What to look for when picking continuing education courses for your clinical and career growth!

A Lot of physical therapists already know what they are looking for when spending their continuing education dollars or what courses they want to take. They may be in a certification program that requires certain courses to get a credential or to show that you are certified in this method or that. Dr. Ryan Smith from Recharge Crossfit (https://www.rechargexfit.com/) had a great post a few years ago when he was a new grad, showing the courses he was planning to take and from whom. He called it making his own residency which is such an awesome approach to clinical and career growth! 

A lot of physical therapists especially as we grow in the profession tend to become indoctrinated into a system or approach of evaluation and treatment. Ideally this is evidence based, hopefully evidence informed, but sometimes it’s evidence ignored and based solely on anecdotes and patient testimonials. I’ve found this to be the case the more indoctrinated, or the higher level courses we take under a specific system. Some residencies are based this way, some fellowships are based this way, and just the way some course providers set up their style of education is based this way. Taking the make your own residency approach allows you to get exposed to the base ideas of a few groups, see how they overlap and apply the available evidence to fit your patient population!

Taking this approach exposes you to new leaders in the profession, and allows you to apply your past experiences to a new perspective, way of looking at a person, or a new way of looking at the literature. It’s kind of like when you’ve been giving your patient a certain cue and they just can’t get the movement that you’re trying to accomplish, and then all of a sudden you give it just a bit different and all of a sudden they move without issues! Sometimes we just need to hear things in a different light to get things to click. 

When I take a continuing education course I look for 3 things.

  1. Research 
  2. Marketability 
  3. Logistics 


The research aspect is becoming easier to find, and is a requirement for most states to be accepted as units. 

Research is my top one because evidence informed practice is here to stay and is necessary to push the profession forward. It can be hard to apply new evidence in practice though, so taking a course that emphasizes this makes the process easier. This can be a tricky thing to understand so often the larger name companies are the ones to go to because they are taught by authors of the literature.


Marketability I find is often overlooked and a bit harder to find until you’ve taken the course or talked to someone who has. I think about it as, can I market these skills or ideas outside of my clinic to bring in new patients? How do the the instructors frame patient situations so that this is easier? Do I have the skills and language to get the patient to buy-in immediately? These are hugely important factors in getting and keeping new patients and clients. Some clinics will also hire physical therapists based on what courses they have taken so that standardizing patient care is easier. 

Sometimes course providers will have a list of people who have taken certain levels of their courses for other providers to refer to, or if a patient had good success with a certain technique they can search for providers near them. I like to see in the course though how the instructors talk to patients, describe what they are doing or looking for. This creates so much buy-in and trust from the patient that it makes it easier to schedule the next visit and makes it more likely that a patient will refer to you or your clinic because they felt understood!


Logistics comes down to location, cost, and CEUs. How far do I have to travel to get this information? Do I expect to get the above information during the course and does that justify the cost? Finally CEUs are an integral part of courses and are important for many states to maintain your license. 

Check out some of the live courses below that we’ve found discuss and use current literature and help with marketability. Find logistic information attached!