. She is co-founder of Your Longevity Blueprint nutraceuticals with her husband, Eric. They own the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic in Hiawatha, Iowa.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hi, Dr. Stephanie Gray. Welcome to the podcast. I'm happy to finally have you on. This is taken forever between the two of our schedules.
Stephanie Gray: 00:09 Thank you for having me on. I'm excited to speak with you today.
Karen Litzy: 00:12 Yeah, I'm very excited. And we had met, Gosh, last year, maybe
Stephanie Gray: 00:17 October.
Karen Litzy: 00:18 Yeah, October of last year. Holy Cow. Yes. Well, I'm very excited to have you on because when we met at unfair advantage and I remember hearing your story and hearing you speak and I thought I need to talk to this woman because I think she's doing some really great work, so I'm happy to have you on and share all about what you're doing. We'll talk about your book, the longevity blueprint in a little bit, but first, can you let the audience know a little bit about your journey from your BS to your MS in nursing to doctorate to all these certifications and how that happened in the why behind it?
Stephanie Gray: 00:58 Sure. Well, maybe the short version is that I was born and raised in the Midwest and I grew up in a very healthy family and I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with my life as many people are I’m sure. My parents always took us to see a chiropractor, not a regular doctor. They were self employed, had a really high deductible. So they wanted to keep us healthy and growing up, I wanted to get into medicine. I kind of grew up wanting to be a doctor. I'd play with my doctor Kit, but I didn't necessarily want to prescribe drugs. And so I thought, well maybe I'll go into nursing. Right? So I went through the nursing program at University of Iowa and I love nurses, man, they're so important. We have a shortage, we need more nurses. But I thought I wanted to have more autonomy and more independence and I wanted to still be able to diagnose and treat patients.
Stephanie Gray: 01:43 And so I did continue on to become a nurse practitioner and I ended up going through the master's and then the doctorate program. And I still was a little unsatisfied. I felt like, man, there's gotta be more to life than prescribing medications. Right? Nursing is a more holistic approach in general. And that's why I'm biased to nurse practitioners as primary care providers because I think they do provide a more holistic approach. I wanted some additional trainings so that I could incorporate nutrition, that I would have some credentials behind recommending things other than drugs. So I did also then pursue a master's in metabolic nutritional medicine, which taught me a lot about, you know, using supplements and herbs and whatnot, which I heavily applied in my practice. And then I also did complete the advanced fellowship in anti-aging, regenerative and functional medicine which helped me tremendously. I learned a lot about use of bioidentical hormones as well. And I really just became on fire for integrative and functional medicine and thought, this is it. This is what, especially my community in Iowa needs, because there weren't a lot of providers offering this sort of care. So that's, I guess that's kind of my story.
Karen Litzy: 02:50 Well, that's a great story. I love it. Now you mentioned functional medicine and Integrative Medicine. Can you kind of help us out and talk about what those branches of medicine are?
Stephanie Gray: 03:01 Sure. So integrative medicine combines or integrates conventional medicine with natural, uneven, complimentary forms of medicine. It's not, I'll say functional medicine also really more works to get to the root cause of the problem. That's kind of more of the definition of functional medicine. And I use both in my practice. I use functional medicine to kind of discover the why, but I also use integrative medicine because there is a time and place for medication use. Sometimes patients do need antibiotics or surgery. I've had to partake in them myself. But I want to provide my patients with the best of all worlds combined. So do I think chiropractic is important? Yes. Acupuncture? Yes. Use of supplements. Yes. Medications, all of the above. I think the major difference in the analogy I use with my patients that I did not create a colleague, Patrick, he mentions conventional medicine as being more of the fire department approach. Right? We need conventional medicine. If you have a big bad ugly tumor or whatnot, you need the fire department to put that out to remove it. But conventional medicines tools are drugs and surgery. Functional medicine is a little different. We described that in my practice as being more of like a carpenter approach and that's what I describe in my book. Really helping to repair and rebuild the body, figure out why the fire happened in the first place and try to get to that root cause of the problem, not just provide a bandaid approach.
Karen Litzy: 04:16 Right. And that's a great analogy. Thank you for that. That’s definitely clear. It makes functional and integrative medicine a little bit clearer for everyone. Hopefully. So now I mentioned the book longevity blueprint and again we'll talk about that a little bit later, but there's a chapter in the book, Chapter Four where you discuss the importance of fixing nutritional deficiencies and specifically when it comes to our bones. So as mainly women, we all know as we get older and as we go through menopause, our hormones change and bone density can change along with that. So what nutrients I guess are specifically important for our bones?
Stephanie Gray: 05:09 So I'll discuss several nutrients. So many women think calcium is a number one most important nutrient for their bones. And the truth is that your bones need a lot more than calcium. So vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K2 and strontium are all nutrients that I recommend to my patients. I mentioned vitamin D in several different chapters of my book and that as many people know, helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the foods you eat. And it helps with bone remodeling. Maybe I don't know how deep we should get into that. Maybe you shouldn't, but without enough magnesium though calcium can also collect in the wrong places in soft tissues and cause arthritis. And so magnesium is just as important as calcium. There have been several studies of women with Osteopenia or osteoporosis showing they're actually not deficient in calcium deficient, they’re deficient in magnesium yet.
Stephanie Gray: 05:58 What's the number one most prescribed supplement? Menopausal woman. Again, it's calcium. I personally have had a kidney stone and they are not fun. So calcium can not only gain weight, it can cause bone spurs, but it can cause kidney stones. It can calcify our arteries. We don't want it getting absorbed in to the wrong places of our body. And that's where vitamin K2 comes in also. So vitaminK is really overlooked nutrient. It's one of the four fat soluble nutrients. So it really helps prevent calcium from accumulating in our vessels. And it can even, some people believe can help remove dangerous calcifications too. We know that low levels of k2 can directly be related to poor bone mineral density. So I like analogy.
Stephanie Gray: 06:45 So here's another analogy on what vitamin K2 really does, and vitamin D. So vitamin D is the doorman that opens the door for calcium to enter the bloodstream. But once it's in the bloodstream, it could go anywhere. So I think if K2 is being that usher that's going to direct the calcium from the lobby, if we think of a hotel or whatnot, directing him to the appropriate seat in our bone matrix. So do we need vitamin D? Yes. Do we need magnesium? Yes. We also need vitaminK2. So there are different sort or different types of vitamin K. So vitaminK is broken down to K1 and K2. So if you are purchasing a supplement, if it just says vitaminK , you don't necessarily know what you're getting.
Stephanie Gray: 07:26 You want to make sure that the label is really differentiating if specifying what is in that product. So vitamin K1 isn't as much needed to be supplemented. It's the deficiency is pretty rare. It's found in leafy Greens. Hopefully you're all getting your leafy Greens. But vitamin K2 comes from very specific foods and also bacterial synthesis. So think of it. Think of yourself as you know, if you don't have a healthy gut, unfortunately your body's not going to be able to convert. K1 to K2 in the gut if you've taken antibiotics, whatnot, if you have a lot of food sensitivities and gut inflammation. And so you really want to think about consuming foods with K2 and possibly supplementing in that as well. So vitamin K2 comes from fermented soybeans, which many of us probably are not consuming and also from the fat milk and organs of grass fed animals.
Stephanie Gray: 08:16 So things like egg yolk, butter, and even liver with why we're coming, we're becoming more vitamin K deficient is that you are where you're what you eat, eat. So if you've heard of what Michael Poland has said, and I think that's really true with K2. So when we removed animals from the pasture, right? If we don't eat animals that are eating greens, they're not getting the K2 themselves and then we're not getting it from our products. So you want to make sure you are eating grass fed animals and think of wild game. Wild game is really what's can usually consuming the ingredients. So try to consume more pheasant, duck rabbit, venison, elk, or wild Turkey. I mean these are things that we don't all have access to, but that would actually help increase our K2 levels. So if you can't get some of those foods into your diet, then you could consider supplementing that.
Stephanie Gray: 09:06 It could literally again consume the fermented soy beans. But MK7 has a pretty long half life, longer than MK4. So I recommend my patients take MK7, MK4 is actually extracted from a tobacco plant, which I don't like either, sometimes will come from fermented soybeans, geranium or chickpea. And the source that we use for our production is chickpea. It has a longer half life, so a single daily dose can provide longer protection. So many of my patients, we're putting on 45 90 or even 180 micrograms of MK7 per day. It's great to incorporate foods that have, you know, consumed grass Greens. You hit the chlorophyll to get the vitamin K and to have a great healthy gut that convert can indicate too, but if you can't, and supplementing with MK7 is what I recommend.
Karen Litzy: 09:56 Yeah. And, just so people know, are you doing blood tests on people to find these levels? I just want to point that out so that people listening are like, well, I'm just going to go buy all this stuff, but you have to go and be evaluated first.
Stephanie Gray: 10:15 Yeah. So in my book in chapter four I talk about, well, every chapter of the book discusses a functional medicine testing option that's available. And chapter four is all about examining micronutrient deficiencies. Which even my patients who eat organic, who grow their own food in their backyard are still nutritionally deficient because our food sources are just not as nutrient dense as they used to be. I mean, the magnesium content in our foods has been on a decline since the 1950s. It keeps going down and down and down, which is very sad. But because of that, we can see that evidenced on a test that we run on our patients. So one of the first tests for my patients with osteoporosis or Penia that we would run is this nutritional analysis, which is looking at vitamin, mineral, amino acid, antioxidant, and even Omega levels. And if you have the access to a functional medicine practitioner, definitely I would recommend getting this test because then you don't have to guess how much magnesium, how much do I need? It's better to really get the test to see what you need.
Karen Litzy: 11:12 Right. Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. And I just wanted to point that out to people so that they know. I guess also, are there any dangers of taking these vitamins if you don't need them?
Stephanie Gray: 11:28 So vitaminK to a high dose just can cause blood thinning. So if patients are taking anticoagulants, if they're on medications like Warfarin, you know, Coumadin, then this could potentiate those effects at really high dosages. So if you're listening to this and you want to take some K2, you probably need it. But talk to your doctor or nurse just so that they know so that they can monitor your levels. So that would the biggest, biggest side effects.
Stephanie Gray: 12:04 The last nutrient for bone mineral density that I recommend to my patients is strontium. This was one of the first minerals that I really learned about for bone density. So I heavily used it initially even before I learned about the importance of K2. There have been randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trials showing that strontium in a dose of about one gram per day could be equally as effective as a lot of the bisphosphonate medications without getting those nasty side effects. But I have seen this be effective in my patients too. Granted, I'm recommending they take minerals, optimize their hormones, reduce their stress, exercise, right? So all of those interventions are going to have an additive effect for improving bone density. But strontium can be very, very helpful for bone density as well.
Karen Litzy: 12:48 Nice. All right, so we have vitamin D, vitaminK2, strontium and magnesium.
Stephanie Gray: 12:56 And then calcium of course calcium. I don't put calcium on the top of the list, but yes.
Karen Litzy: 13:01 But it's there. Okay. All right. Now you mentioned hormones for a quick second there, but is there value in optimizing hormones for bone density?
Stephanie Gray: 13:13 You Bet. So about 25 well, I think it's 27% of women over 50 can have osteoporosis, right? Like a fourth of those patients of that population, which is pretty scary. Yeah. And I'll go 40% have osteopenia. There's also, I'm referencing women over 50 so what's the other common dominator for women over 50 usually you're going through menopause around that declining and this, the danger here is that this can increase risk for fractures. Of course, Osteoporosis Foundation says at 24% of those with hip fractures die within a year. That's, that's terrible. Very cool. So absolutely, I run a hormone clinic and I strongly believe that improving estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone levels in women can help with bone density. And I can talk a little, I can go into depth with each of those hormones.
Karen Litzy: 14:06 Yeah, I think I would like a little bit more in depth conversation on that and also the difference between synthetic and natural hormones.
Stephanie Gray: 14:15 Sure, sure. So maybe first we'll talk a little bit about estrogen. So estrogen literally helps with a proper bone remodeling process. Progesterone helps promote osteoblastic activity. So osteoblast help build your bones while osteoclast break it down, right? So progesterone is going to help with the bone builders and testosterone has been proven to actually stimulate new bone growth and inhibit or block the osteoclastic that breaking down activity. Progesterone, I've even been heard called one time I heard it called a bone trophic hormone. Like it literally seems to promote bone formation, which is wonderful. So it's one of the first hormones I'll start my patients on even before their menopausal many peri-menopausal or younger are taking progesterone. And when I mentioned testosterone for women, some women kind of look at me sideways like, well I don't want to grow a beard or I don't think I need to.
Stephanie Gray: 15:12 But actually it's extremely important if you even think of how testosterone helps with muscle mass, it can help strengthen the patient also, right? To improve balance, to minimize falls. Testosterone is great for many reasons. In my book I actually mentioned a study. I feel so strongly about how important testosterone can help really because of the study, because I've seen this, testosterone has shown an 8.3% improvement in bone mineral density, which is like unheard of. It's just dramatic. I've had patients who have received hormone replacement therapy, not overnight, but over a year, go from having osteoporosis, Osteopenia to even having normal bone density because after a year, their bones are improving and that is amazing. But conventional medicine, many times putting patients on drugs, we're just hoping that they don't have a decline. We're just hoping that they stabilize, not that they actually build bone density and hormones can really help do that.
Stephanie Gray: 16:08 But in reference to your other question, anytime we talk about hormones, the cancer word is going to come up. So that's where I can differentiate between the synthetics and the naturals. And in my book in chapter six actually show the molecular structure of synthetic hormones like I synthetic progestin and natural progesterone aesthetic is faster on molecule and natural testosterone cause the hormones really need to fit like a key fitting in a key hole, right? And that's what the molecular structure of natural or bioidentical hormones are. I mean, they should fit like a key fitting in and thus caused your side effects. So most of the studies that showed hormones cause cancer were studies like the women's health initiative study, which was done on a lot of women, but they use synthetic horse urine and they use Premarin.
Stephanie Gray: 16:54 That's literally what Premarin stands for, pregnant Mare's urine. So naturally I try to not replicate what was done in that study with my patients. I don't want to use synthetic hormones. I don't want to use oral estrogen either. That means estrogen taken by mouth in a pill form, right? Which is going to have to be cleared through the gut and the liver. So who was trained through, I should say in addition to the fellowship program that I went through was bio t, they're a hormone pellet company. They're the biggest hormone pellet company in the nation who very well trained their providers and their practitioners and they keep us up to date on all the current research and what's happening in Europe as well with hormones. And so they strongly believe that hormone is given an appellate version, which is an actual subcutaneous little implant that we put under the fatty tissue, kind of in the lower back.
Stephanie Gray: 17:44 Upper bottom area is by far the safest. And that's what we're going for with our patients, right? We want to improve on density. We want them feeling better. We want to give them the safest version of the safest dosage. And so pellet therapy specifically is what can improve bone density the most. But again, we're using natural hormones that are plant-based, not synthetic. They should bind to your hormone receptors appropriately. And therefore the risks of, you know, what were shown in the women's health initiative study just can't be compared to what practitioners like myself use. Cause we're using natural hormones, not the synthetics and not by mouth.
Karen Litzy: 18:19 And so what are the side effects or the downside of using these natural hormones versus a synthetic?
Stephanie Gray: 18:26 Sure. So all of us are already making, well we should be making hormones, right? Which when we grow up we go through adolescence, our hormones peak and then in our twenties and thirties and forties and 50s we start seeing this decline. So really if hormones are dosed appropriately, patients shouldn't have side effects. However, if you think of younger women when they're cycling, sometimes before bleeding they may have some fluid retention or a little bit of breast tenderness or whatnot. And sometimes those symptoms can reoccur as we give patients hormones. The goal is that those would be very short lived. They wouldn't last once we refined the dose. But too much of estrogen can definitely cause fluid retention, breast tenderness, potentially some weight gain. Too much testosterone could cause acne, oily skin, hair growth. Too much. Progesterone can make you feel a little tired. Most menopausal women need help sleeping. So they like that effect, kind of calms them down. Or if women are real PMSing they need or have anxiety, they need some progesterone to calm them down. But we don't want to overdose patients. Right? We don't want to get them to high levels of the hormones, but we want to give them high enough levels that will protect their bones, that will help them sleep. Right. That will provide benefit.
Karen Litzy: 19:34 Are there instances of cancer with the natural hormones?
Stephanie Gray: 19:41 So there are always instances of cancer? I can't say definitively that. No, I've never seen it. I'd never had a patient ever have cancer. But from my experience, they're very rare. And Bio T are great to have as a resource because they track all of that. I mean, they're tracking all these hundreds and hundreds of thousands of patients with pellets and they're tracking the rights and if they confidently say the rates are extremely low.
Karen Litzy: 20:07 Well, you know, cause we wanna give the listeners sort of like a balanced view of everything. So we want to give the, you know, as you know, and I'm sure this is the exact questions that your patients probably ask you.
Stephanie Gray: 20:23 Yes.
Karen Litzy: 20:25 Or hopefully that's what they ask you. Let's put it that way, So now talking about these hormones, how would one know if they are low on these hormones?
Stephanie Gray: 20:37 Good question. Really get tested. Does every postmenopause woman with osteoporosis need testosterone? No, I can't say that I'm speaking to what has helped my patients. But the beauty of functional integrated medicine is that we personalize treatment, right? We test hormone levels to see what our patients need and we test them at the beginning of therapy and through the therapy and annually, right. To make sure we're not under or overdosing our patients. So, I recommend that women, even young women, and I should say men too, but we're kind of speaking to women today, get their hormone levels tested in their twenties, thirties, forties. Right? So they can get a baseline. They can track changes. So they start to feel different, start to feel something has gone awry, we can compare to see where their hormones were before. I think that's really important. But basic blood tests can tell you where your hormone levels are.
Stephanie Gray: 21:27 And now that's for postmenopausal women and for men. Now if you're younger, another test that I utilize in my practice is saliva hormone testing. So for younger women whose hormones fluctuate, whose hormones fluctuate on a daily basis, many times I'll have them spit into a tube every couple of days over the course of a month so we can really see what's happening. Maybe they're getting headaches for population or maybe they're getting headaches before bleeding or having pms or whatnot. If we can correlate their labs with their symptoms, then we know exactly what's happening, which hormones fluctuation is triggering that, and then we can intervene appropriately. So that's the beauty of testing and not guessing. Really being able to examine on paper what's happening and match it with what the patient's plan.
Karen Litzy: 22:09 And with osteoporosis or Osteopenia, let's say you are getting tested when you're younger to find out, you know, what are you deficient in vitamin or mineral wise and where are your hormones levels at? Can you through this process help to let's say ward off osteoporosis or Osteopenia even if it's a genetic thing within your family.
Stephanie Gray: 22:40 I guess the easy answer there would be sure. That would be the goal of course. So we want to ward off all chronic disease.
Karen Litzy: 22:47 Yeah, exactly.
Stephanie Gray: 22:49 I'm sure there could be some rare genetic disorder. I'm not aware of that. Maybe, you know, we couldn't influence, but yes, that would absolutely be the goal is intervene soon. Absolutely.
Karen Litzy: 23:03 Got It. And is there anything else when you're seeing patients coming to you with Osteopenia, osteoporosis, anything else that you're looking at or any other treatments that you may suggest? So that if anyone is listening to this, and let's say they are concerned that maybe they have osteoporosis or Osteopenia or they are post-menopausal or reaching that post-menopausal phase and they want to go to their doctor and they want to ask them about these tests, is there anything else aside from what we've already talked about that you would suggest?
Stephanie Gray: 23:37 Oh, all kinds of things. So I'm back to the micronutrient deficiency possibility. Well, especially if that occurs, we're going to be looking at diet with the patient, right? I had a young woman my age who was drinking like six or seven cups of coffee per day. And I said, you know, that's just basically leaching minerals from your bones, right? It's a diuretic. It's essentially robbing you of all important nutrients, even nutrients you're supplementing with. So you still need to examine diet with all of our patients and make sure that we're eating well. Right? And not just drinking tons of carbonated beverages or caffeine or whatnot. So definitely looking at diet is important. Sometimes we do look at heavy metal toxicity with our patients, with these patients specifically. I don't want to say it's rare, but it's much more common and more easy to treat the patients, you know, by fixing the nutritional deficiencies and the hormones.
Stephanie Gray: 24:32 But there are times where it is really important to look at heavy metals as well. And then I definitely always ask my patients about their stress, right? So if they have low hormone levels, that's part of that's natural, right? Your hormones are going to decline as you age, but you're super stressed out. Stress is your body's biggest hormone, hijacker stresses not helping your situation or your bombs. So we do need to think about lifestyle and really getting stressed under control, deep breathing, Yoga, meditation, and then examine if they're doing weight bearing activity as well. Yeah, of course. Needs to start really young, right? You build your phone mineral density in your 20s. So know that needs to start at a very young age. But I do want to make sure my patients are exercising as well.
Karen Litzy: 25:20 Awesome. Well, I think that gives us a really nice holistic view of kind of looking at Osteopenia and osteoporosis from sort of bridging the gap really between that functional medicine and traditional medicine. As a physical therapist, I often get patients referred to me for osteoporosis to do those exactly what you said, those weight bearing exercises, stress reduction, things like that. And so it's good to know that as a physical therapist that we can team up with other healthcare professionals with our patient's wellbeing at the center.
Stephanie Gray: 25:54 Absolutely, I would say that that's also a belief for functional medicine, that we need interdisciplinary care for our patients. You know, I don't have time during my visits to teach patients exercise for strength and balance. We have our own strengths, but we can work together as a team and really have a multidisciplinary approach for our patients, which is going to provide them with better outcomes.
Karen Litzy: 26:17 Yeah, no question. I agree 100%. And now we had mentioned the book a little bit, it's called the longevity blueprint, can you tell the listeners a little bit more about the book and where they can find it?
Stephanie Gray: 26:30 Maybe I'll go off on a little tangent here and just say why I wrote the book first. I think sometimes patients or consumers may think, oh, so-and-so just wrote a book, but she doesn't know because she hasn't experienced such and such or whatnot. And I'm definitely a provider who has gone through my own health challenges, unfortunately. But fortunately I've used them to my advantage to write this book. So I personally, I've struggled with a lot of things. The most challenging really was fast heart rate or a tachnocardic episodes, which, landed me at Mayo Clinic actually, well, firstly to be in the emergency room, but I eventually landed me at Mayo and conventional medicine's approach to my issue was to take a medication to control my heart rate. And although that could have worked and could have helped, I thought I need to figure out what's happening to me.
Stephanie Gray: 27:25 I needed to figure out why my body's gonna ride, right, why my heart is racing like this. And so around the same time, my husband is actually our office manager at our clinic. We have integrated health clinic in Iowa and he said, you know, you should really use this to try to streamline the process as far as what we recommend to our patients. Can you outline all of what we offer? Because sometimes patients would come see a functional medicine practitioner who only offered gut health or only offered hormone health or detoxing or whatnot. And we really offered the whole Shebang. And so he said, why don't we try to create some sort of analogy to outline all of what we can offer patients really to provide them hope. And so I created this blueprint outlining a functional medicine and all the different principles of what we can offer patients with every organ system of the body.
Stephanie Gray: 28:14 And then I kind of laced through my personal story as well as far as what I had to utilize to regain back my health. And so what I'm doing with the book is I'm trying to at least create this analogy between how we maintain our homes and the compare that to our body, right? So with our home, we have, well I have hair in my drain, right? I don't want hair clogging my drain. You probably mow your lawn. If you have a lawn, you probably change the furnace filters on your home right there. Just things you'd have, you know, you have to do to maintain your home. But we don't always know how to maintain our body. We don't know how to rebuild our body if we're sick or build that health period. And so I'm taking a room in each of our homes, right?
Stephanie Gray: 28:55 And I'm comparing that to an organ system in the body. So chapter one is all about gut health because I believe that gut is the most important piece of our health, most important organ system that we have. And I'm comparing that to the foundation of the home. You have to have the strong foundation upon which to build good health. So then I go chapter by chapter. I'm comparing, you know, organ system. So we were talking a lot about chapter four today and chapter six, chapter six I'm comparing the heating and cooling in your home, right? And you don't want to be too cold, you want to be too hot, you have to have a good thermostat there. But I'm comparing that to the endocrine system in the body. And so I try to help patients rebuild their body, rebuild every organ system using functional medicine principles. So I talk about the tests that are important. I talk about the nutrients that are important and offer patients resources as well.
Karen Litzy: 29:42 That's awesome and that's really great for patients. And just so everyone knows, we'll have a link to the book in the show notes over at podcast.healthywealthysmart.com. So if you're interested and you can go over, click a link and it'll take you right to Stephanie's books, you can read more about it and see if it's for you. And now, Stephanie, I ask everyone this question at the end of the podcast and that is knowing where you are now in your life and in your business, what advice would you give to yourself and in your case, since you have a plethora of degrees, let's say right after your bachelor degree, after you graduated with that bachelor's in nursing.
Stephanie Gray: 30:26 Okay, so that's tough. I think what part of what I've learned through my health situation, I had to change my diet and nutrition and what not, but I also had to reduce stress big time. And so I think one I really recommend to all, well everyone but including the youth, I wish I would have as happy I as I am to be where I am and to have the knowledge I have so that I can ultimately help others. My health suffered along the way and so I could have, you know, done this over a longer period of time and instead of jamming it into fewer years, I think the advice to myself would be to physically set time in my calendar to deep breathe. Deep breathing has been extremely important to me to calm my nervous system. I'm obviously a fast talker and I needed to set aside time for my body to just mend and relax, rest and digest. So I think that's what my advice would be to take time for myself. As hard as it would've been, it probably would've been very difficult for me to do yoga. I probably couldn't have sat still, but I needed it. Yeah. That's probably the advice to just slow down, breathe slowly, take time.
Karen Litzy: 31:39 Yeah. And that's great advice and it's advice that I give to a good majority of my patients as well. And so now is there anything else, I know that you had mentioned that you have an offer for listeners. Do you want to share that now?
Stephanie Gray: 31:54 Sure. So if you're hearing about functional medicine for the first time today, I'd highly recommend you check out my book just because I think that it could provide you hope or hope for a loved one. I think many patients are just so dissatisfied, they keep going to the doctor, they keep being told that everything's normal and they know they don't feel normal and they know there are answers out there and there's a good potential that a functional medicine provider could help you. So I would definitely recommend grab a copy of my book, which is loaded with resources but also look for a functional medicine practitioner in your area. So the code on our website that can be used to purchase the book, although it's available at Barnes and noble and Amazon and everywhere books are sold is yourlongevityblueprint.com. So if you use the code healthy10, you can get 10% off order on the book or any of the supplements like vitamin K2 or anything you feel like you need. But after, you know, when you think of a home being built, there's always a contractor overseeing that process. And, that's what the last chapter of my book is about. Finding your contractor to help you personally as a community build your health. The book can help, but you do need a guide. You need a contractor.
Karen Litzy: 33:01 Well thank you so much. This was great. I love learning different ways to kind of keep myself healthy and as I get older and I start, I mean I think I have a little while left, but kind of entering the phase of my life where a lot of this stuff is going to be very pertinent to me. So I thank you for sharing it all.
Stephanie Gray: 33:25 Well, thank you for having me on. I hope this helps many of your viewers
Karen Litzy: 33:28 And I think it will. Thank you so much Stephanie and everyone out there listening. Thanks so much. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.
Thanks for listening and subscribing to the podcast! Make sure to connect with me on twitter, instagram and facebook to stay updated on all of the latest! Show your support for the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes!
LIVE on the Sport Physiotherapy Canada Facebook Page, I welcome Alex Hutchinson on the show to discuss sports journalism. Alex Hutchinson is National Magazine Award-winning journalist who writes about the science of endurance for Runner’s World and Outside, and frequently contributes to other publications such as the New York Times and the New Yorker. A former long-distance runner for the Canadian national team, he holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia and a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge, and he did his post-doctoral research with the National Security Agency.
In this episode, we discuss:
-How to disseminate findings from complex research studies to a layman audience
-Attention grabbing headlines that commit to a point of view
-Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
-What Alex is looking forward to from the Third World Congress of Sports Physical Therapy
-And so much more!
For more information on Alex:
I’m an author and journalist in Toronto. My primary focus these days is the science of endurance and fitness, which I cover for Outside (where I’m a contributing editor and write the Sweat Science column), The Globe and Mail (where I write the Jockology column), and Canadian Running magazine. I’ve also covered technology for Popular Mechanics (where I earned a National Magazine Award for my energy reporting) and adventure travel for the New York Times, and was a Runner’s World columnist from 2012 to 2017.
My latest book, published in February 2018, is an exploration of the science (and mysteries) of endurance. It’s called ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Before that, I wrote a practical guide to the science of fitness, called Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise, which was published in 2011. I also wrote Big Ideas: 100 Modern Inventions That Have Transformed Our World, in 2009.
I actually started out as a physicist, with a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge then a few years as a postdoctoral researcher with the U.S. National Security Agency, working on quantum computing and nanomechanics. During that time, I competed as a middle- and long-distance runner for the Canadian national team, mostly as a miler but also dabbling in cross-country and even a bit of mountain running. I still run most days, enjoy the rigors of hard training, and occasionally race. But I hate to think how I’d do on an undergraduate physics exam.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:00 Hey everybody. Welcome to the Third World Congress of sports physical therapy Facebook page. And I am your host, Karen Litzy. And we have been doing several of these interviews over the past couple of months in support of the Third World Congress of sports physical therapy. And today we have writer, journalist, author, athlete, Alex Hutchinson who is part of the Third World Congress. He's going to be a part of an informal Q and A and also doing a talk with Greg Lehman, who's already been on. So Alex, welcome to Facebook live.
Alex Hutchinson: 00:37 Thanks very much, Karen. It's great to be here.
Karen Litzy: 00:39 All right, so for those people who maybe aren't as familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Alex Hutchinson: 00:46 Yeah, I mean, I guess when people ask what I do, I say I'm a freelance journalist, but if you kind of drill down a little bit, my subspecialty is like, I'm a sports science journalist or even an endurance sports science journalist, which isn't really a job, but it's effectively what I do. So I write for, for outside magazine and a few other places. There's Canadian running magazine and a newspaper in Canada called the globe and Mail, but mainly outside magazine about the science of Endurance sports, sports more generally, adventure, fitness, health, all those sorts of things. A fairly, fairly broad stuff that interests me, I try and look at the science angle of it. And so that means talking to a lot of athletes and sometimes I talk to coaches, but mostly I talk to researchers who are trying to use, you know, research studies, peer reviewed, you know, placebo-controlled, blinded studies to answer questions that a lot of us have when we exercise, you know, what workout should I do or how should I refuel or these sorts of things.
Karen Litzy: 01:48 Alright, so you're taking, which I think is great. You're taking the research and you're able to disseminate that out into, if you will, the layman's audience.
Alex Hutchinson: 01:57 Yeah, that's the goal. Yeah. And, it's interesting cause I come from a running background. I was a competitive runner. And I was a, a guy interested in science, but there wasn't no, when I was competing in the sort of nineties and early two thousands, it to me at least, it seemed, it wasn't very easy, I didn't even know that there were, you know, thousands of researchers around the world trying to answer these sorts of questions. And I think for me it was in the middle two thousands I started seeing some columns in the New York Times from Gina Kolata. And then from Gretchen Reynolds. Gina Kolata had a column called personal best where she was like looking into the myth that lactic acid causes fatigue. And this was maybe around 2005 and I was like, Holy Mackerel.
Alex Hutchinson: 02:37 And she was interviewing scientists who are asking these questions. And I thought there are scientists who care about lactic acid so that kind of started me on the path of thinking that, realizing there's a body of research out there that wasn't reaching interested lay people like myself. So I started pursuing that. And I think today there's a lot more. Like there were a lot of avenues through which exercise science reaches the lay people. I feel like I'm one of those channels, but it's definitely, there's a lot more options for people now, including directly from scientists themselves in places like Twitter.
Karen Litzy: 03:13 Exactly. And I think that's where I, you know, in the late nineties, mid two thousands, social media certainly wasn't as robust as it is now. And now you have scientists and researchers being encouraged to get onto these platforms and disseminate some of their information, whether it be through tweets or infographics, podcasts, Facebook lives, things like this. So I think the leap from relatively nothing, you know, meaning researchers kind of doing their research but not having perhaps the means to get it out to a wider audience outside of a journal that not every lay person who reads, you know, having such great avenues to disseminate this information. Do you feel like it's made a difference in the general public?
Alex Hutchinson: 04:00 I think it has. It's hard to really evaluate this stuff, but my sense is there's a higher level of literacy or sort of awareness of issues, you know, things like how to fuel that's maybe not just drawn from, I heard it from a guy at the gym or I heard it from my coach who heard it from his coach who is taught by, you know, some guy in 1830 that this is how it works. I mean, I would almost say that we've gone from a place of scarcity to a place of excess that now it's not like you can't find information. Now there's these fire hoses of information just drenching you with 20 different theories. All of which seemed to be supported by scientists about how you should eat, how you should exercise, how you should move, and all these sorts of things.
Alex Hutchinson: 04:45 So I started writing about sports science, let's say 15 years ago or a little less than that. And at that point it was like, let's get the information out there. People don't realize that there's information now. It's like there's all this information, let's curate the information. Let's try and provide people with some judgements about what's reliable and what's not. Why we think that some sources of information are better than others. How each person can evaluate for themselves, whether this is trustworthy. You know, and this is obviously not an easy or there's not like one answer to this study's right and this study's wrong, but, yeah, I feel like my role has shifted a little bit from get the information out there to, okay, maybe I can be a trustworthy source of curation where I'm giving people the information, not necessarily telling them what to think, but saying, here's the evidence. Now you may choose to think this evidence isn't convincing enough for you to switch to the, you know, the Aldana Diet or you may not, but here's, here's what the evidence says it exists.
Karen Litzy: 05:45 Yeah, and that's a great lead into my next question is when we look at quote unquote fake news and we can categorize that as misinformation or disinformation. So misinformation being like you're putting something out there and you think it's good, but you just don't know that the information is bad versus disinformation, which is, I guess we can categorize more as propaganda. So you know, the information's not correct, but you're pushing it out there anyway. So I think it's important to me. Both of those are fake news, but it's important to make that distinction. So as a journalist, how do you navigate this and how important is it for you to get that right?
Alex Hutchinson: 06:27 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, getting it right is important to me and I'm glad you made that distinction because I think that's an important one because you know, fake news in the politicized sense is another way of saying propaganda. And I think that's mostly not what we're dealing with in the exercise or the health space. I mean there, there is actually, I mean, you know, let me take that back a little bit there. There are people who are just selling things to make money who are just, they don't really care whether it's true. They're putting steroids into their stimulants, into their strength supplements because they just want people to feel a boost and they're just flat out lying so those people are bad and they're also not that hard to spot if truth be told, if you're critical, what's tougher is the, you know, what you call misinformation rather than disinformation, which is people honestly believe this.
Alex Hutchinson: 07:20 Like, I tried this diet, it works for me, and therefore everyone should be doing it. And I read this study that shows that people who do this diet, you know, increase their levels of some inflammatory marker and that proves, that confirms my belief. And therefore I'm going to become an evangelist for this. And I'm going to say that everyone who disagrees with me has been paid off by big industry and blah, blah, blah. And sometimes it's not quite that. I mean, I'm caricaturing it, but people don't have strong beliefs that don't have as strong beliefs about, you know, controversies in particle physics cause we don't have personal experience in particle physics when you're talking about health and exercise and eating and things like that. We all have our, we have our experiences. And so we map that on top of whatever evidence we're experiencing, and I include myself in this, you know, my experiences play into what science, scientific research finds plausible.
Alex Hutchinson: 08:12 So that creates a different dynamic. So to answer your actual question, how do I navigate this? Imperfectly like every other human, but my goal in what I write, what I try and do is if I'm writing about a study, this article from my perspective as the one in which I'm able to serve, take the key graph from that study, cut and paste it into my article and then describe what the study was. Here's what they did, here's what they found.
Alex Hutchinson: 08:46 I'll take it a step further than that because my role is to interpret. I'll say, here's what I think this means, but I want to make sure I can give enough information to someone who doesn't think that's what it means is also can also see, well that's what the evidence was. And it's like, well no, I don't agree that that should change my behavior or whatever, but I'm giving them, I want to give people enough information so they understand what the study did and what it found. And then the meaning, if I've given people enough information, they don't have to rely on me telling them that this is what it means even though I am going to tell them what I think it means.
Karen Litzy: 09:16 If you were to give tips to let's say the layman person, say it's like my mom or you know, your friend who knows nothing about science, he doesn't have a phd in physics, and we'll get back to that with you in a second. But what tips can you give to the lay person on how to spot this misinformation, because the thing is when you look at a lot of articles, they're always citing this study, that study, this study.
Alex Hutchinson: 09:47 Yeah. It used to be like, show me the peer reviewed evidence. But yeah, I've slowly realized, you know, and understood that there is a peer reviewed study for everything. And you know, 10 years ago I used to get, I'd see a study saying, you know, hey the, you know, the fruit of this plant, if you take it's going to increase your endurance by 2%. It's like, well if they have a placebo controlled, double blinded study published in a peer reviewed journal, it must be true. I'll write about it. And then, you know, I never did hear about that extractive of such and such a plant. Again, like no one, it never turned out to be a thing. And I sort of finally understand, you know, started to understood the bigger systemic problems, which is that if you have, you know, thousands of Grad students across the country looking for a master's thesis that can be done in six months or an experiment, they can be done in six months.
Alex Hutchinson: 10:33 They're testing all sorts of things. And if it's not interesting, they don't publish it. And if it happens by chance to produce a positive result, then they publish it in a journal. So we get this sort of, there's always public positive studies about everything. What I was saying, which is that just the mere presence of a study isn't enough. So there is no simple template. But I would say there are some guidelines like follow the money. If someone's trying to sell you something, it’s obvious, but it's surprising what a good rule of thumb that is. And it's why we see so much information about pills and technology.
Alex Hutchinson: 11:20 And so little information about, you know, another study showing that sleep is good for you, getting some exercise is good for you because it's very hard to monetize that. And so there's lessons. I don't mean to sound like a patsy or like someone who's, you know, pump promoting my own way of seeing things. But I think there are some sources that are more sort of authoritative than others. And frankly, the mainstream media still does a pretty good job relative to the average blog. Now there are some great blogs out there and you know, and I will say, I started out in this, I set up my own blog on wordpress and I blogged there for five years, just analyzing studies. And then runner's world asked me to bring the blog onto their site and then it got moved outside.
Alex Hutchinson: 12:08 So it's not that there aren't good blogs and you can maybe get a sense of what people's agendas are and what their backgrounds are. But, you know, if I knew that, I know in this highly politicized world, I know that this may be a controversial thing to say, but if I see something in New York Times, I'm more likely to believe it than if I see it on, you know, Joe's whole health blog and I read the New York Times and I get frustrated frequently and I say that now they're getting this wrong. And this is not a full picture of this. Nobody's perfect. But I think that people with credentials and getting through some of those gatekeepers is one way of filtering out some of the absolute crap that you see out there.
Karen Litzy: 12:53 Perfect. Yeah, I think those are very easy tips that people can kind of follow. So sort of follow the money, see who's commissioned said RCT, systematic review. And, oftentimes, especially on blogs, it can be a little tricky because some of them may write a blog and be like, oh, this is really good. But then when you look down, it's like the blog is sponsored by so-and-so,
Alex Hutchinson: 13:18 And that's the reputable people who are acknowledging who's sponsoring them. Then there's the people who are getting free gear, free product or money straight up, but they're not, you know, like there's levels of influence and the people who are disclosing that at least they're disclosing it. But nonetheless, it's, you know, one of the things that I think people often kind of misjudge is when, when someone says that follow, you know, follow the money and the financial influences, finances can influence someone. That doesn't mean that the people who are passing on this message or corrupted or that it's disinformation as you would say that they're deliberately, yeah. I mean, lots of researchers who I really highly respect do excellent research funded by industry. And I think that there's any important information that comes from that research, but I also think that the questions that get asked in industry funded research are different than the questions that you might ask if you just had you know, a free pot of money that wasn't tied to any strings.
Alex Hutchinson: 14:16 If you want to, you know, not to pick on anybody, but if you want to know which proteins are best for building strength and if the dairy industry is going to fund a whole bunch of studies on dairy protein, then you're going to have this excellent body of research that shows that dairy protein is good for building muscle. That doesn't mean it's wrong, it just means that we haven't studied what, you know, vegetable proteins or other forms of meat. There's been less emphasis on those proteins so you get a distorted view of what's good or bad without anybody doing anything wrong. It's just that money does influence the way we ask questions and the answers we get.
Karen Litzy: 14:53 Great. Thank you. Now I had just mentioned about having a phd in physics. That is obviously not me. How did you end up doing your phd in physics and how does this help you when it comes to writing your articles or writing these reviews of RCTs or systematic reviews?
Alex Hutchinson: 15:14 Well, I should first say that if anyone's interested in becoming a science journalist, I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing a phd in physics. It's not the linear path or you know, the path of least resistance. I honestly didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Some advice I got, which I think was good advice to some extent was, you know, if you don't know what you want to do, do something hard because at least you'll prove to people that you can, you know, solve problems and there'll be some transferability of that training. And I think that was true to some extent. And I, you know, so I did physics in Undergrad. I still didn't know what the heck I wanted to do. And I had an opportunity to go do a phd in England, which seemed like a big adventure.
Alex Hutchinson: 15:50 So I went and did a phd there, PhDs there are actually a lot shorter than they are in North America. It's just over three years for my phd. So it wasn't, it wasn't like this sort of, you know, spent my entire twenties on this. Physics was fun, but it just, I could see that the other people in my lab were more passionate about it than I was, that they were, they were just interested. They were passionate about it. And I thought, man, I want to, I want to find something that I'm passionate about. So I ended up in my late twenties saying, okay, well it's been a slice, but I'm going to try something else. And, you know, fortunately I guessed right. And journalism turned out to be fun. Fun for me. I don't write, you know, especially these days if I'm writing about exercise and it's not like I need to know Newton's laws or anything like that or you know, apply the principle of general relativity to exercise.
Alex Hutchinson: 16:35 So there's not a lot of like direct pay off. But I would say that having a scientific training has helped me be willing to speak to scientists and not be intimidated by paper. You know, Journal articles that look very complex and you know, I have the confidence to know that, okay, I don't have a clue what this journal article is saying, but I know if I slow down, if I read it a few times and if I call it the scientist and say, can you explain this to me? I'm not worried. Well, I mean, I don't like looking stupid, but I'm over the idea is like, it's okay. I can call up the scientist. I know enough about scientific papers to know that probably the guy in the office next door to whoever wrote this paper doesn't understand this paper. You know, science is very specialized and so it's okay to just say, explain to me, explain it to me again. Okay. This time, pretend I'm, you know, your 90 year old grandfather and explain it again. And so that allows me, or has helped me write about areas even when I'm not familiar with them and not be intimidated by numbers and graphs and things like that.
Karen Litzy: 17:36 All right. And I would also imagine that going through Phd training yourself, you understand how articles are written, you kind of can look at the design, and you can look at the methods and have a little bit more, I guess confidence in how this study was maybe put together. Versus no training at all.
Alex Hutchinson: 18:03 You've seen how the sausage is made and so you understand the compromise that get made. I will say that it was surprising to me how different the physics processes to the sort of the sports science world in terms of just the factors that are there that are relevant in physics. You’re never dealing with people. And with the sample recruitment and things like that. An Electron is an electron, you know, for the most part. You know, and this is an important to understand is physics aside by looking a lot of studies, I started to see the patterns and started to understand what the functions were, started to understand how to read a paper relatively quickly. How did you know it? For me to find stories, I ended up looking at a lot of journal articles and I can't read every one of them in depth in order to find the ones I wanna write about.
Alex Hutchinson: 18:52 So I have to find ways of, you know, everyone knows you. Yeah, you can read the abstract, but you're not going to get the full picture. You know, you start to learn just by experience, by doing it. That, okay, if I read the introduction, that's where the first three paragraphs are where they're going to give me the context. Because often a study seems very specific and you're like, I don't know what you're talking about. And then they'll give two paragraphs where they're just like, since the 1950s, scientists have been wondering about x, Y, and zed. And then you can go to the conclusions and then, you know, depending on how deep you want to get, you understand where, which part of every paper is written with a specific format and you can figure out where to go with a little experience. And it doesn't require a physics phd or it requires just getting, getting familiar with that particular, you know, subject area.
Karen Litzy: 19:35 Nice. And now, you know, we talked earlier about how, you know, information from researchers went from like a little drip to a fire hose and as far as getting information out to the general public, so because there is so much information available, how do you approach designing your article titles and headlines to ensure you grab attention for the reader. So I think that's a great question directed at the researchers who are maybe thinking of doing a press release or things like that to help promote their article.
Alex Hutchinson: 20:10 Yeah. This is a really interesting question. This isn't one where my thinking has shifted over the last, let's say, decade. So I started out, you know, in print journalism, writing for newspapers and magazines. I still do that, but one of the things in from when you're writing for a newspaper magazine is you don't have control over your headlines. You write the article, the editor writes the headline. And so my experience in that world was always one of frustration being like, I wrote this very carefully nuanced, balanced article. And then the headline is, you know, do this and you'll live till you're a hundred or whatever. It's like, no, that's not what I was saying. It's terrible. And so I got into this sort of reflects of habit you know, just apologizing for the headlines. Like, Oh, you know, when I talked to researchers, I'm so sorry about the headline.
Alex Hutchinson: 20:59 You know, I'm very sophisticated, but you know, that this silly editor wrote the headline and a couple of things help to sort of shift my views a little bit on that. One is the shift to online meant that newspapers and journalists now have a very, very clear idea of who clicks on what. So you understand what it is that gets people's attention. And the second thing is that, you know, when I started my own blog, and then even now, when I blog, I don't have full control of my headlines, but when I was on wordpress, I wrote my own headlines. And when I now as a blogger, I suggest headlines. And so I don't have control, but I am given more input than I used to be on how this article should be conveyed.
Alex Hutchinson: 21:40 And one thing that's really clear is that, what people say they want and what people will do is different. And so I remember looking at when the global mail is the Big News newspaper in Canada. I remember when it first started showing its top 10 most clicked articles. You know, in the transition to digital on its website. And of course, everyone says, I hate clickbait. I want to have sophisticated, nuanced conversations. And then the top 10 articles clicked would all be something to do with Brittany Spears or whatever. You know, this was 10 years ago. And it's like, so people click on, people do respond to clickbait and click bait it's bad. But you know, I sometimes I want like sometimes give talks to scientists about science communication and I'll give some contrast between here's the journal article, you know, here's my headline and the journal article will be something that's so careful that you're not even, it definitely doesn't tell you what the article's going to say.
Alex Hutchinson: 22:36 You're not even entirely sure what the subject is. You know, like an investigation of factors contributing to potentially mitigating the effects of certain exercise modalities. And you're like, I don't know. I don't know what that's about. No one clicks on it. And so it's like that sort of, if a tree falls in the forest, if you write a perfectly balanced nuanced article and nobody reads it, have you actually contributed to science communication? And so one of the things that I found in with headlines that I'd complain about is I would complain about a headline that someone had written for my article and then, and I try to think why am I complaining about this? And it's like, well it's sort of coming out and saying what I was hinting at, I was hinting at, I didn't want to come out and say, you know, overweight people should exercise more or whatever.
Alex Hutchinson: 23:22 Cause that's horrible. No one would say that. But if you sort of read what the evidence that I was shaping my article to be, it'd be like, if you're not getting results from your exercise, maybe you're just not exercising hard enough. I was like, well maybe I need to own the messages. You know, if the headlines to me seems objectionable, maybe it's my article is objectionable and I've tiptoed around it, but I need to think carefully. And if someone reads my article, you know, an intelligent person reads my article and says this in sum it up in seven words, this is what it is, then I need to maybe be comfortable with having that as the headline, even if it's an oversimplification, because the headline is never going to convey everything, all the nuances. There's always caveats, there's always subtleties.
Alex Hutchinson: 24:04 You can't convey those in seven words. That's what the article is for. So I've become much more of a defender, not of clickbait, not of like leading people in with misleading things. But if ultimately the bottom line of your article is whether it's a academic article or a press article is, you know, this kind of weight workout doesn't work and you should be okay with a headline that says that. And yes, people will say, but you forgot this. And then you can say, well, no, that's in the article, but I can't convey all the caveats in the headline. So anyway, that's my, that's my sort of halfhearted defense of attention grabbing headlines in a way.
Karen Litzy: 24:37 Yeah. And if you don't have the attention grabbing headline, like you said, then people aren't going to want to dive into the article. So I was, you know, looking up some of the headlines from outsideonline.com and the first one that pops up is how heat therapy could boost your performance. And you read that and you're like I would want to find out what that means.
Alex Hutchinson: 25:02 And they put some weasel words in there. It's not like heat therapy will change your life. It's how it could boost your performance. And so, and I'm there, it's interesting, I've got conversations with my editor and they, you know, they don't like question headlines. They don't want to be as like, is this the next, you know, a miracle drugs? And then it turns out the answer is no. It's like they feel that's deceptive to the reader. They want declarative headlines that say something. It’s an interesting balance but outside has been, they've had some headlines which were a little, you know, there was one a while ago about trail maintenance and it was like the headline was trail runners are lazy parasites or something like that. And that was basically, that was what the article said. It was an opinion piece by a mountain biker. They got a ton of flack for that and they got a bunch of people who are very, very, you know, I'm never gonna read outside again. It's like, dude, relax. But I understand, but I understand, you know, cause it is a balance there. They want to be noticed and I want my articles to be noticed, but I don't want to do it in a deceptive way.
Karen Litzy: 26:07 Yeah. And I think that headline, how heat therapy could boost. It's the could.
Alex Hutchinson: 26:12 Exactly the weasel word that it's like, it's, I'm not saying it will, but there's certainly some evidence that I described in the article, but it's possible this is something that people are paying or researching and that athletes are trying, so it's, you know, check it out if you're interested.
Karen Litzy: 26:25 Yeah, I mean, I think it's hard to write those attention grabbing headlines because like you said, you can have the best article giving great information, but if it's not enough in the headline for the average person to say, hmm, Nah, Nah, nevermind, or Ooh, I really want to read this now the, I think when you're talking about an online publication, like you said, you now have a very good idea as to who is reading by going into the analytics of your website. So I think that must make it a little bit easier, particularly on things that they're going to catch attention.
Alex Hutchinson: 26:59 And so since I'm working for outside, I don't have access to their analytics though. I can ask them what my top articles were or whatever. And I actually am careful not to ask too much because I think there's a risk of you start writing to the algorithm. I start with, you know, you're like, oh, so if people like clicking on this, I'm going to write another article that has a very similar headlines. So, when I had my wordpress site, I had much more direct access to the analytics and it's a bit of a path to, it forces you to start asking yourself, what am I writing for? Am I writing to try and get the most clicks possible or to do the best article possible? So I actually tell him when I talked to my editor, I'm like I don't want too much information.
Alex Hutchinson: 27:43 I want to know. Sometimes I kind of want to get a sense of what people are reacting to and what aren't. And I can see it on Twitter, which things get more response. But I don't want that to be foremost in my mind because otherwise you end up writing you know, if not clickbait headlines, you write clickbait stories, you know, cause you do get the most attention. Yeah. So I try not to follow it too much and let someone else do that worrying for me.
Karen Litzy: 28:09 Yeah. So instead, I think that's a great tip for anyone who is putting out content and who's disseminating content, whether it be a blog or a podcast, that you want to kind of stay true to the story and not try and manipulate the story. Whether that be consciously or maybe sometimes subconsciously manipulating the story to fit who you think the person who's going to be digesting that information wants.
Alex Hutchinson: 28:34 Yeah. And I know that happens to me subconsciously. You know, it's unavoidable. You're thinking, well, if I write it this way, I bet more people are going to be interested, it happens a little bit, but you want to be aware of it. And especially, I guess if you're, let's say you're someone who's, you know, starting a blog or starting some form of podcast or whatever it is, clicks aren't the only relevant metric and you can get a lot of people to click on something, but if they're left feeling that it wasn't all that great, then you're not gonna, you know, it's better to have half as many people all read something and think that was really substantive and thoughtful and useful than to get a bunch of clicks. But no one had any particular desire to come back to your site.
Karen Litzy: 29:15 Like you don't want to leave people feeling unfulfilled. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not Good. Well great information for both the researchers and for clinicians who are maybe trying to get some of that research out there. So great tips. Now, we talked a little bit about this before we went on air, but in 2018 you've published your book, endure mind body and the curiously elastic limits of human performance. So talk a little bit about the book, if you will, and what inspired you to write it?
Alex Hutchinson: 29:50 Sure. The book is basically, it tries to answer the question, what defines our limits. Like when you push as hard as you can, whether you know you're on the treadmill or out for a run or in, in other contexts, what defines that moment when you're like, ah, I can't maintain, I have to slow down. I have to stop. I have reached my absolute limit. And it's a direct, you know, it's easy to understand where the book came from. I was a runner and so every race I ran, I was like, why didn't I run faster? Like I'm still alive. I crossed the finish line. I've got energy left. Why didn't I, why surely I could have run a little bit faster. And so basically I, you know, I started out with an understanding of a basic understanding of exercise physiology.
Alex Hutchinson: 30:32 And, you know, 15 years ago I thought if I can learn more about VO2 Max and lactate threshold and all these sorts of things, I'll understand the nature of limits and maybe what I could have done to push them back. And about 10 years ago, I started to realize that there was this whole bunch of research on the brain's role in limits. And there've been a whole bunch of different theories and actually some very vigorous arguments about this idea. But this idea that when you reach your limits is not that your legs can't go anymore. It's that in a sense, your brain thinks you shouldn't go anymore than that. Your limits are self-protective rather than reflecting that you're actually out of gas, like a car runs out of gas. And so then I thought I was gonna write a book about how your brain limits you.
Alex Hutchinson: 31:12 And in the end, as you can probably guess, it ended up being a sort of combination of these sorts of things. Like there's the brain, there's the body, they interact in different ways, in different contexts. So I ended up exploring like, you know, we were talking about this before, what is it that limits you when you're free diving? If you're trying to hold your breath for as long as possible, is it that you run out of oxygen after a minute and then how come some people hold their breaths for 11 minutes? And how does that translate to mountain climbing or to running or to riding a bike or to being in a really hot environment or all these sorts of things. So that is what the book is about is, is where are your limits? And the final simple answer is, man, it's complicated and you have to read the whole book.
Karen Litzy: 31:51 Yeah. And we were talking beforehand and I said, I listened to the book as I was, you know, commuting around New York City, which one it would got me really motivated and to want to learn more. And then it also, I'm like, man, I am lazy. There are so many different parts of the book from the breath holding, like we were talking about. And things that I was always interested me are altitude trainings and the how that makes a difference, whether you're training up in the mountains or sea level or in those kind of altitude chambers. Which is wild stuff. And is that, I don't know, is that why people break more records now versus where they were before? Is it a result of the training? Is it, and then, like you said, the brain is involved and so are you just by pushing the limits of yourself physically, but then does the brain adapt to that and say, okay, well we did this, so I'm pretty sure, and we lived, so can we do it again?
Alex Hutchinson: 33:08 And that's actually a pretty good segway to the World Congress of sports therapy. Because the session that I'm talking about it that I'm talking with Greg Leyman is on pain. And, one of the things that I find a topic that I find really interesting is pain tolerance. Do we learn to tolerate more. And so, you know, one of the classic questions that people argue about on long runs is like who suffers more during a marathon, you know, a two and a half hour marathoner or a three and a half hour marathoner. It's like, one school of thought is like, well, it's a three and a half hour marathoner is out there pushing to the same degree as the two and a half hour marathoner, but is out there for longer for almost 50% longer so that that person is suffering longer.
Alex Hutchinson: 33:56 And the counter point, which sounds a little bit maybe elitist or something to say on average, the two and a half marathoner has learned two and half hour marathoner has learned to suffer more as his learning to push closer to his or her limits. Now that's a total generalization because it's not really about how fast you are. It's about how well you've trained, how long you've trained. So there are four marathoners who are pushing absolutely as hard as any two and half hour marathoner. And there are some very lucky two and a half hour marathoners who aren't pushing particularly hard because they were capable of doing it, you know, at two 20 marathon or something. But the general point that I would make and that I think that the reason that I think the research makes is that one of the things that happens when you train, so we all know that you go for that first run and it feels terrible, Eh, you feel like you're gonna die when you keep training, all sorts of changes happen.
Alex Hutchinson: 34:52 Your heart gets stronger. You build new Capillaries, your muscles get stronger. Of course, that's super important. It's dominant. But I think another factor that's on pretend times under appreciated is you learned to tolerate discomfort. You learn to suffer. You learn that feeling when your lungs are bursting and you're panting and your legs are burning, that doesn't mean you're gonna die. It just means you can't sustain that forever, but you can sustain it for a little bit longer. You can choose to keep holding your finger in that candle flame for a little longer. And there's actually quite a bit of evidence showing that as training progresses, you learn not just in the context of whatever exercise you're doing, but in the context of totally unrelated pain challenges like dipping your hand in an ice bucket or having a blood pressure cuff squeezed around your arm.
Alex Hutchinson: 35:35 You learn to tolerate more pain by going through the process of training. And I think it's an interesting area of, I think it tells us something interesting about physical limits cause it tells us that part of the process of pushing back physical limits is pushing back mental limits. But it also tells us something about how we cope with pain and why. For example, why exercise training might be helpful for people dealing with chronic pain, for example, that it's not just endorphins block the pain, it's that you learn psychological coping strategies for reframing the pain and for dealing with it.
Karen Litzy: 36:10 Yeah. As a quick example, two and a half weeks ago, I tore my calf muscle the medial gastric tear, nothing crazy. It was a small tear and it happens to middle age people. Normally the ultimate insult or worse, at any rate, you know, very painful. I was on crutches for a week. I had to use a cane for a little while, but I was being so protective around it. And then I read, I got a great email from NOI group from David Butler and they were talking about kind of babying your injury and trying to take a step back and looking at it, looking at the bigger picture. And I thought to myself, well, this was the perfect time to actually get this email because I was like afraid to put my heel down. I was afraid to kind of go into Dorsiflexion and once I saw that, I was like, oh, for God's sakes. And that moment I was able to kind of put the heel down to do a little stretching. And, so it wasn't that all of a sudden my physicality changed so much, but it was, I felt from a brain perspective, from a mental perspective that I could push my limits more than I was without injuring.
Alex Hutchinson: 37:35 Absolutely. And it's all a question of how we have the mistaken assumption that pain is some objective thing that there's, you know, you have it damaged somewhere and that's giving you a seven out of 10 pain. But it's all about how you frame it and if you were interpreting that pain as a sign that you weren't fully healed and therefore you're going to delay your recovery, if you're feeling that pain, then you're going to shy away from it. And if you're just interpreting it, if you read that email and it reframes it as this pain is a part of healing, it's a part of the process of, and it's like, oh well I can tolerate that. If it's not doing damage, then I don't mind the pain and all of a sudden it's become something that's a signal rather than a sort of terrible, it's just information.
Karen Litzy: 38:15 Yeah. Information versus danger, danger, danger. I just reflected on that and thought, yeah, this is pain. It's being protected at the moment. It doesn't mean I'm going to go run a marathon given my injury but it certainly means I can put my heel down and start equalizing my gait pattern and things like that. And so it's been a real learning experience to say the least. And the other thing I wanted to touch on was that idea of pain and suffering. And I know this can probably be out for debate, but that because you have pain, does it mean you're suffering? So if you have a two hour 30 versus a three hour 30 or whatever, the person who runs it in six hours, right? Because you have pain, are you suffering through it or are you just moving through the pain without the suffering attached to it? And I don't know the answer to that, but I think it opens up to an interesting, to a wider discussion on does pain equals suffering?
Alex Hutchinson: 39:20 Now we're getting philosophical, but I think it's an interesting one cause I mean I've heard a number of sports scientists make the argument that one of the sort of underappreciated keys for success in endurance sports is basically benign masochism that on some level you kind of enjoy pushing yourself into discomfort. And I think there's some truth to that. And I think it's an entirely open question. Like are people just born, some people just born liking to hurt or is it something in their upbringing? Moving outside of a competitive context and just talking about health, it's like what a gift it is to enjoy going out and pushing your body in some way because that makes it easy to exercise. And so I think one, you know, this is changing topic a little bit, but one of the big challenges in the sort of health information space is that a large fraction of the people who write about it are people like me who come from a sports background that on some level enjoy, I go out and do interval workouts.
Alex Hutchinson: 40:16 Not because I'm worried about my insulin, but because I like it. I like pushing, finding out where my limits are on being on that red line. And so when I'm like, come on, just go out and do the workout, then others and some people find it very, very, very unpleasant to be near that line. And so I think we have to be respectful of differences in outlook. But I also think that’s what the evidence shows is you can learn to, you know, like fine line or whatever. You can learn to appreciate some of what seems bitter initially. And if you can then it totally changes then that pain is no longer suffering. Then it’s the pain of like eating an old cheese or whatever. It's like oh that's a rich flavor of pain I'm getting today in my workout as opposed to this sucks and I want to stop.
Karen Litzy: 41:06 Yeah. So again, I guess it goes back to is there danger, is there not danger? And if he can reach that point of feeling pain or discomfort or whatever within your workouts and then you make it through the workout and you're like, I can't believe I did that. And all of a sudden next time it's easier. You pushed the bar. Yeah. You've pushed them further to the peak a little bit. So I think it's fun when that happens.
Alex Hutchinson: 41:35 And I think it's important what you said, a understanding the difference between pain as a danger signal. Cause I mean as an endurance athlete I may glorify the pushing through the pain. Well that's stupid if you have Shin splints or you know, if you have Achilles tendon problems or whatever. Yeah. You have to understand that some pain really is a signal to stop or at least to understand where that pain is coming from and to do something to address it. There are different contexts in which it's appropriate or inappropriate to push through pain.
Karen Litzy: 42:03 Yeah. And I would assume for everyone watching or listening, if you go to the Third World Congress of sports physical therapy, there will be discussion on those topics. Given the list of people there, there will be discussions on those topics. There are panels on those topics.
Alex Hutchinson: 42:22 Yeah, I was gonna say, like Greg and I are talking about pain, but looking at the list of speakers, there's a bunch of people who have expertise in this understanding of the different forms of pain, trying to find that line, understanding the brain's role in creating what feels like physical pain. So I think there's gonna be a ton of great discussion on that.
Karen Litzy: 42:39 Yeah. All right, so we're going to start wrapping things up. So if you could recommend one must read book or article aside from your own which would it be?
Alex Hutchinson: 42:50 I'll go with my present bias, which is so, you know, casting my mind all the way back over the past like two months or whatever. The book that I've been most interested in lately is a book called range. I think the subtitle is why generalists triumphant a specialist world by David Epstein. So David Epstein, his previous book was like six years ago, he wrote the sports gene, which I consider basically the best sports spine science book that I've read. And so it was kind of what I modeled my book endure on, but his most recent book just came out a couple months ago at the end of May. And it's a broader look at this whole role of expertise and practice, a sort of counterpoint to the idea that you need 10,000 hours of practice if you want to be any good at anything.
Alex Hutchinson: 43:33 So as soon as you're out of the crib, you should be practicing your jump shot or whatever it is. And instead, marshaling the arguments that actually having breadth of experience, is good for a variety of reasons, including that you have a better chance of finding a good match for your talents. So for someone like me had, I just had too much quote unquote grit and decided that I needed to stick with physics cause that's what I started with. And I'm not a quitter. I’d be a physicist and I might be an okay physicist, but I'm positive that I wouldn't be as happy as I am now having been willing to sort of switch career tracks. And so it has a lot of sort of relevance for personal development, for parenting and for understanding expertise also in a sports realm as well. So range by David epstein is my pick on that front.
Karen Litzy: 44:22 Great. And we already spoke about what you're going to be talking about at the Sports congress, but are there any things that you're particularly looking forward to?
Alex Hutchinson: 44:29 Yeah, there's a whole bunch of speakers, but I guess the one that caught my eye that I would definitely not sleep through is, I saw that Keith Barr is speaking on a panel and that over the last three, four years, maybe, maybe more than that, I've just been really blown away by the work that he's been doing on understanding the differences between what it takes to train for, you know, your strength, your muscles or your heart versus what it takes to train tendons and ligaments. And so I'm really looking forward to seeing what the latest updates are from his lab and from his results.
Karen Litzy: 45:04 Yeah. He gave the opening talk at Sports Congress, not 2019 but 2018. And he was just so good. I mean, I was just trying to live tweet and take some notes. I'm really looking forward to that as well. I feel great. Yeah, absolutely. All right, so is there anything that we missed? Anything that you want the viewers or listeners to know? Oh wait, where can they get your book from?
Alex Hutchinson: 45:35 Fine booksellers everywhere. I mean include Amazon but it's definitely put it in a plug for your local independent bookstore. It should be, it should be available anywhere. And if you can find my latest stuff on Twitter @sweatscience, all one word and there might be a link to the book that there, but yeah, really, if you Google Hutchinson and endure for any bookseller, they should be able to get a copy of it.
Karen Litzy: 45:59 Perfect. And anything we missed? Anything that we want to hit on that maybe we didn't get to? I feel like we got a good amount.
Alex Hutchinson: 46:06 I think we covered some good basis. I guess the only thing is, you know, for anyone listening, I hope I'll see you in Vancouver and cause I think there's all of these things are ongoing discussions and there's lots more to learn. So I'm looking forward to the conference
Karen Litzy: 46:20 As am I. Everyone. Thanks so much for tuning in. Thanks so much for listening again, the third world congress of sports physical therapy will take place in Vancouver, Canada, British Columbia, October 4th through the fifth of 2019 and so we hope to see you all there.
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On this week’s episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews Lynn Rivers on Robert’s Rules. Dr. Rivers is currently the Speaker of the Assembly for the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA) and sits on the Board of Directors for the NYPTA. She strives to facilitate the active engagement of the students in becoming advocates for the patients/clients they will serve and their profession.
In this episode, we discuss:
-What are Robert’s Rules and how debate is conducted at the House of Delegates
-Different ways to collect votes from the delegates
-Point of Order, Point of Inquiry and Point of Information
-Can a guest speak during a meeting?
-And so much more!
For more information on Lynn:
Dr. Lynn Rivers has 25 years experience as a clinician and 20 years as an educator in higher education. Her clinical experience has focused on adults with neurological disorders and traumatic injuries such as head injury and spinal cord injury while working in a Level I Trauma Center. Before becoming chairperson of the department in 2001, Dr. Rivers was Director of Clinical Education for the physical therapy program. Dr. Rivers is currently the Speaker of the Assembly for the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA)and sits on the Board of Directors for the NYPTA. She strives to facilitate the active engagement of the students in becoming advocates for the patients/clients they will serve and their profession.
For more information on Jenna:
Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas (www.jennakantor.com) until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website: www.jennafkantor.wixsite.com/jkpt
Read the full transcript below:
Jenna Kantor: 00:00 Hello and good morning. This is Jenna Kantor. I'm here with healthy, wealthy and smart and I get to interview Lynn Rivers who knows so much about Roberts rules. Okay. Robert's rules. You know I'm going to actually hand over the mic because I can already imagine me describing it and Lynn going, well not exactly. So would you mind first just defining what Robert's rules is and where it is in applied within the APTA?
Lynn Rivers: 00:26 Sure. Well Good Morning Jen. Thanks for the opportunity. Thank you for the opportunity to be able to share just about 28 years that I have sort of gotten myself involved and love Robert's rules of order. So what is Robert's rules of order? It goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. It is the philosophy and the construct of how do organizations, any organization, whether it's a small church board or it's Congress or its parliament in England, how does a civil society with lots of divergent opinions, how do we conduct our business so that there are two principles that are met and the two principles are that the will of the majority will rule, but we must protect the rights of the minority. So it is for the voices of everyone in whatever society, whatever group, whatever meeting that every opinion gets heard and heard with respect. And that there is civility so that when very strong, strong opinions can equally be heard, both sides of the debate can be heard.
Lynn Rivers: 01:41 But there is civility and respect. And then when the decision is reached that the minority will agree that the will of the majority will rule. So that those are the two principles. So then the rules, holy smokes, there's, you know, I'm sure if people have looked into it, the 11th edition is 800 pages long and there are so many minutia rules. But the bottom line is that the rules guide how people make decisions about what gets heard and how we make choices. So there are just the word motions is a tenant of Robert's rules of orders. So what is a motion? A motion is just an ask. It is an idea that someone has, that they want the society, the group, the organization to do. I want to ask that we pursue buying a piece of property or I want my APTA to look into this or work on this legislation, create a document for us to help us write.
Lynn Rivers: 02:56 It's an ask and then there's a way to make the ask. And so they give guidelines on how you make the ask. And then there are rules of then how do people debate. So you have to write out your ask. It becomes a motion. And then it's agreed during the meeting. It will be, they call it lay it on the table, but it just means say it right. Make the ask for the whole body to hear. And then there is the leader of the meeting who is neutral and just trying to facilitate the discussion and they have different titles. Then everyone respectfully just raises their hand or makes a motion. They have to be recognized to speak. And then when you speak to the motion there are just rules of civility meeting respect that you aren't shouting that you are just speaking to the facilitator of the meeting and you are making your case but you tend not to speak only about the motion, not who made the motion and don't speak ill of any other opinion. You just state your own opinion and the debate goes back and forth and then there's a vote.
Jenna Kantor: 04:16 Actually could we go on this a little bit more with the ask, cause there's some things in this that I think is so fantastic with the civility that you are discussing and you guys, anybody listening, all you new grads, anybody who hasn't done house of delegates or been to any of these type of meetings before. You know how easy it is for things to get heated when it should, when it's a touchy subject. And of course within physical therapy we're extremely passionate about what we do. So those issues can get personal very easily. So would you mind going into the process of who is actually getting the eye contact, when you are standing up to speak about something and say it might be something you are quite passionate about, you have a written out exactly what you want to say. Who do you make eye contact with? And how do you address or refer to somebody who may have spoken before? Would you mind giving an example of that so people can get a better idea of how important and valuable it is to keep this going?
Lynn Rivers: 05:18 Be Glad to Jenna. So I'm just going to think back to the most recent house. The American Physical Therapy Association taking a stance against firearm violence. And there are some very passionate opinions in the room. So what will happen is in order to not hurt feelings or offend anyone, what happens is that the individual who wants to now speak passionately against the APTA taking any kind of social stance, they make direct eye contact, the room is full of 400 people, face forward. You're looking directly at the speaker of the house, which is the title of the individual who's standing up in the front, who has recognized you to speak and you say, Madam Speaker, I would like to speak vehemently against this. I respectfully disagree with the previous speaker from Oregon who made this claim.
Lynn Rivers: 06:22 And I disagree with that. So you don't say, I think Henry is an idiot. You say, I respectfully disagree and you speak about people in the third person and it's amazing how that sort of takes the emotion out. You can be emotional, you can feel passionate about your stance and you could be angry about the thought of an action being taken, but you are looking at the neutral speaker of the assembly and you are referring only in the third person to previous speakers or to a speaker from another state. And it is amazing how that can really deescalate the emotion.
Jenna Kantor: 07:08 And then for such a very important debate and which I'd like to say that, you know, it's nice that there's an opportunity for every single motion to be debated on. So whether or not you think it's important, it still doesn't obliterate the opportunity for other people to debate on that, which I think is wonderful as well. But of course these things can go on forever. So how is it handled to end, you know, as a group cause you have a group of 400 people you know, for us at the house of delegates. So how is it handled, you know, to rightfully decide when it's appropriate to stop the discussion and move on to a vote?
Lynn Rivers: 07:48 Yes. So again, what happens is, you know, people have raised their hand or we do it electronically now in the house of delegates with a blackberry, you can put yourself what they call in the queue. So you're in line to speak. And so the speaker will monitor and you must indicate to the speaker whether you're speaking for or against it. So they try to balance debate. And at times after a bit of discussion, the speaker will say, at this time there appears to be no one who is in line or in the queue to speak. Are you ready for the vote? Other times, the speaker that we do have an opportunity and in Robert's rules there is a motion it to what is called call the previous question. And all that means is that person has put a motion to say, I think I've heard enough.
Lynn Rivers: 08:38 I have heard both sides of the debate. I am ready to vote. And so then if the speaker of the house, the leader of the meeting, observes that there are many people who think it's time to vote, then he or she will ask the body, that group at the meeting, are you ready for the vote? And if there's no objection, then you move to the vote. So it can either be everyone has stopped talking or there has been a lot of balanced debate hearing both sides of the story and enough people have spoken that the group feels they can make a vote.
Jenna Kantor: 09:16 I also saw in the meeting, and we're not gonna hit all 800 pages of the book, but I'm just pointing out some interesting things. Sometimes the voting switched between standing between saying Aye and then also the electronic vote via the device. So how does, in this case, the speaker of the house who was running the meeting, how does the speaker of the house decide which way to do the vote?
Lynn Rivers: 09:43 Yeah, so certainly, what happens is each organization has also something that's called the standing rules. So we use set rules at the beginning of the meeting. And one of the key rules you decide is how much agreement does there have to be in order to pass that motion to say it's going to go. So for normal business, the actions of the house, we agree in the house of delegates, a simple majority, so just over 50%, 51% of the group. So the default or easiest for 404 was our voting strength yesterday, that the speaker starts with a voice vote. All those in favor say Aye. So she listens to the volume of the ayes compared to the volume of the no’s. And many times it's very clear if 300 people say Aye and 100 say no, then it's pretty clear by voice.
Lynn Rivers: 10:42 And that's the simplest and quickest. If it's still a vote for simple majority and she couldn't tell by the voices, then we have to use the electronic voting. Within that everybody has their clicker and they vote Yay or nay and it comes up. The standing vote is typically done when there is a vote that is more precious than just a normal business action. It's any vote that is going to hurt the rights of members. And I'll give the example then if you need to know, if two thirds of the people agree, many times the speaker will do a standing vote because that is much easier to see two thirds clear by standing. And that is when there is an objection to calling the question, meaning stopping debate. And because that is a right of the minority to continue to be heard, that is when the speaker calls for a standing vote. And then there was one time, even in the standing vote, she was not 100% sure it was two thirds. So she had us sit back down and do the clickers.
Jenna Kantor: 12:05 This is great. So, you know, it's so funny, earlier you mentioned the word Henry and now I'm thinking of the Henry Bar, the candy. And I'm like, oh my gosh, what do these conferences do to me? I'm like, I need sugar all the time to like stay awake. Can we get into some of the language, just the intro that people say when they say parliamentary inquiry, like why do we say that instead of something else? Does it make it more efficient?
Lynn Rivers: 12:35 So again, there is a protocol to how one introduces a motion. And one of the first again for civility is whenever you are recognized to speak, you start by introducing yourself so speakers know who you are. We also ask them to state what component they are from, component or state. So I'm Lynn Rivers from New York would be how I would start. And you must be recognized in order to speak. There are three instances, and someone can shout out and not wait to be recognized. Point of order, point of inquiry and point of information, point of order. They there is shouted out and you are allowed to shout it out if you believe what is happening right now is not following Robert's rules of order. We are not doing it correctly and we believe that we have to ask the speaker that.
Lynn Rivers: 13:45 So if someone shouts out point of order, all debate stops immediately and the speaker says state your point and that person comes up to the mic and says speaker, I believe it is not in order for this motion to be heard. And there is a reason why we did not have due notice before this motion came. I don't think it's right that we are hearing it and then they would confer and decide whether that member is correct or the speaker rules. No, I do believe it's in order point and I'm sorry I misspoke. Point of inquiry or point of information are very similar. There is no real difference between that. A point of inquiry is sometimes said because people are really wanting data and facts, point of information. People tend to say they just have a question. They don't really understand why the makers of the motion wrote it this way. They don't really understand the intent of the motion. So they are asking a question to better understand the motion point of is just a little more precise if they want to. If someone wants to ask someone else other than the maker of the motions, they understand the motion but their point of inquiry is we'd like to hear from legal counsel is what the maker of the motion asking us to do. Is that legal in all 50 states? So then the speaker will say, is there an objection? Does anyone object to legal counsel addressing the body and answering this person's inquiry?
Jenna Kantor: 15:16 Yes. That honestly makes more sense for me. Now listening to that because there was a motion on creating a virtual historical museum and there was a lot of point of inquiries to the board to find out how much work would this be putting on them. Would this be possible for them to take on? And also what would the game plan, where would the financial resources come from? What would we be taking away from? So that makes even more sense. And it's also respectful way to be like, it's just clarification. It's not going to be an attack. We just have a question to like know what this means. And of course, it's pointed in a very professional way of just saying, we really just need to know to get the full picture on if this is a good thing to vote on. So, I'm getting some massive light bulbs here right now. And then I think I want to finish with one more or the Lord knows we could go on forever with Robert's rules. And, honestly, if I really do recommend, yes, it's an 800 page book, but if you're interested in it, read it. Why not?
Lynn Rivers: 16:30 Well, and I'm going to say the caveat. Please don't start with that book because you will run away screaming, but please know, and you can just Google it. Robert's rules for dummies is one version. There are about four levels of books. There's Robert's rules simplified, right? So Google Robert's rules and look at the different books and start with the first one and then move up to the next one. That gets a little deeper into it. If you really think you want to fully understand it, you want to join be a member of the national parliamentarian society. That's when you buy the 11th edition of Robert's rules. Nearly revised. Yes.
Jenna Kantor: 17:17 Awesome. Thank you so much. And See, this is a perfect example. Why bring the expert on to help? Correct me as I'm going, why don't we just do this? You're like, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, whoa. Well, thank you for helping prevent people from walking away and pulling their hair out. Trying to read it going, oh, I give up. So that's good. I love those dummy books. Those are amazing,
Lynn Rivers: 17:36 I guess. But I just want to say the dummy books are not always helpful. Right. But I can assure you for Roberts rules, that book is a great start. If you just want to be able to be a voice at a meeting, not necessarily run one yet. You know, you just want, you want to write a motion, you want to get up and state your opinion and don't want to look foolish. Start with Robert's rules of order for dummies.
Jenna Kantor: 18:03 Love it. Love it. Oh, I've been forgetting what my last, Oh yes. So for those who don't know, so at the house of delegates, I'm not sure if this is elsewhere, so you can definitely clarify this, Lynn. So at that house, all the people who are elected delegates sit in, I want to say an organized clump with their states and everything. But then there can be guests attending the event and they are sitting in the gallery in the back. And these are, it's separated in the back of the room. Is it true that they can come up and say point of order or speak to a motion or ask a question and so on and following Robert's rules and when or how, if that is appropriate? Is it appropriate?
Lynn Rivers: 18:49 Yeah, no, that's a good question. And the short answer is no. A guest in the gallery does not have the right to state point of order. Point of inquiry, they cannot shut out. But with the permission of the group permission has to be asked, can a guest speak? So guests can be invited to speak. A guest in the gallery can ask a member of the group to request permission for them to speak. So, so there's two things. There may be a member in the audience that knows there's a lawyer in the audience or in the gallery and they may initiate the request, but the lawyer may be sitting there antsy thinking, I have something to contribute. There are guests in the gallery. They are allowed to walk up to a member and say, would you ask the speaker of the House to request permission for me to speak? Because I have something to say. And almost always the body would say yes. If someone really wants to speak. I've never seen a guest be denied, but there must be permission given.
Jenna Kantor: 20:07 Thank you. That's very helpful. Well, me as a performer first I see this mic sitting in front of us that's clearly not pointing to the people. You know, anybody sitting in amongst the delegates. And I remember staring and going, I mean, do they want us to sing? What is this opportunity? This mic Beholdeth on us? So no, they give them one for clarifying. But thank you Lynn, thank you so much for coming on and clarifying. Just even giving people a little glimpse of what Robert's rules is and just really learning how valuable it is. I think this will be such a good thing for so many, even experienced physical therapists to really know more of and understand what goes on behind the scenes and why we are following such rules. I'm new to this, but honestly, I really do believe in them because it is not easy to have these hard discussions in a nice manner.
Jenna Kantor: 21:01 You don't want to leave pissed off. You want to leave like, okay, that was fair. That was a discussion. I can see why we might be moving a little slowly on this matter or why we might move quickly on this matter. It was eye opening in a very positive way. So I was wondering, Lynn, if people wanted to reach out to you or find you to learn more or maybe even get more guidance if they start finding themselves passionate about getting much more involved in this whole parliamentary process, how could they find you?
Lynn Rivers: 21:31 Thanks Jenna. Well, I'm in Buffalo, New York at D’Youville College and I am happy to share my email. It is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenna Kantor: 21:48 Thank you so much for coming on.
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LIVE on the Sport Physiotherapy Canada Facebook Page, I welcome Dr. Emma Stokes on the show to discuss leadership. Dr. Emma Stokes BSc (Physio), MSc (research), MSc Mgmt, Phd is the president of World Confederation of Physical Therapy.
In this episode, we discuss:
-Dr. Stokes’ journey to becoming the President of the WCPT
-Takeaways from the World Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress
-Constructive feedback and the 360 review
-How to grow your professional network and the two up, two down and two sideways rule
-And so much more!
For more information on Emma:
Emma is the head of the newly established Department of Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Science at Qatar University. She has worked in education for almost 25 years and is on leave from Trinity College Dublin where she is an associate professor and Fellow. Her research and teaching focus on professional practice issues for the profession. She has taught and lectured in over 40 countries around the world. In 2015, she was elected to serve as President of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy. She was re-elected for a further four years in 2019. She has experience as a member and chair of boards in Ireland and internationally in a diversity of settings including education, health, research and regulation.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hey everybody, welcome to another interview for the Third World Congress on sports physical therapy, which is happening in Vancouver October 4th and fifth of 2019 and we've been interviewing a lot of the speakers and today we're really excited and honored to have Dr. Emma Stokes who will be in Vancouver with us. So Dr. Stokes, thank you so much for coming on.
Emma Stokes: 00:29 Oh, thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you again, Karen. It's always a pleasure.
Karen Litzy: 00:34 I know, I know I just saw you in Switzerland and we'll talk about that in a little bit, but before we get into all of that, just in case, there are some people who are maybe not familiar with you, which may be, there are, I don't know, but can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Emma Stokes: 00:55 Yes, of course. Well, I'm an Irish physiotherapist and I'm sitting in Trinity College in Dublin, where I have the privilege of spending a lot of my professional life. So I qualified as a physiotherapist in 1990 and let's just fast forward to eight years after I qualified, I went to my first international meeting and you know, I tell this story wherever I go in the world, which is, you know, I went to that meeting and I came home. And in that moment, in those days I really recognized that I wanted to be part of the international physiotherapy community. You know, a lot of people ask me that question. They say, well, you know, how do we become part of that? And you know, honestly then I didn't know what that meant or looked like or felt like or anything like that. But as I tell the story and we can come back to this later on, you know, I decided I was going to make myself indispensable.
Emma Stokes: 01:45 So I volunteered for every conceivable opportunity that arose, including within the ISCP, which is the Irish side of charter physiotherapists. And in 2015 I was elected to serve as the president of WCPT the world confederation for physical therapy, the global physiotherapy organization of which the IFSPT, which is the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy, is a subgroup of which the Canadian physiotherapy association is a member organization. And of course of which sports physiotherapy at Canada is a division of the CPA. So we're all connected in this big family and I got to serve as the president for four years. And then last year I decided that I would seek a second term as the president of WCPT. And there was an election in May and I was reelected, here I am, I'm very, very happy to am honored to be serving a second term as president of WCPT. And it's been a long journey and I'm happy to answer any specific questions about that as I always am. Because you know, I think not because I want to talk about myself, but because I think sometimes people look at you and they say, how'd you get there? And I'm happy to share that journey because I think that's a really important question. When you see someone in a position that you want to be in, then you need ask them how do they get there?
Karen Litzy: 03:01 Yeah. So let's talk about that. So you volunteered for everything and anything you could get your hands on it sounds like, and I'm sure that helped get your foot in the door and, open things, a crack here and there. So when did you first decide to be an elected official?
Emma Stokes: 03:23 I think physiotherapists are nervous about the volunteering thing and the idea that, oh gosh, it would be terrible to volunteer if you had an end game and you know, 30 odd years ago to be 30 years since I graduated next year as a PT, you know, I don't think we had the whole, I don't know the word networking even existed in the way it does now, but I loved getting involved and things. So I was very involved with the Harriers and athletics club here and lives in trinity and I reckon I spent more time with them than I did and my physiotherapy program. I just loved getting involved and you know, when you're a junior physiotherapist or in your, the early stages of your career in the day job, you know, and you'd know this Karen, right?
Emma Stokes: 04:08 You don't always have the opportunity to do the things that you want to do because you're maybe limited sometimes in the organization that you're working in. And in fairness, I worked in St James's Hospital in Dublin and there were no limitations placed on me when I started to get momentum, but it took me a few years to get some momentum. So I became a member of the Irish society and I went to a meeting. They needed a member on a committee and that's where it started. And you know, I was on a committee and then I was on another committee and then in 1996 when I was working in trinity, one of my friends whose office was across the Carto said to me, we're stuck for someone on the international affairs committee. Would you volunteer? And I think I suggest more because I was sort of trying to help her out.
Emma Stokes: 04:51 Than I wanted to necessarily do international affairs. And then, you know, it started, I just, I knew then the global physiotherapy was where my, I think maybe I was struggling to find my place in the Irish physiotherapy world or maybe the clinical physiotherapy world rather than the Irish. You see that everywhere, the clinical physiotherapy world. And so when I started to do some international work, so I got involved with my first international research consortium and I started to volunteer and so the first international meeting that I went to was 20 years ago. In 1999 and no one paid me to get there. I paid for myself to get there. I was presenting some of my phd research and I had gotten to know, Brenda Meyers, I'd met her once or twice and I emailed her, I said to her, look, I'm here.
Emma Stokes: 05:42 Do you need to volunteer? And I was a teller at the general meeting of WCPT I helped count votes. Now you might not think that that's super important which it is. In the governance meeting of WCPT, I counted the votes in 1999 and then clearly I could count and I stayed involved with European level. And in 2003 the meeting was in Barcelona and I asked you about some time, the Irish societies delegation. But I was there with some of my phd students at that stage and some of my own research. And I went to the general meeting and Brenda said to me, well you would you like to be the chair of the credentialing committee? And that's what I did. So in that, that was the time when you presented your credentials in within paper, you brought your paperwork to the meeting and there was something really elegant about that process. And now we do it electronically and it's a little different. And plus I got to meet the presidents of every member organization and WCPT at that meeting. And then I finally got elected to actually the board of WCPT in 2006 and that was a chance I didn't expect to get elected. I was only running to signal my interest for four years later. But I got elected and I guess the rest is history.
Karen Litzy: 07:01 Great. And I think the big moral of the story here is that no one's an overnight success. It's not like you one day said, I'm going to run for president of WCPT and got elected, you have to put the time in and pound the pavement, if you will, in order to kind of work your way up. And I think in the days now of social media and everything happening, having to happen immediately. Yeah, it's hard. So what advice would you give to someone who maybe doesn't have the patience these days to put the work in?
Emma Stokes: 07:35 Yeah. So first of all, I think you have to enjoy the journey. So, you know, I never knew it was a journey in many ways. I guess at some point I knew it was a journey. And I think one of the things, because I've done a lot of reading around leadership and, I think what I've been fascinated about is this notion that just because you try once for perhaps an elected position and you're not elected doesn't mean that you walk away. So that in 2006 now, I don't know would I have walked away. I don't know that I did because I actually think I would've because I think what happened was in 2006 I had no expectation of being elected. But my plan then was to say, look, I'm interested. I know that's going to be another four years before I'm elected.
Emma Stokes: 08:26 Or I could be elected. And I don't mind if I'm not elected this time. So I was elected and that was pretty amazing. And interestingly in 2011 and it was suggested to me by a number of people that I should run for president. And I decided not to because I wasn't ready now cause that's another conversation which is about when are we ever ready. But I think I'm very objective about my abilities. And so I had sort of decided that I didn't feel ready in 2011 to be elected as the president but by 2015 given what I had done between 2011 and 2015 I knew that I had the experience, I had the capabilities to be a very effective president from the point of view, I think at least I felt I had given the organization the best shot in terms of the experience that I had gathered.
Emma Stokes: 09:33 So I had done a graduate business degree. I had done a lot of governance courses. I had been the chair of the board of charity and I just felt, I suppose I felt from a self efficacy perspective and we talked about this, about our patients all the time. I felt confident going in that not withstanding what needed to be done, I was confident that I was able to definitely demonstrate that I had the experience to be the chair of the board of a charity based in the United Kingdom, which is what WCPT is from a governance perspective. But also that I felt that I had enough experience to at least give a fairly good shot of being the president of the global organization. And there are two quite distinct parts of the road.
Karen Litzy: 10:21 Well, and that leads me to my next question is as president of WCPT and for maybe the people listening, if maybe one day that's on their list, can you give a quick rundown of the roles and responsibilities of that position?
Emma Stokes: 10:35 Yes. And Look, you know, I think let's just use the sort of a nice kind of balanced scorecard approach to this. So to me, when I ran, when I sought to be elected as president in 2015, I said I would look in, I would look out, I will look to the future. And then I had a little small part of the balance scorecard, which is you know, that quadrant system which was about inspiring. And in a way they map onto the two I think quite distinct aspects of the presidency, which is that you are the chair of the board of an organization and a company that's based in the United Kingdom and that brings governance, legal, fiduciary responsibilities. But you were also the president of a global organization. You are the leader in some ways the first among equals. But nevertheless you are in a leadership role.
Emma Stokes: 11:21 And my perspective on that is my job is to bring people together in the global community and that's whether it's the physiotherapy part of the global community or the wider collaborative part of the global health rehabilitation community. So looking in was about ensuring that the organization with working with the board and staff and our volunteers was its best version of itself. Looking out was to start looking at who we working with internationally and what are the international organizations that we're working with. Looking into the future is about leadership. It's about creating the next generation of leaders in physiotherapy. And then the other space was about inspiring. And I suppose for me in the four years, I'm sharing something with you that I have probably not shared with very many people. So in my narrative and the work that I do with an amazing coach is around how do you walk with the dreamers and I've given a few talks that talk about what with dreamers, but it's about that idea of how do you inspire people to do something different, to get involved, to be involved in a different way, to just grow.
Emma Stokes: 12:30 I guess just to enable us to sort of amplify everything that we do. And I suppose for me that's very, very, it's an intangible, right? It's that sense of how do you measure that when it's very hard to measure it? Right? And you know, now in the next four years, that hasn't changed. So we're still looking. So I believe we need to still look in, we need to still look out. We just need to look out in a bigger, better way. We need to look to the future. And I feel that commitment from me over the next few years is really important in terms of what are we talking about in terms of sustainability, the next generation of leaders, the future of organizations that are just in their beginning part of the journey. And My blog, which just was posted yesterday, is about, I suppose that other quadrant, now I'm talking about the moon landing projects.
Emma Stokes: 13:21 So it's 50 years since, you know, since the first Americans landed on the moon. But I think that 1961 speech that JFK gave about this idea of what, asking ourselves the question about what we should be doing, not because it's easy, but because it's hard to me, you know I’ve got four years, you know, I'll be president for four years and then I go on and I just do a different part of my life. So if I had one thing that I want to do, it's about, we could be asking ourselves the question as an organization and as a community. What should we do because it's hard. What should we do, because it's right. And, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions. And those things are nuanced and they're just this dissonance in them and they're not easy and they're not going to be done in the four years.
Emma Stokes: 14:14 So what are the big projects, what does that decade going to look like? And if you look at who they have two big projects that are focused on 2020, 30, which is, you know, it's almost a decade away. And I think we as a global community and as a global organization needs to be thinking about what are we doing to help answer those questions. So I guess, yeah, does that answer the question?
Karen Litzy: 14:52 That's the role and responsibilities in a very large nutshell, a balanced score card and nice framework. Cool. Yeah. No, that's great. Thank you for sharing all of that. And you know, I did feel that sense of global community and working together and learning and open-mindedness, I guess would be a good way to describe the WCPT meeting in Geneva, which was a couple of months ago. I definitely did feel that global community. And I think, you know, social media has its pros and cons and we can talk about that forever. But one of the pros is that it does certainly bring people together from all parts of the globe. And so I really felt, a lot of comradery and felt like I quote unquote, Knew people even who live in Africa or they're in Nepal or Europe or even just across the United States. I really enjoyed WCPT. I thought that there were some, I mean obviously I didn't go to every session cause it's impossible. Well I went to some really great sessions that did bring up some uncomfortable questions and kind of pushed my boundaries a little bit. So I really enjoyed that. But what were your biggest takeaways? Obviously, again, not that you could be in everything everywhere all the time, but what were a couple of maybe maybe two of your biggest takeaways if you can whittle it down?
Emma Stokes: 16:34 Oh Gosh. Two really, okay. But let's, let's start with the opening ceremony. So you know, it, the opening ceremony to the board. So we work with the board and the staff work really closely together around that type of event. So the board does not get involved in, you know, what color is the curtain, but we do make a decision about the venue because the venue has a cost implication. So, you know, so do we go for a big room where everyone is together or do we go for a smaller room where there's some breakout sessions? And I think what was really interesting was we had a series of conversations around that and we finally resolved in them, I guess April, of the year before the congress. So April, 2018 but the decision was, nope, we are going into a big space where everyone is together on it. And it meant that, and you will recall this, it meant that everyone had to walk.
Emma Stokes: 17:29 It was a short walk from the venue of the opening ceremony to the welcome reception and not happening. It wasn't raining so, and so I don't know that anyone ever understood the amount of forwards and backwards and trade offs on cost and logistics and the walk and everything like that. But, when we made that decision, the decision was, we are a global organization and our strategic imperative is that we are a community where every physiotherapist feels connected to the engaged. Therefore, when we have an opening ceremony, everyone is in the room. And to me that probably has been one of the most powerful memories of my WCPT life is that moment when everyone is in the room and I have experienced it in the audience, but boy experiencing it on the stage, looking out that audience is, you know, I'm never gonna forget that, that that's a memory that I'm gonna have for the rest of my life was that I never imagined, I forgot.
Emma Stokes: 18:31 I didn't think that it would in my mind, you know, we're all gonna walk along. It's gonna be 15 minutes. I dunno if you remember this, but it was that snake of people. And it was perfect because you had international physiotherapists rambling on, and they had to walk slowly, right? Because it was enforced because we weren't going anywhere in a hurry when there was, you know, 4,000 as we wove our way along to the opening center to the welcome reception. And to me, I think it was a visual and a physical and representation of who we are, which is that community of people that are connected better because we are connected. So that to me was, it can only go downhill from there.
Emma Stokes: 19:29 Right. Cause I was just like, it was fabulous. So in terms of specific content, and I completely love the diversity and inclusion session, and I think that was, you know, that was a focused symposium. It was peer reviewed. It was submitted. It was an amazing team of fabulous physiotherapists from all over the world and a stellar audience. And to me that was, you know, that was both literally and symbolically immensely powerful in terms of what it is that we're doing as a community. And in the closing ceremony I said, you know, I felt that the three themes that came together were diversity, inclusion and humanity. And that's not to take away from the content, the science, the practice content, the clinical content. I'm not taking away from that, but I think what we've started to do is bring us up.
Emma Stokes: 20:20 We have started to lift our eyes as a global community. And now more than ever, we need to do that because of the stuff that is happening in all worlds. So, you know, we just need to raise the level of our conversation. Of course everyone needs science and they need evidence informed clinical practice, we need humanity in our conversations. And if we're not doing it as a global community, then I don't know who else should be doing this. And to me, the diversity and inclusion session was babied us. We had an amazing session on education talking about the education framework policy piece. But you know what I think really emerged from the congress was on a big shout out to anyone in education is we need to revive our educators network. We need a global community of educators that are having conversations with one another.
Emma Stokes: 21:21 We need to do it. Whatever we can do. I think the other session that that I loved was the advanced practice one because that's a big conversation and it's a big conversation that spans not just high income countries but low, low middle income countries. It's it, you know, if we look to ensuring that we'd have universal health coverage, then you know, the World Health Organization is talking about this billion level of health workforce shortage and we are a solution. We're a solution in so many ways and we need to start having those conversations around how are we the solution. And one of the ways that we are solution is around advanced practice. And then I guess the other one that I just loved, and I'm really sorry that so many people were actually turned away from the door with us doing this. And we went on, we would talk about this was the one that starts to take that editorial from editorial to action.
Emma Stokes: 22:13 Then you know, the stellar mines that were involved in that. You know, so Peter O'Sullivan and Jeremy Lewis spoke the editorial, you know, Karim, who was the editor was going to facilitate that session but couldn't because he had other commitments. But he was at Congress, which was amazing. So what we had was we had to have the insurance. We had the physicians, we have physiotherapists from the low middle income countries in that room. And I think what's brilliant is, but you know, there's a, you know, I wouldn't, I'd love to suggest that I was writing it, but I'm not, I'm just, you know, I'm sort of sitting you know, I'm there in the background saying, Hey, look, the bread lines are out there.
Emma Stokes: 23:01 You do your work. So we're going to have a nice, I hope, a nice publication around that. But, this is one of the moon landing projects, right? If we want to have this paradigm shift, what does WCPT need to be doing in terms of what does the global community need to be doing? But what can we facilitate around this? This is another moon landing project. What does that look like? You know, how do we change the way and we ensure that the delivery of rehabilitation and physiotherapy is the best version of itself.
Karen Litzy: 23:46 It was a definitely a very popular session. Peter O'Sullivan was like, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was going to be that many people there. But it looked really great. I was watching from, I was going to another session, to see my friend, Christina present her research, but it was good to follow along with all of the tweets in the social media from there. And I was interacting and after Boris was like, so what did you think? Did you like the session? I was like, I wasn't in it. And he was like, what? But I thought you were there cause you were tweeting. I'm like, well I can keep up.
Emma Stokes: 24:20 Yeah, yeah. And you know, I think one of the things that, so we are, we are a learning journey, you know, and there was a tradeoff, right? So, yeah, I think Peter and Jeremy were really keen to get a very, very interactive session because there was data that needed to be developed from this, you know, so the data being gathered as a result within this session, which is a very interactive, you know, session. And I think that's really important. You go for a smaller room with very interactive session of course, or you go for a big space with 500 people in it and close, you lose a granularity in terms of detail. Plus the editorial was only published in June, you know, less than a year before the meeting.
Emma Stokes: 25:18 The other thing, right, you're not planning for years cause I mean it wasn't four years. And so that's where you're trying to do the responsiveness piece, which is, you know, a hot editorial, which was big on big ideas, you know, so, you know, the conversation then well it's of course that's the choice of the editorial, which is big ideas. Now let's just talk about enactment. What does that look like in term, well, A, can it work beyond high income countries, but B, what does it look like in terms of the next steps? So it is, so, you know, I acknowledge that was a big challenge and there was a lot of people who were very disappointed, but it wasn't a keynote session. It was around from editorial to acting what needed to be a granular session. We should talk about, you know, how do we keep that conversation going? And that's where I think things at the meeting that the conference in Vancouver a year later then congress the year after that starts to allow us to start a plan for those conversations to move forward.
Karen Litzy: 26:20 Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's a good thing to hopefully bring to, Vancouver and allow people to see, well, what did come out of that WCPT and then how can we expand on that. Excellent. Good. Okay. So let's shift gears quickly. And you kind of alluded to your research earlier and that you were started your research in the 90s. And I know that a lot of your research centers around leadership. So can you talk a little bit about your research, number one and then number two, how does that research kind of guide you in your day to day function within your job?
Emma Stokes: 27:24 Yeah, initially my research was very clinically based research. And then in 2010 I made a decision. So first one, let's put it out there I'm not a researcher, right? So I'm not going to be anyone ever with a high heat index. That does not give me joy in my life. My joy is around amplifying other people's research, which is why, you know, my joy is around saying that editorial was amazing. Now let's see how we can get it to the next steps. But nevertheless, I am an academic and therefore it's really important that my research informs my teaching. You know, we are resected at institutions both here in Trinity, but also where I'm working now at counter university. And so it's really important that when we teach, we
Emma Stokes: 27:56 are teaching, our research informs our teaching. So in 2010 I had an amazing opportunity to take a sabbatical. I finished my graduate business degree. I'd suddenly discovered that you can actually learn about leadership. And I had suddenly thought, hey, you know what? Let's look the what's happening in physiotherapy research and leadership. Answer nothing at all. And, you know, then you ask yourself the question, well that's fine. You know, do we need to be doing research in leadership physiotherapy? And the answer is actually, interestingly we do because we know obviously more and more about leadership is that leadership is context specific. So it's very contextually informed. It's also very contingent around, you know, what you do on a day to day basis. But increasingly the conversation around leadership and healthcare is leadership is not a role.
Emma Stokes: 28:45 It's a mindset, right? You lead from the edges. A loy about transformational leadership? It's moving from the transactional nature to the transformational. And so that's what I was doing. If you think about it, my practice in Physiotherapy was around, you know, working with organizations in either leadership roles or being part of other people who were leading projects and you know, being in the followership role or the participant road. And so I made probably, what's a career changing decision, which is that I actually stopped doing physical research. I said, okay, my research was around professional practice issues. I will research what I practice and my practices is physiotherapy. So I worked on that year with Tracy Barry around direct access and we did it globally. We're now looking at sort of processing the results of, you know, a really interesting survey around advanced practice and the building survey around that.
Emma Stokes: 29:38 And you know, so now I'm not that, I'm not the doer, I'm the person that’s part of a team and the next generation of fantastic researchers are doing the research. So I want to give a big shout out to Andrews Tollway is doing amazing work on the advanced practice survey and also Emer Maganon, who was done, you know, she was my phd student on my post-talk and she's done a huge amount of research around leadership. And I've had the privilege of being along for the ride, which is fabulous. And that's what you get to do as a phd supervisors. So that's wonderful. And so the research has been around leadership, physiotherapy. We've worked around with the global community around some of the research that's happening and there's very little in physiotherapy and that's a shame. But actually what's interesting is there's more and more and that's good. And there's a huge Canon of research around leadership in nursing and for doctors, their providence is different. And so I don't think we should underestimate doing a lot of really good research around understanding the physiotherapy perspective and understanding and enacting leadership because I think that helps us start to understand where we might have some weaknesses or some behaviors where we're reluctant to get involved. And I suppose that for me is around how do we have those conversations, both from a research perspective but also from a day to day practice perspective.
Karen Litzy: 30:59 Right. And then you kind of answered the question of how does it affect your day to day leadership abilities. And I think you just answered that because you're finding your weaknesses as a whole within the profession and I'm sure that can make you a little more introspective to see if you're either contributing to those or hoping to overcome them.
Emma Stokes: 31:18 Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think you're absolutely right. I did a really interesting thing of just before I finished my first term as president, and I don't know if that, if you've done this or if anyone has, but I did it at 360.
Emma Stokes: 31:32 So I had 11 people do the leadership practices inventory. So I did this and then 11 observers did this and then four people did in depth interviews. Oh, let me tell ya, so first of all, I'm indebted to the 11 people who participated and who gave up their time to do the Leadership Practices inventory about me, but also the four people who did in-depth interviews and they were, you know, so there were people within and external to the global physiotherapy community and Oh gee, that was interesting. You know, that was a, I learned a lot about myself, you know, and you know, and interesting I’ve done a reflection beforehand, sort of predicting what they might say and there were no surprises. There was a lot of reinforcements and you know, so I obviously, you know, you do the thing right, the 80 20 thing, which is they focused on the 20% of stuff that you're not best at.
Emma Stokes: 32:27 And of course I had focused on that. So there was no surprises. But nevertheless it is saluatory to hear people say it about you and you know, and so on a cross, you know, so this wasn't, or three people, this was 11 people saying similar things about me and I've just spent two weeks with my family, Eh, like way more time with my family that I'm spending a long time. And I'm like, Oh yeah, I see where that comes from. Oh, how interesting. So I've done a 360 with my colleagues and I've spent two weeks with my family and yeah. Yeah, you know, I get it a lot of your niece that is seven and nine. They're saying, I think we should buy a to do list notebook. And I'm like, what do you think? I need one.
Emma Stokes: 33:09 Oh, yeah, you definitely need to do this, that book. I'm like, okay. All right. So there's seven and nine and they're seeing that list already, you know? So it's fascinating. So I think you get, I think for me it's about where did the data points come from? I'm ensuring that you get them from people who will tell you the truth in a trusting, positive way. And so I do the research and then I do the granular stuff, which is hard, but yeah. But you have to do it if you are committed to being the best version of yourself in the service of the role that you're in.
Karen Litzy: 33:47 Yeah, yeah. And in the service of others.
Emma Stokes: 33:50 Yeah. Am I going to get any better? I'm not sure. Am I any more patient? Am I better at listening? Am I going to be any better as I'm pressing the pause button? I don't know, but I'm going to try. Maybe try anyway.
Karen Litzy: 34:08 You know, I think the good thing is that you're now aware of some of these and I don't think they're faults. But you're aware of that side of your personality.
Emma Stokes: 34:22 Yeah. And I think maybe it's not that I wasn't aware of it, it's more that it was reinforced about the impact that it has on people. If you'd ask me, honestly, did I find out anything with the 360 that I didn't know about myself? The answer is no. But has it made me face up to it and acknowledge its impact on others? Yes. And am I taking responsibility for trying to be a better version of myself. Yeah, sure I am. Cause you don't do this without taking it on to the next phase of the journey. Right?
Karen Litzy: 34:54 Yeah. You don't just read it and say, okay. Yup. Nope. Yeah. Great. Cool. Well thank you for that. I'm going to look into that. So, you know, we're talking about WCPT and all of these international organizations and you do a lot of traveling and meeting all the different people. So you have a very wide network. So what are your top tips for physio therapists who are trying to build their professional network?
Emma Stokes: 35:28 Two Up, two down, two sideways. And we've talked about this before, I think, which this is not my rule. I got it from, and a really good friend of mine who got it from someone else, a colleague of his, and the idea that networking is really natural to some people. Like they just, they're good at, right? Yes. But for a lot of people it's not. So, so I think the first thing is that you do two up two down two sideways route. And I think what's really interesting is when you say it out loud, you can start to use it. And in that way. So, and two up, two down, two sideways is, and so you're at a meeting and you want to be two people who are ahead of you in their journey.
Emma Stokes: 36:09 So, you get ready, you identify them in advance or you don't, you just happened to meet them. But, for a lot of people it's about working and saying, okay, these are two people that I want to meet. And you're prepared and you don't randomly want to bump into them, but you have an ask of them maybe or not. Maybe you just want to connect with them because you admire the work that they'd done. And two sideways is two people that you want to connect with who are your peers, right? So two people that you've met on Twitter that you say, okay, I want to meet that person in person, I want to see that person. And then two down or two people who are ahead of you, the behind you in the journey. So students and you know, phd student, you know, so if you're a little ahead of them in the journey, who are they?
Emma Stokes: 36:53 You know, and you know, who can you help along the way? So it's really interesting is I think it's a great rule. So you're at a meeting, who are your two up, two down, two sideways. I love it. And really interesting is if you know the rule and the person you're talking to knows the rule, it's great fun. So I was at a meeting where a physiotherapist came up to me and said, have you done your two down? So I had talked about this in the next year, a few months before rounds, and he'd come up and he said, have you done your two down yet? I'm like, sorry. He said, have you done your two down? I said, no, I haven't. He said, can I be one of them? Oh, that's so cool. And I said sure you can how can I help you? And so we ended up having a conversation and I was able to do some stuff for him that was fantastic.
Emma Stokes: 37:38 And I thought, hey, you know, that's great. So, I think it's fantastic. So plan for your two up two down two sideways or be ready for your two up two down two sideways. And you know, I still do that. I mean I still think about hooking you. Who are the two people in the world that are going to be helpful for WCPT, who do I need to interact with, you know, and I don't necessarily always know who they are now, but it's in that moment I'm like, okay, I've got my card ready, let me tell you who I am. Do you think I could connect with you about this conversation or this presentation that you made? And so the other thing then is about looking around the room. And I think this is both as someone who wants to network, but also someone who's potentially in a situation where you could open circle.
Emma Stokes: 38:24 So it's about physically looking through was a great piece of advice that I got. When circles are closed. So if it's me and one of the person I'm wearing a huddle, that's very hard for someone to come into. And sometimes that's okay because sometimes you are having a meeting and you don't necessarily, you need to have a conversation. But also sometimes it's about how do we keep that circle open to welcome someone in or if you see someone on the periphery to bring them in. Yep. So, so it's about the physicality of the space so that, you know, so sometimes it's about being polite and saying, look, oh, are you having a meeting? Or if sometimes people are having meetings, right? They are genuinely saying, look, we're actually having a conversation. But sometimes it's about looking around the room where you see the open spaces and coming in and saying, oh, hello, I'm so and so knowing that that that circle is open to have someone come in. Yeah. But also I think as people who are in spaces, recognizing if you see someone out of the corner of your eye might be hovering, have the generosity
Emma Stokes: 39:29 to bring them in and say, oh, hey, did you want to join us? Well, and sometimes, so for me, a lot of the time what I do is I bring someone in because I know they want to connect with someone and I say, okay, you guys are connected. I'm going to go and I'm going to move on.
Karen Litzy: 39:44 Yeah. I feel like Karim Khan is the king of that, by the way. Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Oh, did you want me to come with me? This is exactly, yeah, exactly. Absolutely. He is the king of connecting people like that at different conferences. He's done that for me so many times and I don't know how. I'm always like, what can I do for this man? Because I feel like he's done so much and he's so good. And I love the two up, two down, two sideways. I'm going to remember that when I go to Vancouver. It's a great room. You know, and maybe we need to produce a little card to up to that, like a dance card. Oh that's a good idea. Maybe we can do that for sports congress. Oh I'm definitely doing that. Oh that's such a good idea.
Emma Stokes: 40:37 And then maybe one of the sponsors or one of the, you know, cause they could have a little piece of the sponsorship piece at the back.
Karen Litzy: Yeah, absolutely. Well I know that, you know, Chris is listening in on this, so I'm trying to shout out to a sponsor. And then if you really want people to kind of get into it, you can kind of fill it out with the person's name and then handed in and win a prize at the end. And I love the bringing someone in and when we were in Switzerland, Christina Lee that I was with and you know, we had met in Copenhagen at Sports Congress and decided that it all stayed together at WCPT and you know, you're just walking around and she gave me a compliment that no one's ever given me before, but it's might've been one of the best compliments I've ever received.
Karen Litzy: 41:52 And she's like, you know, you are so good at making sure people are involved in conversations. Like you're so good at bringing people in and you're so good if someone's not saying anything of, you know, making sure there's space for them. She's like, that is, she's like I'm learning from that.
Emma Stokes: 42:10 That's fantastic. And it is a great gift of yours because you are so present in the moment when we're having conversations. So you're very sensitized I think to the people in the room or the space that we're in. So you do connect people in a way that is fantastic and it's a huge gift. And I think the fact that you don't even know is that you're doing it means that's a great gift for you. Yeah, I think sometimes, and that's, you know, that is wonderful. So you have, you know, you've internalized that it's probably just a natural part of who you are. And I think for other people it might not be intuitive, but it's a great thing to remember. The other thing to remember is the 20 second rule or the two minute rule, but we have the rule, which is, you know, we meet people all over the world. Some people meet people around the world. You're never necessarily going to remember everyone's name. So I have a rule, which is if I'm standing chatting to someone and the person I'm with who knows me, we haven't been introduced within 30 seconds. The cue is introduce yourself because either A I’ve forgotten cause I'm so taken up in the conversation. It's not beyond the bounds belief, you know, happens very regularly. Or secondly, I've had that moment where I'm suddenly thinking,
Emma Stokes: 43:28 I don't know that I remember this person's name or I'm not sure enough that I remember their full name.
Emma Stokes: 43:35 So just introduce yourself, so if you're with me and we're in a conversation, you would always do it right. You'll say, Oh hey, I'm Karen, she's introduced me. That's fine. But, but it's also, it's a very polite way of getting over that moment of she's forgotten. She's taken up with a conversation or she hasn't done it because she's only thinking I'm having a panic. I remember exactly where I met the person. Yeah. I remember their name. And you know, sometimes I put my hand on them. But I can usually remember exactly where I've met the person.
Karen Litzy: 44:11 Yeah. I'm good at faces. And sometimes like if I'm with some, like a friend of mine and I see someone, I'm like, oh my gosh, I know this person, I know this about them, this about them. But I don't know their names. So when we go up, we'll start chatting and then I want you to introduce and then I want you to introduce yourself. So I'll prep this, the person I'm with, I'm like, I might know their backstory, I've read them know, but I can't think of their name.
Emma Stokes: 44:32 So you know, do the 30 second rule, which is when you're with a friend who hasn't introduced, you just introduce yourself.
Karen Litzy: 44:38 Perfect. All right, so let's talk about Third World Congress. What are you going to be speaking on?
Emma Stokes: 44:45 Well there you go, on leadership and you know, you know, how fabulous is that? I'm so excited about being there, you know, I'm just, I'm so honored to be invited because I was invited a couple of years ago and, you know, I wasn't necessarily going to be the president of WCPT again. Right. So, and I said to them, you know, what's really nice that you've invited me but you know what, it's great. We just invite you anyway because we want you to talk about leadership. And he would have been the president and that's great. So, I'm thrilled that I was invited to be that. I'm super excited about that. I'm back as the president of the world physiotherapy and, you know, I just, I guess, you know, I love the sports physiotherapy world.
Emma Stokes: 45:27 You know, I've never practiced as a sports physiotherapist and it's not my field of expertise, but I have learned so much simply by sitting in the rooms of amazing congresses. And I've learned so much that just simply by Osmosis, that every now and then I say something and I think I sound like I know what I'm talking about. Actually. I'm fairly confident that I do, but how do I know? And then I realize, okay, what I've sat through five keynotes lectures from the stellar people in the field. And it's not that I'm an expert, but I can actually at least point people to the references. So, you know, I think there is so much to be gained from a global community of practice and knowledge coming together and you know, the sports physiotherapy world is incredible and I am so excited and Vancouver is beautiful and the Canadian physiotherapy is fabulous, So bring it on.
Karen Litzy: 46:26 Awesome. Well I know, I am excited to go in to learn and you know, there's breakout sessions. I don't know which one to go to because they all sound really great. I don't know what you think, but I think they all sound like it's an amazing program.
Emma Stokes: 46:40 Absolutely. It's fantastic. And I think, you know, you know, I get the joy. So I suppose my joy is my privilege and my joy is that I get to dip in and out of so many sessions. And because you know, in a way I am taking different lessons away from Congress. It's like this. So I'm taking away the thought leadership lessons I watched, you know, I want to sit in on the leadership stuff, I want to sit on the policy stuff. But you know, if you're practicing day to day working with people in the sports world, there the richness of the programming is like, where do you start to choose, you know, how do you decide what you're going to go to, to take away, to inform your day to day practice?
Karen Litzy: 47:18 Agreed. I think it's going to be great. And again, just for people listening, you're obviously on the Facebook page, so hopefully you can see the banner on top that says October 4th and in Vancouver the Third World Congress of sports physical therapy. But I guess this is going to be on my podcast as well. So Emma, where can people find out more about you?
Emma Stokes: 47:40 Oh, so, well, like they want to find any more out, more about us I think actually look at, so WCPT.org is our websites. Have a look at the website because we are going through a major both rebranding, you know, redesign of the website. So it's going to look super different. I think we're going to have some interesting information about our rebranding by October and about the rebranding of the product. You know, the kind of, the idea of what do we call ourselves as a global community and started to merge the space. I'm committing to blogging once a month, which I've failed dismally at, but I am now committing, so just put the first blog out there and yeah, so follow us on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then look at our webpage but also look at our subgroups obviously because, the world sports congress is being co hosted by the Canadian Division of sports PT and the International Federation sports physical therapy and that's the WCPT subgroups. So all joined up. So yeah, look at the website and I see the early bird is opened on until the end of August for Congress in Vancouver in October.
Karen Litzy: 48:55 Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time out and coming onto as a pleasure.
Emma Stokes: 49:00 It's my pleasure as always, and thank you for the opportunity and I will see you in Vancouver.
Karen Litzy: 49:04 I will see you then. Thanks everybody. Have a great day.
On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Dan White on the show to discuss evidence-based practice. Daniel K. White is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Physical Therapy. Dr. White’s research focuses on physical activity and physical functioning in older adults, people with knee osteoarthritis, and people after Total Joint Replacement.
In this episode, we discuss:
-What is implementation science?
-Evidence Based Practice and how to use Clinical Practice Guidelines
-The latest research findings from the Physical Activity Lab at the University of Delaware
-Limitations of physical therapy branding and how we can step into the physical activity space
-And so much more!
For more information on Dan:
Dr. Daniel K. White is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Physical Therapy. Dr. White received his Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, M.S. in Physical Therapy, and Sc.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences, all from Boston University. He completed a post-doctoral fellow at the Boston University School of Public Health and earned a Masters in Science in Epidemiology from the BU School of Public Health 2013.
Dr. White’s research focuses on physical activity and physical functioning in older adults, people with knee osteoarthritis, and people after Total Joint Replacement. Dr. White is an Associate Editor for Arthritis Care and Research, and an active member in the American Physical Therapy Association. His research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Dr. White can be reached at email@example.com
Daniel K. White is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Physical Therapy. Dan’s research focuses on physical activity and physical functioning in older adults, people with knee osteoarthritis, and people after joint replacement. His research uses large existing datasets to answer questions related to physical functioning and physical activity. As well, he is also conducting clinical trials to lead ways to better promote and increase physical activity in people with knee osteoarthritis and after joint replacement. Dan is an Associate Editor for Arthritis Care and Research, and an active member in the American Physical Therapy Association, the American College of Rheumatology, and OARSI.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hey Dan, welcome to the podcast. I'm happy to have you on.
Dan White: 00:05 Thanks. Great to be here.
Karen Litzy: 00:07 And now today we're going to be talking amongst other things, implementation science. So before we go any further, can you give a definition of what implementation science is?
Dan White: 00:19 Absolutely. So implementation science, that definition is the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence based practice into routine practice and hence to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services. So essentially it is bridging the gap between science and practice, and it is taking things that we find in laboratories and in clinical studies and literally implementing them into real world, clinics where most physical therapists work.
Karen Litzy: 01:00 Right. So then my other question was why should the average PT care, which I think you just explained that, so we need to care about implementation science because this is how we're getting what researchers do in the lab to our real world situations and our real patients.
Dan White: 01:16 Yeah. I think practicing as a physical therapist, you know, you can look around and a lot of people do a lot of different things and a lot of things seem to work. Snd I think, if we want a game changer in our practice, that is going to come from a systematically studying people and understanding what are the underlying critical ingredients of our practice that really work and the best thing we have made up today to answer that sort of question of, you know, what is it that really works our clinical practice guidelines that is the, essentially the best body of evidence that has been reviewed by a panel and vetted and made to be digested by the everyday clinician. And implementing these clinical practice guidelines are really the key element that is going to lead to a game changing opportunity for us as a profession.
Karen Litzy: 02:34 And when you talk about clinical practice guidelines, I know sometimes people think that you're doing sort of it's cookie cutter and what do I need to follow a cookie cutter recipe for because all of my patients are different. So can you speak to that?
Dan White: 02:52 Yeah, no that is a great point. So on the one hand, there is definitely an art to physical therapy and the clinical practice guidelines and evidence based practice is by no means trying to take that away. It's evidenced based practice in general is not cookbook medicine. It is combining the three things and one is what the evidence says, but two it also combines what the therapist's experiences are and then finally it's what patient's preferences and what their feelings are on the whole thing. And it's a combination of all three. It is literally the definition of evidence based practice and these clinical practice guidelines are definitely consistent with that EBP models. So they are not directions or they're not instructions, they're guidelines. They're ways of helping people make informed decisions. And at a minimum, if you consider yourself an expert clinician and knowing what the clinical practice guidelines are, is a big leg up. And definitely key to helping our profession. It doesn't necessarily mean you ascribe them to every single patient. No, that's not what evidence based practices, but being aware of them is by definition, in my opinion, being a good clinician.
Karen Litzy: 08:02 So can you give us an example of one of these clinical practice guidelines?
Dan White: 08:21 Sure, absolutely. So one of the common patient populations that people treat is low back pain. And Tony Toledo and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere developed a clinical practice guidelines for low back pain, and published this and JOSPT in 2012, their paper described that the purposes of these CPGs, our first to what EBP is for a physical therapy practice. And then also to classify and define common musculoskeletal conditions from this classification criteria specific interventions are devised. So for an example, so I don't treat low back pain. This is not my area. So just forgive me for giving a guess here.
Dan White: 09:32 One example, is a lumbosacral segmental somatic dysfunction. And this is associated with the ICF diagnosis of acute low back pain with mobility deficits. And, Tony goes on to saying that there's, certain clinical findings with this, including acute low back pain, a buttock or thigh pain restricted lumbar range of motion and lower back pain and lower extremity related symptoms with provocation. And then from that, there are specific interventions that I'm not going to get into that is unique from a different classification. So a different classification, a low back pain is sub acute, low back pain with mobility deficits, which is basically not acute but subacute patient and the symptoms are produced with ingrained spinal motions and there's a presence of a thoracic lumbar pelvic girdle mobility deficits.
Dan White: 10:41 And then he goes on and there's these different classification criteria from which there are very specific interventions you're supposed to do. So it's classification and then intervention based on that. And essentially, that is in an ideal world of what a CPG should do. However you’re always gonna have the patient that really doesn't fit into one or the other. Let's have somebody who is not quite acute, but they're not quite subacute. So what do you do? And I think being able to first even make that distinction, you have to be aware of the clinical practice guidelines. So knowing that, okay maybe it's going to be a combination of these two interventions because of this person doesn't fit into either one, but see how that approach is already a leg up from not knowing what CPGs are to begin with and what our common classifications is. Does that make sense?
Karen Litzy: 11:38 Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks so much for using that as a really great example for people. And when you're talking about different CPGs, I know that the Academy of Orthopedics, which used to be the orthopedic section of the American physical therapy association, they have all these different names now. It's just made it all so, so much more confusing. But now obviously big proponents of the clinical practice guidelines, but if I wanted to find the average clinician and I want to find some of these guidelines, where do I go? How do I find them?
Dan White: 12:14 Sure. So all the published clinical practice guidelines for orthopedics are on the Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy’s main webpage, which is Orthopt.org. There's a banner that says CPGs and you just click on that and you can get right to all the published CPGs.
Karen Litzy: 12:41 Awesome. And we'll have a link to that in the show notes at podcasts.Healthywealthysmart.com under this episode so that if people need it one click and we'll take you right there. So there's no excuse to not know these CPGs after listening to this podcast then because we're going to make it really easy for you. And now you just gave us a good example of how CPGs can work in clinical practice. Are there times where maybe they don't work so well or is there a downside I guess is what I'm trying to say?
Dan White: 13:16 Yeah. I mean, again, going back to your original question of, you know, is this cookie cutter medicine and it's not and again, since EBP is a combination of patient preference, the provider know how, and what the evidence is. I mean, there's going to be situations where, you know, a situation's weighted much more towards a patient's preference. Like they don't want you to do manipulation or maybe they want something specific and you're like, well, that's really not called for in this case. And so you don't do the intervention that's prescribed or that the CPG recommends. And that's okay. We're not here to tell people, to command them what to do. They're coming to us for help. And, patient preference is a large part of evidence based practice. I think that’s the best example I can think of.
Karen Litzy: 14:16 Yeah. And, and I think another, if you're looking at your clinical experience as one of the legs of that stool, if you will, and the patient doesn't have a preference yet, you're sensing as a clinician that there's some trepidation on the patient's part. There's some fear if you were to, like you said, we'll take a manipulation as an example, then using your provider know how you would say, you know, this is not the right time or place for this. And so I think you've got all of that in. So the CPGs is not a cookie cutter oath just because A B C is present you have to do treatment B or treatment a or B. But instead it's giving you a way to maybe differentially diagnose and a way to, you know, be able to maybe give your patient an explanation as to what's going on and then use your judgment, use the patient preference and the evidence to then guide your treatment.
Dan White: 15:21 Yeah, exactly. It's just like, you know, when you just meet somebody, you try to figure out who they are, right. And you try to figure out what kind of personality they are. And there's some sort of structure or rubric people use. Like let's say there's introverts and extroverts, is this person an introvert or extrovert in the CPG the first thing that it does is provide you a framework of saying, well, what kind of types of people are there with this type of pathology? How are they a type of person that has, I don't know, this type of this type of disorder or this type or another type of disorder. And from that diagnosis of providing a classification, you can, there are clear treatments associated, with that so back to the party analogy, you know, if you're dealing with an introvert, you know, you, you know that they're not going to be super bubbly and all over.
Dan White: 16:10 You have to kind of bring things out of them and maybe take it easy and you know, take it on the slow road. Versus if someone's an extrovert, maybe are going to be doing all the talking. And, you can just be an active listener and be very interested in what they're saying, because they're the extrovert and perhaps, you know, that that's Kinda how it goes. And the CPGs is essentially just it is in the party analogy, a way of just navigating through our clinical practice, to provide best care. And, you know, I think another, medical example that really, stays fresh in my mind is a sort of lifesaving approaches to acute MIs. And, it wasn't the sort of protocol for or clinical practice guidelines for myocardial infarction, weren't developed, when necessarily, right after science discovered that, you know, look, if you do x, Y and z can actually save someone's life.
Dan White: 17:20 It kinda came much, much later. And it wasn't until, the university hospital in Chicago, implemented these sort of CPGs for lifesaving approaches to MI that the death rate for acute MI’s went way down. And all the medical residents followed, this CPG for treating acute MIs. And, that systematic approach is what made care better. Obviously in physical therapy we're not talking about life or death, but these CPGs have been vetted and are an approach that is systematically used, will produce a better outcomes. So yes, it's, you know, EBP, I'm not changing my story here. EBP is obviously patient preference, provider experience as well as the evidence, but when applied systematically, which means you'd be at minimum aware of what the CPGs are, they should produce better outcomes system wide.
Karen Litzy: 18:27 Yeah. And thank you. I love the party analogy and comparing it to that medical example really kind of makes the CPGs a little bit clearer and hopefully people will now not look at them as some sort of cookie cutter program, but instead, as a way to help inform you of your practice, which I think is, yeah, I think it's great. And now, all right, so let's move on from CPGs. Let's talk about, I'm kind of interested in what you're doing next. So you are the director of the physical activity lab at the University of Delaware. So let us in on some of the things that you guys are working on. If you can, you know, I understand you can't say everything, but what are some things that you're working on that you feel like will be part of future implementation science for the average physical therapists treating patients like myself?
Dan White: 19:23 Yeah. Thank you for the opportunity. You know my whole goal is just to get patients better. And, I worked in inpatient, acute, acute Rehab for several years. And I always wondered, you know, after I got people independent with bed mobility, transfers and ambulation, you know, would they actually take those, you know, new found independence, and actually resume their daily activities and be active in the home. And that led me to really thinking a lot about this notion of physical activity or, you know, how much do people do. And so, in the area I study, it's osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis is a serious disease that is associated with higher rates of mortality.
Dan White: 20:21 And only definitive treatment for osteoarthritis is a total knee replacement. Now, after total knee replacement, people do great with improving their pain, and increasing their function. But there's many systematic studies that show in terms of physical activity, people aren't doing more, they're doing just as little as they did before. And I think that's a real missed opportunity for physical therapists. And I think there's a great opportunity to talk about, you know, being more active and helping patients and it really doesn't take that much. It's just a, hey, so, you know, how much are you doing every day? With smart phones and the use of fitbits, counting steps per day is actually an incredibly effective, a way to increase or one to see where people are at in terms of physical activity and to increase how much activity people are doing.
Dan White: 21:19 So just like if you're trying to, you know, lose weight, you usually have a scale and you want to see how much you know, where you're at and what progress you've made. Using a pedometer or using a fitbit monitor to count your steps is an analogy and analogous way of doing the exact same thing. So at the University of Delaware, we are studying what are the best ways, physical therapists and practical ways physical therapists can increase activity in people with knee replacement. And what we've done is we recently published a study that basically found that, it's very feasible to talk about physical activity and do a really quick intervention for people after knee replacement by simply giving them a fitbit monitor. And seeing how many steps per day they're walking, and then increasing that number of steps today.
Dan White: 22:19 Our target goal of 6,000 steps per day in a study we did several years ago, we found people with knee osteoarthritis who want at least 6,000 steps per day we're much less likely to develop financial limitation than people who walked less than 6,000. So that's where we use the 6,000 steps per day. That's where we have the goal set up. And, since there is a health outcome associated with 6,000 steps that's our goal. And we see where people are walking and then we start to increase their steps by five to 10% per week. So if you're walking 2000 steps, we increase it by 100 to 200 steps per day more.
Dan White: 23:25 And then the next week we see where they're at and we increase it again by another five to 10%. And what we found, doing this intervention and physical therapy is that a one year after discharge from physical therapy. So they've had no physical therapy and no intervention. People pretty much maintain the gains they made in physical activity and their gains are pretty substantial. There was a high percentage of people that met the 6,000 steps per day goal, and maintain that one year out in a preliminary study. And we are currently collecting more data to look at a larger sample to have a little more robust results. In talking with the theme of Implementation Science, what our next step is to do is to implement this intervention in real world physical therapy clinics.
Dan White: 24:24 We recognize, you know, at the University of Delaware, we have a fantastic physical therapy clinic. But you know, our clinicians, and the type of people, patients that come here don't represent a cross section of the entire country. We want to see whether this intervention will work in real world clinics. And we've partnered, with a clinic in Lancaster, PA called hearts physical therapy. And we're looking at developing a implementation of our intervention at that clinic, to see, you know, what's the uptake with clinicians, what are the barriers, what are the uptake with patients, where the barriers and how can we make this evidence based practice approach actually work.
Karen Litzy: 25:13 Yeah. And you know, as you're saying that I'm thinking, well, hmm, does it matter like these people know that they're in a study. So is that their incentive to, you know, continue on with getting these 6,000 plus steps in a day because you know, we all want to show the teacher that we're good at what we do. Yeah. Right. And then the question is that enough? Like you said, you followed them for a year to really make that a lifestyle change and maybe after a year it is.
Dan White: 25:43 Yup. No, those are good questions. So in terms of sort of in terms of like a Hawthorne effect or where you were, you know, you're just doing this because you know you're in this study. First we do have a control group that wears the Monitor. And they did not have the intervention, but we are monitoring their physical activity and know it and the intervention group, in our previously published study, in arthritis care and research, that the intervention group still is walking almost double of what the control group does a one year out. So that's, you know, that's notable.
Karen Litzy: 26:36 Oh, one year is a long time and at that point, do you feel like it has shifted to a lifestyle change?
Dan White: 26:47 Yes and that's the encouraging part. Like one year out that's a pretty good outcome, for not having any contact with, you know, well not having your original physical therapy for you. And, that's incredibly encouraging for a longterm outcome and actually thinking that there might be large behavioral change. Another interesting thing with our preliminary studies that we looked at adherence or the fidelity of a treatment in the physical therapy clinic. And what that means is how often did physical therapists tell the patient about, you know, ask them about their step goals and ask them about you know, how they're doing. And it actually wasn't that great. It was around 50%. So, it wasn't that this intervention was, you know, so well taken, in my mind, it was more that the patients really grabbed onto this and saw that, you know, look, this monitor tells me exactly where I'm at. And in qualitative studies we've done, or interviews we've done after the intervention, the patients, by and large, they say, look, I know where I'm at, that this monitor tells me, and I know when I have a good day and I know I have a bad day and what I need to do to make a difference between the two.
Karen Litzy: 28:05 That's great. And if you can get that from the monitor or the fitbit or the pedometer or whatever it is that you're using, then I think that's a huge win, not just for mobility, which obviously we know we need as we get older and especially after knee replacements, but for a whole host of other health reasons as well.
Dan White: 28:27 Yup. Yup. Exactly that. I was just lecturing yesterday to newly-minted rheumatology fellows at u Penn in Philly. And talking about physical activity first, it was interesting to know that none of them knew what the physical activity guidelines are, which maybe, you know, most people don't know what they are, but it's a 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity. And the reason why these guidelines are so important is that the benefits of health of being physically active are far reaching. They range from not only improved strength and flexibility, but you also have cardiovascular benefits. You have a mental health benefits. There's less the chance of depression, there's less chance of weight gain.
Dan White: 29:28 There are a lot of far reaching effects even so that the American College of Sports Medicine Jokes that if you could put the benefits of exercise into a pill, you'd have a blockbuster pill. I mean, it’s definitely a huge benefit to be active. And then the second thing is that, you know, for physical therapists, you know, is that something we should address? I mean, that could be something that, yes, typically, yeah. Typically therapists you think with a patient comes in, you know, they have their complaints and, you know, let's talk about, you know, reducing your pain and increasing your range and then getting you back to, you know, where you were at. But our recently published study in physical therapy actually surveyed patients and said, you know, what do you feel physical therapists should talk about?
Dan White: 30:24 And they were asked a range of things including weight and Diet and physical activity. And by and large, it was 90 plus percent of patients said, I want my physical therapist to talk about this collectivity. That is what they're there for. You know, that that is a major reason I am here and I want them to ask me about it and to counsel me on it. So I think that's something we should, you know, to embrace and understand, you know, what our guidelines are this 150 minutes a week, understand that. And understand, you know, what our steps per day, what are sort of major benchmarks for steps today. You know, we oftentimes say 10,000, but you know, we found earlier that 6,000 for people, you know, osteoarthritis is a meaningful benchmark.
Dan White: 31:15 And then, the last thing I'll say about the physical activity thing is that, American College of sports medicine and the physical activity guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, you know, their major recommendation and before the timeline is that it's the saying that some is good but more, it's better that there is a dose response relationship between how much activity people do and their health benefits. So even getting somebody who is completely sedentary to doing at least walking for five to 10 minutes a day, can have a huge change in their health outlook and risk for future poor health outcomes. So, that is a major thing that, you know, PTs need to keep in mind is if I can get this person who I know is sedentary just to do something in adopt that I think is huge win for this patient.
Karen Litzy: 32:12 Yeah. And, I think that the physical therapy profession needs to really step up and be the people to step into this space. I mean, this is what we do. This is our space. You know, we should be grabbing those patients who maybe have knee OA, but don't need a knee replacement yet. We should be stepping in. That's our jobs. That's what we should be doing. We should be working with obese or sedentary people of any age before they have to come and see us for an injury.
Dan White: 32:46 Yup. Yup. Exactly. My doctoral student Meredith Christianson who worked with Gillian Hawker at the University of Toronto to do this qualitative study on primary care physicians. And essentially the question was why don't primary care physicians recommend exercise and physical activity to patients with knee osteoarthritis. Although despite the fact that every single clinical practice guideline recommends, you know, exercise by and large, the primary care physicians or that we're saying, well, we don't know what to recommend. We're not the experts. And, they would like to refer their patients to PT, but it's not reimbursed up in Canada. So, you know, I think this further underscores the notion that as physical therapists, we should own the physical activity sphere. We should be the ones that people think of, like, you know, well, I want to be active but I have some problems. What do I do? Go see a physical therapist. You are highly educated individuals who know more about biomechanics, more about kinesiology than anybody else in the clinical sphere. And we are the best place to make exercise and physical activity recommendations to people of all types, more so than any other health provider.
Karen Litzy: 34:13 Yes. I couldn't agree more. I could not agree more with that. And, in my opinion, and my hope is that physical therapy really starts to move toward that in the very, very near future because boy could we make a big impact in the lives of people around the world if we're that sort of first line of defense, if you will. And isn't it amazing that like, I love that you brought up this not covered by insurance, but people will go and pay for a trainer or a massage therapist, not knocking any of those professions at all because I think they're all very valuable. But people will pay for that and not say, well, can you turn it into my insurance? And then when it comes to physical therapy where, you know we know all this stuff, we have the guidelines, we have the clinical prediction rules. We have the education and it's just not something that people are willing to put money down for.
Dan White: 35:27 Yeah, I think there's two things. One I think people will pay if they see value in it. And yes, I think that it's not that we don't have value, but I don't think we're marketing ourselves well as specifically to the larger community. Going back to the implementation science, Workshop Implementation Science Conference and workshop in Providence, Rhode Island this past march and the president of the APTA came and spoke there and he said that, you know, for us as physical therapists, we're really lacking in the sales and marketing sphere. And one of the reasons why is because, well, one of the things is we all call ourselves physical therapists. But what that means is very different depending on where you work.
Dan White: 36:33 So for instance, you know, a patient is going to have an eye, a view of what a physical therapist is. In this context. So if they see a physical therapist working in a school, well they'll think all PTs work in a school, and in acute care after a major MI then they think they only worked at acute care, but you know, marketing that we actually are versed in many areas is a challenge we have. And I don't know if that means we start to call ourselves a sports specialist or you know, cardiac specialists or what, but, you know, something along the lines of marketing our idea or marketing our expertise better is a key area of need. And then the second thing is, you know, I think it's okay to ask people to pay for things.
Dan White: 37:24 In knee osteoarthritis as people will pay five to $10,000 for stem cells or PRP injections, and, you know, the evidence behind that is, well, let's say it politely, much lower than what the evidence is for exercise is. And, it's just incredible that, you know, if someone's gonna lay down that sort of cash, you know, I think there is a definite market out there for services that are viewed as valuable and having a physical activity or exercise prescription that's tailored to, you know, individual needs, you know, is a clear area of opportunity for our profession, for people with chronic diseases. And, you know, I think a space that we should definitely pick up.
Karen Litzy: 38:16 Yeah, there's no question I could not have said it better myself. And I think I'm going to make nice quote on that because you're absolutely right. And now before we wrap things up here, it's the same question I ask everyone, and that is knowing where you are now in your life and in your career, what advice would you give to yourself fresh out of school?
Dan White: 38:54 Yeah, that's a good question. The advice I'd give myself is, just do your best to make your patients better. I think that's all it is. And you know, at the University of Delaware, we have people here that work in very different outputs. So we have our clinical faculty that are working, doing a bulk of the teaching for the students. And then we have research faculty or tenure track that teach the PT students, but all have our own research lines. And then we have clinicians that are working in the clinic so very different outputs. But our goal is all unified and that is just to help patients get better. That, you know, and from the clinical side, we are focused on excellence in research or excellence in teaching students the best and latest up to date things and the most effective ways to teaching them.
Dan White: 40:05 So they remember not only to pass the test, but to have successful careers. And then from a research perspective, we're trying to look for, you know, what are game changing discoveries to help treat people and help them get better. And then the clinicians are implementing that on a daily basis at the University of Delaware. And you know, again, what makes us, I think, what I think of as a prideful point is that we're all aligned in our goals with trying to get people better. And so that's something that I guess, you know, I've always ascribed to as both a therapist, as a doctoral student and now as a clinical scientist is trying to, you know, my major goal is just to help people get better.
Karen Litzy: 40:54 That's a wonderful answer. Thank you so much. And where can people get in touch with you if they have questions?
Dan White: 40:59 My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to email me anytime.
Karen Litzy: 41:16 Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thanks for breaking down the clinical practice guidelines and implementation science, and I love the stuff you're doing in your lab, so thanks for sharing.
Dan White: 41:25 Great. Thanks so much for having me
Karen Litzy: 41:27 And everyone else, thanks so much for tuning in. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.
On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews Kathy Mairella on how to get elected to the House of Delegates and other APTA positions. Dr. Mairella is Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education at Rutgers University. Dr. Mairella has served in a number of leadership positions, including service on the American Physical Therapy Association Board of Directors, and terms as president and chief delegate of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey.
In this episode, we discuss:
-How to make yourself known to the Nominating Committee as a potential candidate
-Referencing the candidate’s manual and seeking guidance from your campaign manager
-Candidate interviews and Kathy’s experience with election day
-The continual pursuit for leadership experience
-And so much more!
For more information on Kathy:
Kathleen K Mairella, PT DPT MA, received a Baccalaureate degree in Physical Therapy from Boston University, and a Master of Arts in Motor Learning from Columbia University. She received a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the MGH Institute. Dr. Mairella is Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education. She teaches Professional Development I, and Health Care Delivery I and II. Her professional interests include health policy, professional leadership, and clinical education. She has presented on these topics on the national and state level. Dr. Mairella has served in a number of leadership positions, including service on the American Physical Therapy Association Board of Directors, and terms as president and chief delegate of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey.
For more information on Jenna:
Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas (www.jennakantor.com) until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website: www.jennafkantor.wixsite.com/jkpt
Read the full transcript below:
Jenna Kantor: 00:00 Hello, this is Jenna Kantor with healthy, wealthy and smart. And I'm here with Kathy Mairella and we are at the house of delegates and going to talk about the process, the election process for people who are running for positions within the APTA. And I know nothing. So first of all, Kathy, thank you so much for coming on.
Kathy Mairella: Thanks. This is fun. I'm looking for to talking about this.
Jenna Kantor: So for those who haven't listened to any of the interviews that I've done before that were kind of similar, I am totally beginner and I'm just going to be asking step-by-step and learning with you the listener about this process. So let's start from the very beginning. And honestly, I don't even know what that is. So Kathy, would you start, how does it just even start in the first place? Is it a piece of paper you signed? Do you raise your hand in a meeting? Like how do you get the opportunity to run for a position within the APTA?
Kathy Mairella: 00:49 So that's a great question. So many, many of the leaders who run for positions at the APTA level started the component level and they often, it means state component mainstay or it can be an academy section as well. Those are also components. So every state has a chapter and then your sections are also considered components. So most candidates who run at the national level have had some level of leadership experience at the component level. And so you start there simply by showing up and getting involved in different activities. Usually if you have a leadership interest, somebody will notice and give you some direction and it helps to get that direction if you ask for it. If you're doing some work on a committee level or a task force level, you can ask the people who are more engaged.
Kathy Mairella: 01:55 How did you do this? How did you get started? I started as a New Jersey component leader. I started as a secretary and moved through vice president and president and then to chief delegate. And so I got to know people on the national level through my work as a chapter president and as a chief delegate because that's where you come to a national meeting and you start to connect with people beyond your component. You start to meet people who are either other delegates or serving on the national level. And you develop connections, you develop relationships. When I went to my first delegates, I looked at the candidates who ran and I thought I would never in a million years do that, but I was a delegate and I watched and then people came to me and said, we think you have some leadership, would you be in check?
Kathy Mairella: 03:00 And I was totally floored. I did not expect that at all. In fact, I was a member of APTA's nominating committee. So nominating committee members are elected to slate the candidates who run and they start years ahead of time identifying those who are interested. And so I was approached and I thought, not really, no, I don't think I really want to do that, but it gave me the idea of perhaps in the future serving at a national level.
Jenna Kantor: I want to pause you just very briefly. Would you mind saying what a delegate is for those who don't know what that means?
Kathy Mairella: Sure, absolutely. So each state chapter elect delegates who go to the house of delegates to vote on motions which are ideas, ideas for action. Really the house of delegates is considered a representative body, just like Congress as a representative body. So you are elected by your state or there are also section delegates, but you're elected to represent them in the house of delegates.
Kathy Mairella: 04:21 And the house of delegates has about 402 delegates. And so the states with larger membership have more delegates, states with smaller memberships have at least two. They will never have fewer than two. So they call that apportionment.
Jenna Kantor: So you're bringing up the delegates cause they're the people who vote for you. So it’s important to be introduced to them because it can help your candidacy if you should run.
Kathy Mairella: Correct. And when you decide you want to run, it's important to get a sense from people. Is this a good idea? You don't want to put in all the work and then not be successful. So you really do start to observe people who have been elected or people who are doing work within the association that inspires you, that interests you and you know, you can observe them, you can ask them questions.
Kathy Mairella: 05:24 You can start to connect with people. And then running for offices really a matter of experience. But it's also a matter of timing. We all have work life integration and we figure out the timing that works best for us. And in my case, I had three growing children. I knew I wanted to serve at a point where they were a little bit more independent. So that determined my time frame. So again, I had been a chapter president, a chief delegate, and then at the end of the time I was a chief delegate. My youngest child was graduating from high school and I thought, okay, this is the time for me to start pursuing that. So, I would observe then you need to know what the positions are. You need to know.
Jenna Kantor: So just to run for say, secretary or President or director, you need to know what it means that you would need to know what to do.
Kathy Mairella: 06:29 Correct. So, the board of directors at the APTA level is 15 members. You have nine directors and then you have house officers, speaker and vice speakers. So those are two board positions that actually run the house of delegates. And then you have president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. So you would need to know, you know, kind of the roles and responsibilities of each of those. And you can also run for the nominating committee, which I mentioned earlier. So those are the people who are elected by the delegates to determine who the candidates are each year. So, you know, you run through a process that starts immediately after each house of delegates. So we literally just finished the house of delegates today on June 12th, and the next cycle starts for the 2020 election today. And it starts by forms that are available on the APTA website that any member can complete.
Kathy Mairella: 07:34 They don't need to be done. You don't need to be a delegate. You don't need to be a leader. You can go on the APTA website and you can put in what's called an NC1 form, which stands for nominating committee one form. And you put that in and as an individual and you recommend someone that the nominating committee should contact as a possible lead for them to slate for office and you can you choose, I think this person would be a great secretary. I think this person would be a great treasurer. And you put in the recommendations for the offices that are up for election in the following year and the nominating committee collects all of that information. They also keep an ongoing spreadsheet of people who have expressed interests cause sometimes people will say, yes, I'd like to do this in the future, on completing a residency now and I'm getting married the year after that and I'd like to practice for three to five years and then maybe I'll be ready.
Kathy Mairella: 08:47 They start to keep that spreadsheet and they turn that over every year from nominating committee to nominating committee so that they have a database of potential candidates.
Jenna Kantor: I have a question. I have a question about that. I'm definitely a person who wants to work on the board one day. Definitely a dream of mine. And what if I'm in a position where I don't have somebody saying, Oh, I submitted for you. Like what if you don't have something like that? Does that look low upon yourself? I would love to know that perspective.
Kathy Mairella: Sure. So the volume of those NC1 forms really doesn't make a difference. It's important to have a few people say, yeah, it would be nice for nominating committee to talk to that person. You're not committing to anything. It simply gives your information to the nominating committee as someone that they should talk to and it just gets you in kind of in the system.
Kathy Mairella: 09:47 So, I think for anyone who is interested, you can contact someone on the nominating committee directly. Their list of names and contact information is on the website. And usually they’re assigned to a region. So who's ever assigned, you know, if you're from New York, from the northeast, you know, you can directly contact, you don't have to have NC1 forms until you're actually ready to run for office. So once you decide you are ready to run for office, it usually is a good idea to ask a few people. Would you be willing to put in an NC1 form for me? And talk to people kind of before you’re ready, you know, do you think this is a good idea? Cause as I said earlier, you don't want to put in all the work and then find out that you're not successful.
Kathy Mairella: 10:35 You're spending this time looking at your leadership skills. Learning about leadership. Always growing, always growing. There are some resources. APTA has opened, a new platform called APTA engage. And they are in the process of transferring some of their leadership development resources to that place. When I was on the APTA board, I chaired the leadership development committee and we came up with some core competencies of leadership. So, they were self function, which is how an organization works people, which is managing people's skills and visions. So knowing how to be visionary. And so I would recommend that you would look at all of those areas and they're always, they're not linear. It's not as if you develop self first and then people and then they're cyclical. Right? So you can be, you know, you can work on all of those things and constantly come back to developing yourself as a leader.
Kathy Mairella: 11:43 You're always developing yourself no matter how experienced you are. So the nominating committee, these NC1 forms are available between now, which is June and November. Usually it's around November 1st they close and then the nominating committee takes those forms. They look at who the possible people are that might be good to be slated for these positions and they actually reach out to these people. They interview people, to figure out who should be slated for this next year's offices. And they come up with a slate and what they decide how many candidates to slate. So usually if it's an officer position, president, vice president, secretary, they try to slate two people because there's one position. And for director there's usually three positions. They try to slate six individuals for those three. So two for each position is the goal. And that's what they would consider a full slate. And sometimes that's a challenge to get a full slate to get people to commit to run and you have to consent to run. They will call you to say, do you consent? They don't just put people's name on a list.
Jenna Kantor: 13:15 So for you, you went through this whole process yourself and several times. Oh my gosh, this is for those who do not know, Kathy, she has the stamina of wonder woman just doing the whole process. So you knew you were going to run. Is there a meeting to teach you about principles or how are you trained for what is to come.
Kathy Mairella: And that's a really great question. So the nominating committee members are mentors or guides for you. They're not your advocates because they remain neutral in the election process. But they will assist you with some resources. But then APTA staff who work in the governance department become your assistants as well with the process. There is a candidate manual that contains much of the information and that's available to anybody. You don't have to wait until you're a candidate.
Kathy Mairella: 14:16 Any member can go on the website and locate the candidate manual and read lots and lots of information about this whole process. And it really describes the nominations process, the candidacy process, and the elections process. So once the nominations process ends, the candidacy process begins and the nominated committee publishes the slate and the slate goes up on the website. And that's when people find out, it's usually early in December. They usually find out these are the people who are on the slate and then the campaigning begins. And as candidates, you are given a question to answer that goes in written form that goes on the website, on your candidate page. You also have to have your CV that gets posted there and that becomes available to the delegates and to the members to look at who are these people.
Kathy Mairella: 15:21 And that's how you get information. The CSM meeting in February is usually the first live appearance of the candidates. When delegates start to pay attention to who are these people who are slated? And so the candidates pick a campaign manager and your campaign manager is the person who helps you. They are your advocate. They are the ones who help you navigate the candidacy and election process.
Jenna Kantor: I love that you guys do that.
Kathy Mairella: Yeah, and I actually I served as a campaign manager last year and I loved it. It was really a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that. So usually you want your campaign manager to somebody who does understand this whole process and who can again be your advocate, you know, let you know if your hair is straight and you know what you know, look at the things that you're writing and give you feedback and be sort of your sounding board when you have questions on strategy and who should I be talking to and here's what I'm hearing and how do you think I should handle it?
Kathy Mairella: 16:38 That's your campaign manager's job. Because they have the job of being your advocates. Do you show up at CSM, you go through the process of contacting people, you know, asking them for your support, putting together your platform. Why are you doing this? Why should somebody vote for you? You have to have a pretty clear picture of why, if you're going to convince people, you know, to vote for you, it's politics. It's absolutely politics. And the thing about elections is that not everybody can win. You have to understand that the delegates vote for a variety of reasons. It's not always personal. If you are not the one who is elected. And there are multiple reasons why delegates will look across the slate at everyone that they're electing. They will be looking at the balance, they'll be looking at geographical balance.
Kathy Mairella: 17:43 They'll be looking at age, they'll be looking at male versus female. So they're looking at all of those things for a mix. Again, because your board is a team of 15.
Jenna Kantor: I would love for you to go into now the day off, so the day off. So, for those who don't know, at the house of delegates, it begins of course with a bunch of meetings, but the real star time where people are coming together for delegates to start voting on things are the interviews for these candidates. So if you wouldn't mind talking about that experience.
Kathy Mairella: Sure. And candidate interviews are identified by potential candidates as being one of the biggest barriers to serving because many members find the idea of doing these candidate interviews to be really intimidating.
Kathy Mairella: 18:42 The candidates at this point get at least one of their questions in advance. So you work on that and get it, you get that one prepared. So I ran this year for the office of Secretary. And so there are 20 minutes allotted for your interview. You get a two minute opening and you get a one minute closing and then the other 17 minutes you are interviewed by delegates to the house. They're divided into four groups. And so you how you do this four times, so you do 20 minutes, four times with a break in between each. And really, the delegates can ask you almost anything. And there's a standardized rotation and about who gets to ask the actual questions. So again, because I've done this a number of times, I actually enjoy the experience. The first time I did it, I found it to be, you know, completely intimidating and scary.
Kathy Mairella: 19:39 Because it's been identified as a barrier, there's been a lot of discussion about how else can delegates get information about candidates besides these interviews. You know, when you’re a board member, you're not necessarily a performer. You know, it's not necessarily about being a good person who answers questions well on your feet, but yet that's how you are being evaluated based on, you know, on these interviews. There's a lot of behind the scenes leadership roles. So this process I think does favor those who interview well for lack of a better term. And again, it scares a lot of people.
Jenna Kantor: I get that. I get that. I was wondering for the last question now. So you've done all these interviews, who you finally get to go eat, drink, try to take a nap cause then you're waiting for the votes. So the votes go through. What's that experience? And so the last question, what's the experience of getting the votes and how it ends?
Kathy Mairella: 20:36 This is a great question. I had to explain it to my husband the other day. So, the actual election takes place in the house of delegates and the delegates use a ARS device for electronic voting. So it is anonymous. And so they vote for each office and then ARS system tabulates the results. As that's happening, the candidates are asked to go with their campaign managers to a special room and you are handed in your hand an envelope with the results. So you get, as a candidate, you get the results before they're publicly known, which is very much a kindness. So you're not like sitting in the house of delegates getting the results at the same time that everyone else is. So you have some privacy around getting the results. You get that envelope, you either stay in the room, you go somewhere else with your campaign manager, and then you open the envelope and there you see the entire slate with the vote tally and how many each candidate and who you know, who is elected and who's not.
Jenna Kantor: 21:57 And for anybody listening of course there can be mixed opinions on how this is run at seeing the tallies, seeing the numbers. I've honestly heard the ying and the Yang version of that, but overall this is the process. So I'm not doing this interview to add on all those opinions. This is just for just that blanket, like this is how the candidacy people running for the APTA. This is how it's run. This is how it works. Of course. Thank you so much Kathy. You just gave all these references for people, for them to look up and find out more details on their own if they really want to see details by details. That's amazing that there's a packet of book you said. The candidate manual. That's amazing. But thank you so much, Kathy, for coming on. This is a pleasure and I cannot wait for people to learn this information though.
Kathy Mairella: I think it's really important that this information is shared. I think it's really important that members and potential members know how their leaders are elected and how they can get involved.