I’m Nils Oudhuis, creator of the Facebook page: Trust me, I’m a Physiotherapist.
First, I want to thank BJSM for inviting me to tell you all a little bit about myself and my Facebook page.
I want to share with you three short stories: (1) my time in school, (2) how I started the Trust me page and(3) what I think needs to change in Physiotherapy education.
I wasn’t great at school.
I failed a lot in high school, it took me 7 years to complete when it should have only taken 5.
I failed a lot in Physiotherapy school. It took me 6 years when it should have taken 4.
I failed 3 internships. The first, kicked me out after 5 weeks. The second? I knew I had failed after 14 weeks and still had 6 weeks to go. And the last, I quit after 2.5 weeks, because I didn’t get along with my supervisors. I really thought that I was a great student and couldn’t understand why things weren’t working out.
I was left with one more chance to complete an internship, otherwise, I wouldn’t graduate. In this internship, they told me: “we have high standards for our personnel and interns, so you’d better be prepared for this”. Since I thought I was such a great student and that I knew a lot, I thought ‘bring it on!’
Here’s how it went:
After the first week, they gave me a A4 paper full of things that I did wrong.
No compliment in sight.
In the second week? The same. One big list of things I had to improve.
Well, there went my confidence…
And this kept happening, despite the fact that I thought I was improving. My frustration grew. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t think I was improving.
Week 10: evaluation time. It wasn’t good. Something had to change in order for me to pass.
My supervisor from school came to the clinic to see what needed to be better. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t make it work!
I went on a two week holiday to Greece, forgot about my internship, had fun and enjoyed the moment, talked to my friends about my failures and tried to be more vulnerable.
During that vacation, I finally realized it was me.
I had to change. Not the supervisors or the system.
My beliefs, my attitude, my work ethic, my ability to take feedback, my ability to be more open and vulnerable, to not be afraid of making mistakes and learning from them.
After the holiday, I felt more free, more relaxed and less anxious.
I passed the final exam.
In the end, I am very thankful for this (difficult) period of my life, because I learned a lot about myself and it was indeed life-changing.
How I started the Trust me, I’m a Physiotherapist Facebook page.
I was working for 8 months at my first job, a general practice physiotherapy clinic. I was the only employee. The owner wanted the clinic’s website to rank higher on Google’s search system. I had heard about ‘link-building’ (when many hyperlinks link to the website, so that Google thinks that your website is more important and rank higher).
So, I started a Facebook page to make posts and link them back to our company website.
I was thinking about a name and I saw another Facebook page, called Trust me, I’m a Traveller. I loved that page, so I searched if the Trust me, I’m a Physiotherapist was still free… and it was.
I made the page, invited my friends and family and in one or two weeks the page reached 100 followers. Awesome!
Then I wanted to try and reach 200 followers. I tried to make interesting posts, learned about social media and checked out other pages to see how they did it. Meanwhile, I was studying for my Master’s degree in Manual Therapy at the SOMT in Holland and was learning a lot.
“Why learn it, if you can’t share it?”, I thought.
So I made posts about the things I learned at the SOMT University. I had full access to Pubmed and it was great!
The page reached 1000 followers and I rushed home to make a post to thank everybody for following and to celebrate that there were 1000 people who liked my page!
It felt unreal and awesome at the same time!
After that, I continued to post (almost) every day and I find myself doing this now for exactly 5 years and with great pleasure.
The page now also hosts live videos, and I’ve collaborated with Karen Litzy on interviews with leaders in the field eg, Peter O’Sullivan, BJSM’s own Karim Khan and the WCPT president Emma Stokes.
It was very humbling to see these heavy weights (and many more!) on my own little Facebook page!
What I think should be better with Physiotherapy education.
What we learn at physiotherapy school is necessary and are the fundamentals.
Biology, anatomy, physiology, neurology, skills, clinical reasoning.
Yet, as a starting physiotherapist, I felt lost.
I didn’t have the manual therapy skills that I saw my supervisors had.
I didn’t have the knowledge about exercise therapy to make great, individualized exercise programs.
I didn’t have the communication and people skills to be comfortable as an “expert”, as you are suppose to be.
That’s why I started the masters in manual therapy, because that was all I saw in my internships.
The master’s degree gave me some confidence, more knowledge about evidence based practice, methods to search and appraise research articles, as well as a deeper knowledge about the musculoskeletal system.
Because my posts were fairly biomedical based back then, I received critical feedback on some of my posts by a few people in the field such as Derek Griffin, Simon Roost Kirkegaard. I learned a lot through the process of posting and receiving feedback from these knowledgable people.
I then started following the Physiotherapy community on Twitter starting with Peter O’Sullivan, Tom Goom, Adam Meakins, Ben Cormack, Greg Lehman and then watched David Butler and Lorimer Moseley’s Youtube videos. I also discovered Karen Litzy and BJSM’s podcasts.
It was great.
But it was also challenging.
You learn so much new stuff, but then you have to put it into practice.
How to explain pain in real life?
I thought, how do I give advice and only one exercise to a patient and stop manual therapy?
I started to be a very hands-off therapist, and learned very quickly that my patients did not like it, and that indeed it wasn’t always the best strategy.
It has been an interesting journey, with a lot of awkward moments and struggles, but also with some amazing results. A lot of these successes can be attributed to using the cognitive functional therapy framework, which I learned from Peter O’Sullivan at a course in London 2016. Now I try to use a combination of manual therapy, exercise, and motivational interviewing techniques to help each patient individually. This is however, not easy at times and I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy this process.
With the Trust me, I’m a Physiotherapist Facebook page, I want to help physiotherapists from all over the world keep up to date with the latest evidence and to keep learning every day.
A problem with social media is that it is very quick and fleeting. There is too little time and space to explain difficult topics in detail.
Enter Trust me-ED.
It is like a Netflix for physiotherapists.
A video platform with high quality content, very practical and useful in the clinic.
It’s where you can find deeper knowledge to improve your practice even faster.
It’s a great way to keep learning every day from experts around the world:
The content will be focused on communication skills, exercise therapy, clinical reasoning, and evidence based practice with guidance on how to put it all into practice.
I’m working with Jorn Stian Lauritzen from Norway. He already created this platform in Norwegian and has been succesful for a few years there. He asked me to join forces to create an English platform to provide great video content to physiotherapists from all over the world.
I’m very excited about this, because when I was studying, there was nothing like this.
There were books and teachers at school. But that was it.
Now, we have access to the world’s greatest lecturers at our fingertips!
I believe we can do better as a physiotherapy profession.
Physiotherapy is a great profession and physiotherapists are awesome!
We have a lot more time with patients than doctors or surgeons.
We have the opportunity to be very impactful health practitioners , by improving quality of life and helping with problems like obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases.
Paul Lagerman aka The Naked Physio, wrote a great blogpost about change in physiotherapy.
You can read it HERE.
Maybe we have to think of ourselves not so much as the “treater”, but more as the “coach”.
I think this will be a good paradigm shift in our profession and I want to help clinicians become better coaches with this project: Trust me-ED.
I hope you liked my story and don’t hesitate to give me feedback to make Trust me-ED even better. Together we can make physiotherapy a better and more respected profession around the world. It all starts with educating yourself, and passing on that knowledge to your patients to help empower them to become healthy and self-sufficient
Thanks for reading and keep learning every day!