The Circle Of Competency – What Is Stopping You Getting Better Patient Results?

Posted By: Andy Barker

Lack of application in just one area of your clinical practice can affect EVERYTHING you do as therapist.

This may be the direct reason you are NOT getting the consistent positive patient results you want.

It’s a very simple relationship between your patient assessments, treatment and rehab prescription yet most New Grad’s don’t understand the importance of this relationship and HOW it can diminish your effectiveness as a therapist.

In this blog you will discover…

  • Why As A New Grad You Don’t Necessarily Need To Excel At Anything But Still Get Great Patient Results
  • What The ‘Circle Of Competency’ Is And How It Affects Your Overall Patient Results
  • How To Identify The Areas You Need To Develop Better Competency In And Then What To Do Next

First let me tell you why you don’t need to be top of the field with any aspect of your clinical skills to get great patient results…

Why Some Of The Best Therapists Are ‘Average’

Some of the best therapists I have ever worked with are, at their own admission, better at certain aspects of their clinical practice than they are at others.

The same goes for many of the best strength and conditioning coaches, doctors, coaches, consultants and any other practitioners I have worked with over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, the very best, excel at all areas and are the same practitioners that strive to continually learn and are motivated to keep improving all the time.

But some very good therapists I have seen don’t necessarily excel in all areas.

They are striving to get there, they are working hard to improve their clinical practice, they are getting great patient results, but without excelling.

But whilst they may not excel in any particular area, what they do have is a good balance of clinical skills.

They have the level of competency they need to operate and get success at the level they are working at, across the board, without excelling, and are still able to get great patient results.

But how does this happen?

And why is this so important, particularly to a New Grad Physio, Sports Therapist or Sports Rehabilitator?

Keep reading to find out exactly what I am talking about and how you can apply this principle to yourself to get better patient results.

What We Do In A Nutshell

In practice we do 3 things;

  1. We ASSESS our patient
  2. We TREAT our patient to reduce pain and increase function
  3. We prescribe REHAB to get our patient to get them back to full fitness

That’s it…

Very simple, but that is what you do with every patient or athlete you see.

These 3 components (assessment, treatment and rehab) link closely.

You use your patient assessment to determine each patient’s problems then use your interventions, treatments and rehab, as solutions to these problems.

On the flip side, you use hands-on treatment techniques and prescribe rehab to reduce patient pain levels and improve function and check this by going back to your assessment to see if it has improved your patients symptoms.

These 3 components are so closely linked it is therefore easy to see how if you are lacking competency in any one of these areas it will 100% affect your ability to get great patient results.

Lack Of Competency In ONE Clinical Area = Poor Patient Results

If you lack competency in your patient assessments and you can not identify the patient’s main problems, then it doesn’t matter how good your treatment skills are or how good a rehab programme you have written, if you are trying to fix the wrong thing.

I see this all the time with New Grads as they become too fixated with the site of pain and are unable to understand and identify the source of pain.

They spend all their time trying to fix up a patient’s knee symptoms by treating the knee, however the patient actually has a problem elsewhere in the body.

This is an assessment problem and whilst the treatment and rehab prescribed for this ‘knee’ patient might be very good, it is not addressing the actual cause and as such patients don’t respond in the way you expect.

Equally, if you lack competency in your hands-on skills then you may struggle to make quick changes to patients pain and function and may mean the patient doesn’t make progress, particularly during those early sessions.

Manual therapy gets a bad rap in some areas of therapy.

But I use it with EVERY patient I see.

I don’t think there is an easier or faster way to reduce patient pain and make quick improvements in patient function (namely range of movement) than using hands-on treatment techniques.

If this is then backed up with the appropriate rehab, then you can get your patients out of pain faster and see them progress along their treatment plan much quicker.

Poor manual therapy skills can be the difference between early success in your treatment plan, specifically reducing patient pain and allowing your patient to do the rehab exercises you want to prescribe.

But if you lack the competency in your treatment skills, regardless of your correct diagnosis (assessment) and a great rehab plan you will likely still experience less than favourable patient results.

And finally, you could write the best rehab programme ever seen, but if you have been unable to reduce patient pain (treatment) and haven’t nailed your patient problems (assessment) then that programme isn’t worth the paper is written on.

You need a level of competency in ALL 3 of these areas; your patient ASSESSMENTS, TREATMENT skills and your REHAB provision.

Failure to do so will result in poorer patient results regardless of how great you are at any one (or two) of these areas.

You need competency in ALL 3…

So How Do You Get It?

So we have spoken about the importance of the ‘Circle of Competency’ and how your patient success relates to your competency in your ASSESSMENTS, TREATMENTS & REHAB provision.

But how do you ensure you have the level of competency you require at the level you are working at?

Firstly, you must identify what area you feel needs the most work.

Do you struggle to make sense of your patient assessments and feel confused, overwhelmed and unsure that you have identified the true patient problem?

Do you feel your hands-on treatment skills are not as effective as you would like them to be and feel there must be an easier way to reduce a patients pain level and improve patient function than the methods you are currently using?

Do you feel you lack the confidence to take a patient through a full rehab plan, knowing when to progress, how to progress and what exercises to use to do this?

Every clinical patient problem will fit into of one these 3 categories and in turn you either need to work on your ASSESSMENTS, TREATMENT or REHAB competency.

As a New Grad you will need to improve in all these areas, this is normal, but the majority of your current problems will likely fall into one main category.

If you are struggling to work this out, just thing about the last couple of tricky patients you had.

What specifically did you struggle with?

Did it relate to the assessment, to your hands-on treatments or was it a problem with the rehab plan?

Identifying what this is for you, is the first step to helping guide your learning and turning your in-competencies into competencies and seeing consistent positive patient outcomes as a result.

Key Take-Aways

  • Getting great patient results requires you to attain competency in 3 areas (Assessments, Treatments & Rehab)
  • A lack of competency in just one area will cause problems in ALL areas of your clinical practice and as a result cause poor patient outcome (Circle of Competency)
  • Identify which of these 3 areas you need to prioritise then get to work building the competency you need, and consistent positive patient results will follow
Sticking with competency, if you enjoyed reading this blog, you need to grab a copy of my ‘New Grad Physio Survival Guide.’

In this FREE guide I will show you how to make improve your clinical COMPETENCY so you can make sense of your patient assessments, then provide hands-on treatments and prescribe rehab exercises that actually take away patient’s pain and help get them back to full function.

You will also learn how to improve your CONFIDENCE so you can build great rapport with your patient’s, gain the respect and recognition you deserve as a qualified therapist and communicate your clinical message well so patients believe what you are saying and adhere to your treatment plan.

In addition, you will learn how to become COMPETITIVE so you can stand out from the crowd, get ahead of your peers to fly up the promotion ladder faster than anyone thought possible.

You can get this guide completely FREE right here.