“Credentialing Creep”, ever heard the term? Of course you haven’t, that’s because I made it up! But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Slowly but surely, credentialing creep has been gaining momentum, burrowing into every corner of the medical community, one generation after another.
So what is it? In essence, credentialing creep is the medical credentialing equivalent of an arms race. For anyone not familiar with the term, an arms race describes a futile situation where competitors’ continuously increase the size and power of their artillery with absolutely no structure, timeline, target or goal for its use.
Continuing education has progressively followed the same path, and unfortunately our new grads haven’t been spared from its effect. One of the most common questions posed by students today is “what courses do you suggest I take before I graduate?” Regardless of the reason, it seems that with each passing generation new graduates become more and more spellbound by the idea that they need to submit to numerous continuing education courses before they graduate.
Plainly put; this is untrue. In fact, taking continuing education courses too early in your career can do more harm than good. The reason for this boils down to one simple and very old sentiment:
Information isn’t wisdom without the experience to understand appropriate application.
Anecdotally this is the equivalent to: “Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put the tomato in a fruit salad”
If new graduates are encouraged to take courses and workshops aimlessly without first spending the time to learn about their own strengths and shortcomings, how can they know if a course will help them change for the better? Without first taking the time to become familiar with their work setting and clientele, how can they know which courses will impact their practice? Without structure, timeline, target or goal for its use, how can you derive wisdom from random information?
I argue you can’t. What you will have is ‘Credentialing Creep’: a bag of information, a stockpile of wall certificates, a Rolodex of abbreviations tethered behind your name and really, not much else…
At best, the courses you take too early in your career will amount to a number of random techniques to be applied haphazardly. In truth, credential creep is as much about a fear of inequality among our peers as it is about satisfying our own ego; and neither addresses our professional goals or the goals of our patients.
So what do I suggest? What is the awe-inspiring solution to this growing epidemic? Nothing magical, just one simple, yet convoluted concept lost to an age where instantaneous access and gratification is the norm – where waiting is no longer acceptable.
Be patient. Be patient with yourself and your professional development. Take the time to learn about yourself, your clinic, and your clientele. Find the parts of clinical practice you enjoy and those areas that you don’t. Explore and discover what you’re good at, and what you only thought you were good at. Become comfortable with ‘not knowing’ and learn how to work through difficult situations… And for goodness sake, enjoy yourself a little – you’ve earned it!
Remember, physiotherapy is one of the most gratifying and fulfilling professions to be apart of, and you want your career to be a memorable marathon, not a stressful sprint. Continuing education IS important, and you can and should pursue education that fits your goals – but take your time, do your research, choose wisely, and above all, take the time to enjoy the ride.