Since I first launched this blog in 2009, I have received email and facebook messages from other professionals new to their respective industries. Still not 100% sure why since I'm still relatively fresh out of school myself, but I definitely welcome the discussion. Occasionally, I will get a note from an old classmate as well. Most of these messages are simple introductions and thank you's but often they consist of a question or two asking my opinion on various continuing education resources. Let me provide you with a list of some of these questions and the thought processes behind my responses.
"I was just wondering if you have any strategies for keeping up with the latest research. I find it hard to stay on top of what's new and effective so any advice would be greatly appreciated."
I think there are a number of effective ways to stay evidence-informed. I would first suggest you subscribe to various journals' rss feeds. You don't have to subscribe to many, just the ones you find most valuable to what you do. As long as such journals are peer reviewed, have a relatively high impact factor (see How to Read Fitness Research), and consistently publish high quality studies, you should be able to achieve the foundation necessary for keeping up to date with the current literature. Most journals publish on a monthly basis so you really don't have to worry about clogging your inbox or feed reader. Secondly, depending on your profession, you may want to check out the various research review services available. I, myself, am biased towards Research Review Service but I have heard good things other services as well. These sites provide the reader with critical appraisals of the studies performed and allow us to filter out the good from the bad. Finally, I suggest you start networking through social media. While this really isn't the place to form conclusions about the published literature, it certainly is a great resource to lead you along the right path. The original question was about keeping up to date and if others can do the work for you, all you'll have to do is download and read!
"Thanks for taking the time to summarize your experiences with the various courses that you have taken. I particularly found Dr. McGill's summaries very valuable to what I do. Do you think I should attend his course?"
While I will be the first to admit that I often ask my wife for forgiveness rather than permission for spending all her hard earned money, I think these questions should be best answered by the person standing in front of the mirror. Are continuing education workshops mandatory? Obviously not. Ultimately, it is one's own choice whether or not they want to spend the hundreds of dollars to attend the various workshops but I guarantee if you knew who much money Craig spent to go to Prague 7 years in a row (while being fresh out of school), you wouldn't ask me that same question again.
"While I hate the fact that you spam my facebook page with all your blog posts, how the heck do you have time to write?"
This answer is short and simple. I really enjoy writing and I place a high priority on doing so, even if it's a simple "research review" piece. Most of the time thoughts are generated from my day to day experiences, be it a learning issue from a particular patient case or a random rant based on inactivity in children, so simply jotting down points on stickies or my blackberry keeps my mind fresh once I get around to wordpress. In fact, I'd even suggest that editing takes longer than actually writing. (As a side note, if you are new to blogging I highly suggest you read this post). Ultimately, it really comes down to what we value the most. Those that really enjoy writing probably don't find it hard find the time to do so..
"Thanks for sending me the email about the potential opportunity to work with team ____. I'm really busy setting up my new practice so I'm not sure I can commit. How much will they pay and what are my required time commitments by the way?"
I have to admit that these types of responses, really fire me up. Experience, experience and experience are three of the most important contributors to success and if one has a CV that states taping their own foot in high school basketball as their sport injury management experience, then they really have no right to ask me about remuneration or commitment. I myself am still quite a long way from where I want to be professionally, but I would like to think that six plus years of studying in scorekeepers boxes during team practices at various ice rinks across Toronto created the opportunities that I'm presented with today. .
"I heard you have Cressey and Reinold's Optimal Shoulder Performance dvd set and the entire Cook "Secrets of" series. What do you think about them. Anything ground breaking?"
If you are a student or are fresh out of school, everything should be groundbreaking. Plain and simple. Mark Verstegen of Athletes' Performance was recently interviewed on the strength coach podcast and he hit the nail on the head when he stated, "Confidence is high, competence is not". Does that mean you should purchase everything released? Definitely not. But it absolutely means that new trainers and budding health professionals, should soak up everything they can get your hands on. Especially if it comes from the three individuals previously mentioned. We don't have to subscribe to everything read or watched but we certainly should have an open mind to learning at the very least.
"Jeff, you're a member of strength coach and sports rehab expert aren't you? What do you think of those sites? Is it worth it?"
Is it worth it? Frankly, I think asking me if it is worth it is undermining my values and decision making. I have no interest in making decisions for others but we are in an information age and I cannot think of any other current web-based avenues where such a high amount of dialogue and experience exist. Free sites DO exist (Soma Simple, Rehab Edge, Evidence in Motion) but I don't think they compare to these self-paced, self-directed, 24/7 continuing education resources. Do you really think I would simply throw $30 away per month ($10 for SC, $10 for SRE and $10 for Hockey SC) for the heck of it? Perhaps, but please remember who is asking who for their opinion. Ben Bruno summed it up nicely when he wrote this piece on "learning on a budget".