Tuesday Tips - Interning, Mentors, and Shadowing
Back when I first got into training people I was very fortunate to have met Dean Somerset. I lucked out that he happened to be teaching my personal training course and entertained my onslaught of questions. Somehow I managed to convince him to let me come and shadow him week after week - that's where it all started. Fast forward 10 years and I've had a plethora of internships, mentors, and shadowed some of the best in the field of rehab and performance.
When people ask me about how to grow as a trainer, clinician, or coach, one of my top responses is Interning, Mentorship, or Shadowing. There is so much to learn within our fields and it takes knowledge and experience to sift through the crap to find the gold. Having help guide your education accelerates the process.
An internship reflects a period of time with devoted to learning from one person/one organization, being inundated within their model and being trained within their system. There are many internships available - both formal and informal - that can be acquired within strength & conditioning or rehabilitation.
A mentorship will be where an individual helps to guide you along your educational and developmental journey, not necessarily directly instructing you, but helping you instruct yourself.
Shadowing most often is you coming in and observing individuals working, being able to learn about their practice and skills, sometimes being able to ask questions and discuss - not always though.
Over the time I was shadowing Dean I began training clients for free to build my skill set. Each week I would take notes from what Dean did, ask questions when the time allowed, and then try to implement things in my own training and the clients training I was working with. I'd try to critically observe, analyze decisions, comments, exercise selection, etc. and build out my thoughts on all of this.
This went on for months (roughly 4 months where I'd train 10-20 sessions a week) and eventually I felt like I could deliver a training service that was well worth charging for. After that I began working with a lot more people for training but still not feeling like I was the best I could be. Around that time I was fortunate to meet Barry Butt of Premier Strength.
Barry began helping to solidify my high performance S&C in a classroom format, and eventually offered me a combination job and internship. I was incredibly fortunate to have this at the time and did not take it lightly. I would come and spend my entire days at the facility, often being the first and last person there. This allowed me to gain tons of time observing coaching, asking questions about coaching, and implementing coaching. Across my first few months of time with Barry I acquired so much knowledge on S&C it accelerated me past where I would of gotten in years.
When I transitioned to greater rehabilitation focus, I sought out mentors as completing an internship was unrealistic given being a full time University student and working nearly full time hours. My initial mentor was Raj Dhillon of Pivotal Physio who graciously gave me the opportunity to shadow and discuss treatment and practice with him for months on end. This continued for a long time and gradually built into a role where I could just message Raj and ask topics to him.
During the time I moved from Canada to the US for my doctorate, I found Clinical Athlete. This was a huge step in my development as I began to learn more on logic, reasoning, argumentation, philosophy, evidence appraisal, clinical practice, and just general science. Through Clinical Athlete I was fortunate to meet some of my best friends and closest colleagues - as well as many mentors. Across my three years of my doctorate, I had my professors at school to help guide me, but also additional mentors that I had met - individuals like Derek Miles and Quinn Henoch - who generously gave me regular things to work on and develop to improve as a clinician and coach.
Across that time I shadowed tons of coaches, physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and many more who allowed me to come, watch, and talk to them. From these experiences I'd help expand my knowledge, refine my skills, and build my thought process.
The coach and clinician I am today is from the varying experiences across the last decade. Reading and learning online is fantastic and can do a lot, but having directed and skilled education is hard to beat. I highly encourage any coach or clinician out there to try and find others to shadow, get a mentor, or do an internship. To this day I still have mentors and go shadow other clinicians, don't stop learning and growing.
If those options don't work for you, reach out to others to build a network to discuss and challenge each other with. I'm incredibly fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life and helping me grow - whether it be my wife (she could make a great physical therapist if she wanted) or my friends who question and challenge me to think more about damn near everything (looking at you Mike Amato and Scot Morrison).
Move often, get stronger, have fun