S3-E67-A New Way To Get Unstuck From Your Clinical Problems

As physiotherapist’s getting stuck is a regular part of our clinical experience. It’s part of the job.

We’re problem-solving and troubleshooting with every patient we see. The problems we’re solving are complex and change regularly. Whether it’s establishing a diagnosis, or troubleshooting a patient that isn’t progressing, we need to figure out how to help get the best possible outcomes for patients. It can be frustrating and tiring and we need a way to gain clarity in our thinking.

In this episode, I’m going to be talking about a unique way to help you get unstuck with your clinical reasoning. First start by listening to this episode, afterwards head to my blog so you can see a few clinical examples of how I problem solve and create clearer thinking pathways.

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Welcome to the unleash, your best clinical self podcast. I'm your host, Andrew. Copy on. If you're a physiotherapist or other movement professional, who feels like you're stuck in a rut. And my podcast is for you. This podcast is focused on helping you move from frustration to flow in your clinical practice. And each episode I'll share strategies, approaches, and my latest thinking on how to improve your clinical performance. So you keep loving what you do. This is episode number 67. And in this episode, I'm going to be talking about a unique way to help you get unstuck with your clinical reasoning. I also wanted to let you know that I have a newsletter where I dive into topics relating to improving clinical performance, head over to 360 clinician.com to sign up. Before I dive in, I want to share a message from this episode, sponsor Jane app. Jane is an all-in-one practice management software. That offers a fully integrated payment solution called Jane payments. And although the world of payment processing can be complex. Jane payments was built. Make things as simple as possible to help you get paid. So here's how you can get started head over to jane.app forward slash payments. And there you'll be able to book a one-on-one demo with a member of Jane support team. And they'll be able to give you a better sense of how Jane payments can integrate with your practice. And if you're ready to get started, you can sign up for Jane. Use the code 360 1 emo. So for 360 1 month. For a one month grace period, while you settle in. All right. Let's get started. I was thinking about the topic of how we can get stuck in life. And as I was thinking about this topic around how he gets stuck in work and life, It got me thinking about this experience I had as a teenager. My younger brother and I, we loved hiking and we did a lot of hiking in the cascade mountains. Unfortunately the only vehicle we had was our parents Ford Taurus. Not exactly a great vehicle for driving on rutted forestry roads. And one time we had set our sights on this really popular mountain., that we wanted to check out. And we needed to venture on this new forest service road. And we were doing pretty good to time-wise we're, you know, we're getting pretty excited that we're making some good headway. And unfortunately we hit this section where there was a, the road was a bit washed out. It was a deep washboard. And for some reason, we thought that we could actually make it across this with our vehicle. Unfortunately, we got stuck. We had to try to, you know, moved in forward got into reverse. We're sort of rocking back and forth. Couldn't make it work. We had to get out. We had to push the vehicle. Thankfully, we got the vehicle unstuck. And made it back home. Unfortunately it did quite a number on the transmission. And I think the transmission actually had to be replaced at some point down the road there, which my parents were not too thrilled about. Now, when I think about getting unstuck and our work as a healthcare provider, you know, I feel as a physiotherapist, getting stuck oftentimes can feel like a regular part of our clinical experience. It almost feels like part of the job description. You know, we're problem solving. We're troubleshooting with every patient we see. And sometimes these problems can be complex. There's a lot of variables we're dealing with in terms of getting people moving better. Whether it's establishing a diagnosis that feels murky. Or troubleshooting a patient that isn't progressing. I think that there's just so many of these scenarios where we can feel stuck in our thinking and not really know how to. Navigate things. And it can really be frustrating and tiring. And we do need a way to gain clarity in our thinking. Now, obviously having a conversation with a colleague or peer can be a great way to gain clarity, but sometimes we just don't have access to talk to someone. And when we're stuck in our thinking, it's easy to believe that we just don't have enough information to get us through. But what I found in my own experience that it's more often are our ability to gain fresh perspective that helps us to get unstuck. But that's the billion dollar question. How do we gain more perspective? It's just seems elusive. The good news is that I've been experimenting over the last few years with a way to help get unstuck. And it's really the idea of using visual thinking, otherwise known as doodling to help gain clarity with your clinical reasoning. For many of us, doodling is simply a way to pass the time. However, I think what many of us don't think about is that doodling can actually help us improve how we reason clinically. And I found that doodling has been a really powerful way in my own clinical toolkit to sharpen my thinking. Improve my clinical reasoning and accelerate problem solving. Research by Riding in 2009 and Ainsworth in 2011. They showed that doodling is a method that engages different areas of the brain to support concentration, memory, and problem solving. So let's first talk about what is doodling. When I started to dig into this, it's interesting to see what the current definitions of doodling are. And truthfully, they don't really shine a very positive light on this powerful technique. Merriam Webster defines it as an aimless or casual scribble design or sketch. And Wikipedia defines it as drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. Not too flattering. There's a book by Sunni brown, called the doodle revolution. And she felt like there was a lot missing when it came to the definition of doodling. And her revised definition of doodling. One that I literally like is quote, making spontaneous marks to help yourself think end quote. And I love that definition because I think what it does is it allows it to. Become accessible to non-artists. Anyone can make marks on a piece of paper. And I love the purpose of doodling as she defines it to help yourself think, I think that's key regardless of how one doodles or how good it looks. The key is to help us think. We're always thinking as clinicians, there aren't many things that we are using though, to help us think better, especially something that's accessible at any moment in our day. So as I was thinking about doodling and this podcast and what I've been writing about doodling, I think there's five ways that Doolin can help us improve our clinical performance. So number one, it gives our mind space to process. I like to think of doodling as a form of journaling that is more visual but less structured. It's a way to draw out our thoughts and ideas in the moment. What I love about is it slows everything down. It gives the mind space to pause, reflect, and process information without feeling the pressure to come up with an answer right away. And doodling is known to be an effective aid and problem solving because what it does is it helps us to break away from traditional thinking ruts and really opens us up to more creative solutions. Making marks on a piece of paper or a tablet. Engages multiple centers, the brain that allows you to look at a problem from different angles. And allows you to come up with ideas then to think about that you maybe haven't considered before. Number two, it helps you to get out of your head. It's easy to fall into the trap of mulling problems over in one's head. Promise just keep running around in our brains without any progress or conclusion. It's really inefficient and time consuming at the end of the day. But there's something transformative when we can get our thinking out of our heads and onto a piece of paper. And I just find that fresh perspective just comes so much more quickly with doodling than going down those same thinking pathways. Number three. It helps you to see things differently. To solve problems effectively. We do need to see things differently. I found that doodling helps me to see clinical situations in new ways. When I get those key data points from my evaluation about a patient case onto a piece of paper, it allows me to see those potential connections way more, easily and quickly. The process of doodling allows some parts of our brains to relax. So we can tap into other, maybe less used areas of our brains, which ultimately help us to see a problem from a different vantage point. And I would argue that doodling regularly just helps us to retain information better. It helps us to develop that muscle of problem solving. That much more quickly. Number four. It helps you to slow down. Research by Andrati in 2009. They did some research looking at doodling and what they found was that doodling helps to stabilize arousal at an optimal level to support concentration and thinking. And a CML in 2016, that research showed that, doodling helped to reduce stress as measured by cortisol levels. If a stress hormones are high, then our ability to think gets clouded. And so doodling helps us to slow down, allowing us to be able to be in that optimal place of thinking. Number five, it can reveal unexpected connections. When my mind is stuck, I find that it's easy to get fixated on one way of thinking or seeing or doing. When I'm doodling, I often find connections and ideas that I just wouldn't have come up with before. These unexpected connections can help to build on my existing thought processes and really helped me to see the bigger picture. And when you doodle, you're engaging in deep and important information processing. As Sunni brown shares, it's all about connecting neurological pathways with previously disconnected pathways. And she said, when you're concentrating intently, sifting through information conscious and otherwise. You have the opportunity to generate massive insights. All right. So in quick summary, the five ways that doodling can help improve your clinical performance. It gives you that mental space to process. It helps you to get out of your head. It helps you to see things differently. It helps you to slow down and it helps you to reveal connections. Now, the question you may have now is, well, how do I apply doodling to clinical reasoning? First off, I don't think there's any need to have skill in drawing. Doodling is not about creating realistic impressions of your patients or their body parts. It's about helping you think. The doodles you create are for you and you alone. Another thing I always remind myself is the outcome isn't about how pretty it looks. I think we all have this inner critic and unfortunately it becomes very alive and well when it comes to any kind of artistic or creative endeavor. If you find yourself being critical of your doodles, just gently remind yourself this isn't art. This is just to help me think. Another thing I like to do is to keep things simple. When doodling to solve clinical problems, I found that it's helpful to keep the shapes and doodle simple. I like to focus on using simple stick figures. And really basic shapes for body parts. I really like to make sure that nothing requires any kind of artistic flair. When it comes to doodling for improving clinical reasoning, the big thing is to just get started. If you have a patient case where things are feeling a little fuzzy, I'd encourage you to grab a sheet of paper and start to doodle the body area you're dealing with. I'd also encourage you to check out my blog post, where I give some examples of clinical doodles. I've done. Well, thank you for hanging out with me today to hear about how to improve your clinical performance. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify to stay up to date on future episodes. And if you've enjoyed this episode, I truly appreciate you leaving a five star review on iTunes. Here's to less frustration, more flow and better clinical results till next time.

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