Welcome to the fourth stage of the Medical Exercise Specialist Career Success Path – SPECIALIZATION. Everyone wants to be a specialist. You want to be the expert, know all the information and get all the clients. You want to attend all the seminars and workshops. You want to speak on stage and help others. Well now you’re entering the Specialization stage of the career path.
Here at the Medical Exercise Training Institute we have looked at specializations in three areas of MET: 1) orthopedics; 2) neurology and 3) geriatrics. Eventually, we will look at specialization guidelines in sports, cancer and pediatrics but these three are the ones to focus on to get the specialization process started.
Many other professions have specializations. Physical therapy has board specializations in a wide range of areas. I remember when these began with just a handful of options. Now they are numerous. The same thing will occur in medical exercise training. These three areas encompass roughly 85% of MET clients. So starting here gives us great footing to expand.
The most important key in the MES’s specialization is continuing education. But not just in the fitness arena but more importantly, taking courses taught by and for medical professionals in your specialization area(s). One of my concerns has been the profileration of medical exercise courses taught by those with no formal medical clinical training or background in their area of specialization. Some have been cancer patients or others have developed a strong interest and are self taught. This is great but would you allow a physician to treat you if he or she admits to being self taught in the science of managing your medical condition? I think not.
Managing medical conditions with exercise is not just giving a few exercises and counting the reps. As a specialist you must understand the related clinical anatomy and pathology as well as how other treatments, co-morbidities and medical professionals will interact with and impact the client and the exercise program. This will come with education and workshops taught in the medical community. Now, dont get me wrong. As a medical exercise professional, in 90% of the situations, you will know more about exercise than the medical professionals, but you want to make sure you have all the information and details when formulating the client’s MET program.
I realize continuing medical education organizers sometimes do not allow non-licensed individuals to attend their workshops. But this is gradually changing as insurance reimbursement declines and the recognition of medical exercise training grows. I highly recommend you begin looking into medical continuing education workshops and conventions in your specialization area.
As a specialist you may have to develop a MET protocol for a rare condition or situation you encounter. METI does not have a protocol for every possible condition you may run into out there. But we know your education though the METI Medical Exercise Specialist or Post Rehab Conditioning Specialist workshops has prepared you well to manage a client with a condition not review. The reason why, understanding clinical anatomy and pathology is half the battle in managing any medical condition with exercise.
Specialization will require you to colloborate with medical professionals in obtaining the best possible functional outcomes for your clients. I use as an example Amanda Harris, MS, MES, MEPD owner of Re-Kinect in Richmond, VA. Amanda has worked with physicians and therapists in her community to establish specific MET protocols for their patients referred to her. Every physician and therapist wants things done their way for their patients. So modifying a protocol or developing a new one for a condition never encountered is common place. We here at METI helped Amanda with some of the modifications to the protocols presented in our MES or PRCS programs. Many she did directly with the physician or therapist. We encourage this. It develops stronger referral relationships.
You’re ready for SPECIALIZATION when you have a strong FOUNDATION that gives you the knowledge to begin the APPLICATION of the skills learned in the MES to your clients. If you apply the skills appropriately the MANAGEMENT of MET clients, with almost any condition, will result in positive outcomes. Once you can manage a client to a positive outcome……..you are ready for SPECIALIZATION.
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