2018 Is Coming to a Close Soon: Dare Something Great!

October 1, 2018

In February 2009, I started the “Exercise Physiologists: The 21st Century Healthcare Profession” wordpress.com blog. My first blog was “Exercise as Medicine”, and the first paragraph is the following: “Take comfort in the fact that there is the profession of exercise physiology. Members of the profession are academically prepared to teach others how to benefit from regular exercise. Here, ‘benefit’ also means engaging in exercise safely. Board Certified Exercise Physiologists have the quantitative skills to assess and apply the physiology of decades of science to their clients and patients.” While I have published in a previous blog that goes back many years, the transitions from one location to another and the challenges of life caused them to disappear on the Internet. I still have the older content on paper in my office upstairs.

In February 2011, I posted my thoughts about the “Exercise Physiologist’s Practice” to which I said: “One might point out that the exercise physiology practice, such as the scientific application of ‘exercise as medicine’ to the multitude of mind and body problems, represent the Board Certified Exercise Physiologist’s way of life. Such thinking is based on the resources and work of the ASEP leaders towards the professionalization of exercise physiology.”

In the same blog, last paragraph, I said: “Lastly, let me point out the importance of discerning the will of the students through a better educational curriculum.  The way of the ASEP accreditation highlights the centrality of professionalism and the practice of exercise physiology.  This point is fundamental to the change process as it makes the EPC distinction explicitly different from the non-exercise physiology certifications.  This infusion of new thinking and this new ASEP 21st century perspective represents the practices that will overcome the inertia of past thinking.  Thus, in the end, the work of the ASEP leadership isn’t just about the intellectual illumination of the profession of exercise physiology.  Instead, I believe it points precisely to core of a new healthcare profession; one that will enrich our understanding of the importance of exercise beyond athletics and competition.”

Did I ever say I came up with the original idea that exercise is medicine? No, but I did coin (I would like to think) instead the Exercise Medicine phrase. Why is this important? The answer is simple. You do find yourself saying, Physical is Therapy. You do know there is a Physical Therapy profession! I believe it is possible that the title Exercise Physiology will become Exercise Medicine, that is, for all the non-doctorate prepared exercise physiologists. But, I will write my thoughts on this point in a later blog.

In April 2018, I wrote that “The ASEP leadership believes that exercise physiology is a healthcare profession. They wrote the first-ever Exercise Physiology Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice for Board Certified Exercise Physiologists. After all, acting with integrity and being responsible in communicating healthcare information with a client are critical to upholding the integrity of the profession. They developed the first-ever Accreditation Guidelines for the college degree in exercise physiology. Yet, strange as it might sound, the academic exercise physiologists are slow to support the work of ASEP to achieve a set of standards. It fact, it is strange after ASEP’s 20-year existence that so many college professors recognize the professional ideology, principle, and commitment of physical therapists living up to professionalism, while there is little to no priority to helping ASEP bring attention to professional healthcare services of exercise physiologists.

I believe it is both logical and expected that the students of exercise physiology, who are thought of as future healthcare professionals must graduate from an accredited exercise physiology program. Also, the icing on the cake (according to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists) is that the graduates are expected to sit for the ASEP Board Certification exam (the Certified Exercise Physiologist, CEP). Upon passing the CEP exam, they are expected to refer themselves as a Board Certified Exercise Physiologists. Then, it is believed that the ASEP exercise physiologists have demonstrated their knowledge, expectation, and social responsibility of becoming a healthcare professional.”

In August of 2018, I posted “Have you done everything that you were told to do and then realized none of it made sense. Well, I understand exactly where you are coming from. I was there for decades. It wasn’t until I decided to think for myself that life started to make sense. Trust me, if you think what I just said is senseless, you will come to understand my point in due time. In fact, ask yourself this question: As an exercise physiologist, what is your vision of work and life? Are you living it? Is it presently everything you had hoped it would be? Is there enough joy and pleasure in your life to keep going?”

My point of sharing several key paragraphs previously published in my blog is simply this. You know as well as I do that building a profession from a discipline isn’t easy. It is a long journey of constant work, agreement and disagreement, and transitions. It can be fund, but it can also be dangerous. More often than not, there are disagreements and constant stress about how the new organization should advance, if at all. What I have learned is that there are very few colleagues with the backbone to stay the course. It is much easier to ride the winds of status quo. The reluctance to assume a leadership role in an organization that “appears” to run counter to what is commonly practice is scary for many people. They are fearful of getting into trouble, so they avoid attempting things that are believed necessary by the leadership that sees the shortcomings of yesterday’s thinking.

Of course, there is more to this story than what meets the eye in this October 2018 blog. Much of the work that goes into promoting ASEP is learned by trial and error. One fact is for sure: If key individuals of other organizations can keep their members in the dark regarding the simple fact that a generic organization cannot be a profession-specific organization. As long as the members are kept in the darkness about this point, they are less likely to think about the need for ASEP as “the” professional organization of exercise physiologists. Look around you and listen to what your colleagues are saying about the alternative to “this is the way we have always done it” and you will come to understand the dark side of status quo leadership. Guess what? There isn’t an alternative. That’s right. They don’t understand servant leadership or that you should be allowed to self-direct and integrate personal goals with professional expectations of others. The status quo leaders aren’t concern about “others”. Instead, the truth is they are concerned about what is good for them. They simply fail to get that the issue before them is not about their dogma, but what is in the best interest of (for example) exercise physiology and the students.

The ASEP organization was founded by Dr. Robert A. Robergs and I in 1997. At that time he was a professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and I was a professor and department chair at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. He also understood the standard “stupid” remarks to put a person in his/her place (e.g., “That’s impossible.” “It’s against our policy to do it that way.” “How dare you suggest an idea that runs counter to us.”), and as such, was the reason for his question: “Why has it taken so long for exercise physiologists to become a profession?” In this regards, you should find several of his “selected” comments interesting (http://www.unm.edu/~ rrobergs/philosophy.htm).

“Despite ACSM referring to itself as a sports medicine and exercise science organization, it cannot be both. ACSM has members from a diverse number of disciplines and professions, which was the intention of the founders of this organization. By the very fact that exercise scientists, or even exercise physiologists, do not comprise the total membership, ACSM cannot be a professional organization to exercise physiologists or any other of the exercise sciences. The issue is as simple as that. While these comments (facts!) do not mean that I am against the existence of ACSM, the power figures within ACSM are stubbornly resilient in hindering the needs of exercise physiology and the process for all exercise physiologists to become professionals. I find this attitude to be unprofessional, unethical, and undeserving of my support at this time. ACSM is a great organization that is being run with tremendous disrespect to exercise physiologists.  The problem is not the organization, but the administration of the organization!”

As I sat aside time to think about academic institutions, the faculty and administrators, and the students and their parents, the future is coming. It is tomorrow and then tomorrow it is the next day. Exercise physiologists at all levels must recognize that they are responsible for planning for the future. Why not find the best time in your schedule to think about the future of exercise physiology as a healthcare profession that has the best interests of the students of exercise physiology at heart? Why not upgrade the undergraduate exercise physiology requirements to meet the expectations of the ASEP Board of Accreditation? Why not start thinking differently about the generic certifications versus the profession-specific ASEP Board Certification for Exercise Physiologists?  Why not become an integral part in shaping the ASEP vision and securing ASEP as the professional organization for all exercise physiologists? Why not help set the standards of excellence in exercise physiology as healthcare professionals by speaking out for change to encourage commitment to the exercise medicine unique opportunity for the exercise physiology graduates to start their own Exercise Medicine Clinics?

As Richard Beckhard and Wendy Pritchard said in Changing the Essence, “A vision is a picture of a future state for the organization, a description of what it would like to be a number of years from now. It is a dynamic picture of the organization in the future, as seen by its leadership. It is more than a dream or set of hopes, because top management is demonstrably committed to its realization: it is a commitment.”

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Why is a Vision Important?

August 2, 2018

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.

— Hasidic saying

Have you done everything that you were told to do and then realized none of it made sense. Well, I understand exactly where you are coming from. I was there for decades. It wasn’t until I decided to think for myself that life started to make sense.

Trust me, if you think what I just said is senseless, you will come to understand my point in due time. In fact, ask yourself this question: As an exercise physiologist, what is your vision of work and life? Are you living it? Is it presently everything you had hoped it would be? Is there enough joy and pleasure in your life to keep going?

Answers to these questions are very important to realizing the life that you want to live. In fact, if I could convince college students of anything, I would want them to never underestimate the power of a vision and its influence on the physiology of the mind and body. There is good evidence that being driven by something bigger than everyday this and that can be a powerful influence on one’s inner peace. Why not be honest with yourself so that you can prioritize accordingly?

A vision allows for planning, which is all powerful in identifying your priorities for the months ahead. Hence, it kind of goes without saying that ultimately less energy is lost on unnecessary behaviors when our vision is relevant to transforming the world of exercise physiologists. After all, as J. K. Rowling, a British novelist said, “We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” In short, if we plan to succeed, the chances are we will have a great shot at doing so. But, always remember as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Makes sense, right?

The question is this: How many academic exercise physiologists are committed to the awesome work necessary to make sure their students are successful following graduation into the public sector? Also, another question is this: Will their students have an increased opportunity to be successful healthcare professionals? Hopefully, with their increased awareness of the problems that have kept many from accessing credible careers in healthcare, they can help the graduates become something more than their earlier graduates.

With this in mind, the goal of this small piece is to emphasize the importance of developing a plan. Yes, planning is important to your success after college.  As Malcolm X said, “Tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” With that said, how about this for an example, “Find a job that will allow me to apply what I have learned in my college degree.” For example, you may want to start your own Exercise Medicine Clinic.

If this is your vision, then you may also say that “I will take one or more relevant business courses while in school” or “I will read at least one or two business books that relate to starting a business.” The more you put time into thinking about your future, the more likely you will be in position to accomplish your goals.

Exercise Physiology Professionalism

April 30, 2018

It is common knowledge that medical doctors, physical therapists, and nurses are regarded as professionals. They have one or more college degrees specific to their area of training and work in the public sector. A medical doctor, for example, is expected to have the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively in explaining the patient’s diagnosis and treatment. Of course, aside from the specialized academic knowledge and expertise, society also expects that the “professional” is trustworthy, honest, and compassionate.

Thus, the question is this: Are exercise physiologists recognized as professionals? To be more specific, are they recognized as healthcare professionals? The short answer is “no” – certainly not by most academic exercise physiologists. You may ask, “Why not?”  The ASEP Board Certified Exercise Physiologist has passed a comprehensive certification exam, which is essentially the same process required of the physical therapist. Yes, physical therapists must pass an exam to be a licensed professional.

My point is that while exercise physiologists are not licensed healthcare professionals, they should be acknowledged as professionals. Why, because licensure per se does define who is a professional and who isn’t? Is licensure important? Yes, but it is a step consistent with many different individuals that takes considerable unity among the members of a given group of professionals. At present, there is much work that needs to be done. Fortunately, the ASEP organization has begun the process on behalf of all exercise physiologists.

The ASEP leadership believes that exercise physiology is a healthcare profession. They wrote the first-ever Exercise Physiology Code of Ethics (1) and Standards of Professional Practice (2) for Board Certified Exercise Physiologists. After all, acting with integrity and being responsible in communicating healthcare information with a client are critical to upholding the integrity of the profession. They developed the first-ever Accreditation Guidelines (3) for the college degree in exercise physiology. Yet, strange as it might sound, the academic exercise physiologists are slow to support the work of ASEP to achieve a set of standards. It fact, it is strange after ASEP’s 20-year existence that so many college professors recognize the professional ideology, principle, and commitment of physical therapists living up to professionalism, while there is little to no priority to helping ASEP bring attention to professional healthcare services of exercise physiologists (4).

I believe it is both logical and expected that the students of exercise physiology, who are thought of as future healthcare professionals must graduate from an accredited exercise physiology program. Also, the icing on the cake (according to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists) is that the graduates are expected to sit for the ASEP Board Certification exam (the Certified Exercise Physiologist, CEP). Upon passing the CEP exam, they are expected to refer themselves as a Board Certified Exercise Physiologists. Then, it is believed that the ASEP exercise physiologists have demonstrated their knowledge, expectation, and social responsibility of becoming a healthcare professional.

In medicine, the doctor’s role is unique to prescribing a drug or drugs for a specific disease or disability. In exercise physiology, Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are expected to behave in a likewise manner when prescribing exercise as medicine. In fact, the exercise medicine prescription is uniquely identified with the healthcare professional who has met acceptable standards of respectability, such as the ASEP certification. The ASEP certified exercise physiologists understand the specifics of the prescriptive process, and the importance of individualizing the exercise medicine prescription. Also, they have a strong sense of responsibility, empathy, and doing what is right for their clients and/or patients.

In closing, professionalism is the basis of the exercise physiologists’ contract with society. It demands setting and maintaining standards of competence, integrity, and providing expert exercise medicine advice to society on matters of health, fitness, and rehabilitation. It means that Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are responsible to maintaining their exercise medicine knowledge and clinical laboratory skills, and thus are dedicated to continuous improvement in the client’s quality of healthcare.

References

  1. American Society of Exercise Physiologists. Code of Ethics. (Online). https://www.asep.org/organization/code-ethics/
  2. American Society of Exercise Physiologists. Standards of Practice. (Online). https://www.asep.org/organization/practice/
  3. American Society of Exercise Physiologists. Accreditation Guidelines. (Online). https://www.asep.org/professional-services/accreditation/
  4. Boone, T. (2012). Exercise Physiology As A Healthcare Profession: Tomorrow and Beyond. The Edwin Mellen Press. (Online). https://www.amazon.com/ Exercise-Physiology-As-Healthcare-Profession/dp/0779905679

Speaking the Truth: An Exercise Physiologist’s Perspective

March 24, 2018

In the world of academia, it is important that faculty members speak the truth. In fact, it is critical to their integrity and that of the educational process. But, unfortunately, the context of “what is academia” versus “what we think it is” is significantly different from one semester to the next. What seems to drive “what is true today” is a colleague’s personal agenda or it could be nothing more than gossip.

The majority of new faculty members become so overwhelmed and confused by what they thought was an academic position with a certain freedoms and expectations to think creatively and/or to grow as critical thinkers that they have become guilty of saying, “Whatever, tell me what you want me to do”. More often than not, even if they wanted to disagree with a colleague’s thinking, they would not voice an opinion out loud. Why, no one wants to be put in his or her place. No one likes criticism and yet, how can a person be authentic without speaking from the heart?

Speaking the truth is necessary if we are going to be ourselves, that is, unless we are more like them than what we thought we were. So, think about it, being assertive and passionate about a topic may be exactly what you should be.  For example, if you believe academic exercise physiologists should be members of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP), then forget the small talk and tell whomever (perhaps, the department chair) what you are thinking. After all, you are no longer a student who is more often than not taught to sit and listen (which in itself is questionable). The truth is your presence in the department helps in securing certain rights and expectations.

College teaching should be about an ever-changing way of thinking and doing. So, next time the topic comes up, why not speak truthfully about ASEP or something else close to your heart? There should be no reason for you to be afraid to share your thoughts about professionalism, code of ethics, accreditation, and standards of practice among colleagues and in class with your students. There are probably other teachers and/or students who need your strength to speak up and to take a sincere and honest moment to ask, “Why aren’t we supporting ASEP like the PTs support APTA?”

Whether you are a teacher or a student, you have the right to be yourself. So, next time you feel compelled to speak up, do so and do not be afraid to share your thoughts. It may very well be that other faculty members and/or students may have the same feelings. They may in fact be even more passionate than you about some topics, but they are too afraid to speak up. At times, which may be more often than we think, it is important to share an idea or an observation. By doing so, you may be helping others to share their thoughts and/or different points of view as well.

Lord, What Do You Want Me to Do? Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MAM, MBA, FASEP Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

January 31, 2018

Acts 9:6 says, “So he (Saul), trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’” I wonder how many people have read Saul’s comment and asked the same question. I think you know as I do that there are many different twists and turns we take from high school to college and beyond. If you are like me, you want to do the right thing for the right reason. I know that I have struggled with the question, and I think I have the answer.

For months now, more so than ever before I have asked myself: God, is what I am doing what you want me to do? Stated somewhat differently, as in Micah 6:8: “…To act justly and…to walk humbly with…God.” Yes, I understand God’s commandments. But, what is my purpose in life? Is what I am doing consistent with God’s purpose for my life or is it a misguided selfish desire on behalf of ASEP and exercise physiologists?

Naturally, I want to do what I think is God’s purpose for my existence. I believe God has already created the opportunities to do the impossible? That is, even though ASEP is a small organization, I believe it is consistent with the desire of God to create a professional organization of exercise physiologists. Point in fact, ASEP should have been created decades ago? Therefore, from my point of view, which is the outcome of sensing God’s expectations in my life, ASEP is consistent with the opportunities that have been placed in my path and yours. We are being led by prayer we can only understand as being from God.

The ASEP leaders are doing what they believe is their purpose in life, which is to fulfill the future of exercise physiology on behalf of the students. After all, students need credible market-driven career opportunities to financially survive after college. I also think the leadership is concerned about the fact that far too many adults are living a sedentary lifestyle that increases their likelihood of premature death and disability from chronic diseases. They want to help the adults and others by graduating ASEP Board Certified Exercise Physiologists and the 21st century healthcare professionals to prescribe exercise medicine.

I believe in the ASEP vision, the professional infrastructure, and the credibility steps and procedures the organization has put in place that warrant respect from healthcare professionals. I believe God has influenced the ASEP leadership with the desire to step up to the plate of hard work and discipline to change status quo.

Saul understood this point when God confronted him on the road to Damascus, and He asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” The Lord told him and Saul obeyed and in so doing Saul did things contrary to what he was doing and people did not recognize him. Like Saul, we were created by God for a greater purpose than just existing. God has given each of us knowledge, skills, desires, and talents that He wants us to develop so we can help not only each other, but also those we come in contact with.

As to ASEP, we have the first-ever professional organization for exercise physiologists in the world. It is such a great opportunity to do what has never been done before. We are different from a generic organization. Also, we believe in our purpose, which is to promote professionalism in exercise physiology on behalf of the students of exercise physiology. Hence, if you are an exercise physiologist and asking yourself what God wants you to do, why not pray that God’s Spirit speaks to you.

Why not join ASEP and help us open the eyes and hearts of others to grasp the significance of professionalism in exercise physiology. It is a serious effort to update who we are and what we do. If you understand this point, then join ASEP and help create responsible thinking and behavior on behalf of all exercise physiologists. ASEP is an organization that is committed to serving all exercise physiologists. It is that simple for the leadership.

I believe that I have answered my earlier question, that is, I exist to serve the students of exercise physiology as does ASEP. I am different by time but not by purpose, which is my dedication to encourage all exercise physiologists to step up and join the work of ASEP on behalf of the students of exercise physiology. We are servants of God in pursuit of meeting the needs of others who need our help. So, be bold and pray to God, “Thank you for my purpose in life, thank you Dear God for I know you have plans for me to help others, to give them hope, and to help provide a future for them and their families. In your Son’s Name, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. Amen.”

Develop Your Dream

November 25, 2017

I have heard it said more than once in athletics and academia that if you want to achieve great things, you need to have great ideas. Once you settle on the idea, it is important to begin work towards making it come true. It isn’t complicated, just hard work and more hard work. This means staying the course and not letting anyone and/or anything distract you from living your dream.

So, what are the distractions? They are anything that keeps you from moving forward in seeing your dream become reality. This means staying focused is not just critical to your success, you must also learn to get rid of the distractions or disassociate yourself from them. If it means writing about the distractions that are impossible to put away, then, do it with appropriate reflection regarding alternatives. Remember, the mind can create the necessary alternatives to present-day conditions. Therefore, remove what you can while clarifying and illuminating the differences.

The bottom line is do what is required first, however difficult. If it is urgent to build a boat for survival reasons, build it regardless of the challenges. Do first things first to move closer to realize your vision and attend to other facets of the change process as time and opportunity permits. Do not ask, “What if the boat takes on water?” Think about living and surviving. This means believing that the boat will take you to safety. Similarly, it is the same with other big ideas. If life is too short to live by the rules of a generic organization, then change the rules. For example, when it became clear that exercise physiologists needed their own professional organization approximately a year prior to the founding of ASEP, new thinking emerged that has continued to define exercise physiologists. Remember, if you can dream it, you can build it. It may take longer than you expected, but if you believe in it then it is possible.

The American Society of Exercise Physiologists is a small organization, but its existence allows for living one’s dream now not 40 or 60 years later. No, building an organization that isn’t supported by generic and/or misinformed personalities does not help. It is not an easy task by any means, but if you believe in yourself and you are willing to work, it is achievable. Twenty years ago key individuals could see themselves as Board Certified Exercise Physiologists. Well, it has been the reality of hundreds of young men and women since 2000.

Dreams are possible, particularly when you can see it in your mind and you are willing to work for it. Today, the ASEP organization is all over the Internet with its own website detailing its professional infrastructure from the exercise physiology certification, accreditation, and standards of practice. Yes, today, exercise physiologists are living their dream as healthcare professionals. Eventually, they will also achieve licensure as healthcare practitioners in the practice of prescribing exercise medicine.

The beauty about the existence of ASEP is that college graduates can expect to financially survive, given the opportunity to locate a job in a degree-driven career. That career is “exercise medicine” by way of starting their own Exercise Medicine Clinics to prevent, manage, and treat individuals with chronic diseases. Strangely enough, most Americans are just beginning to appreciate the power of regular exercise to enhance well-being and health (although the relationship between an active lifestyle and health goes back to the Hippocrates in the 5th century BC).

Just imagine, more than 60% of American adults are physically inactive. Forget about 150 minutes of exercise every week. The majority of adults are simply couch potatoes. Yet, that is exactly where the Exercise Physiologists who graduate from an ASEP accredited academic program come into the picture. They are educated to evaluate and work with clients and patients in a safe environment. With an individualize exercise prescription, there will be improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness and protection from chronic diseases. This is an exciting reality, and the ASEP Board of Directors is passionate about the future of exercise physiology, and it is willing to work hard to professionalize exercise physiologists as healthcare professionals.

Exercise Physiology Is a Profession

May 30, 2017

Although exercise physiologists are splintered professionally, those who are members of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) are recognized as healthcare professionals.  They are part of a relatively small but growing profession that has an accredited education, board certification, code of ethics, and standards of practice.

It is important to emphasize is that ASEP exercise physiologists exist to serve society.  As healthcare professionals, they are responsible for a comprehensive delivery of treatment services concerned with the analysis, improvement, and maintenance of the physiological mechanisms underlying physical and mental health and fitness through regular exercise, the prevention and/or treatment of chronic diseases and/or disabilities with exercise medicine, and the professional guidance of athletes and others interested in athletics and sports training.

The ASEP accreditation of academic programs helps to ensure that the exercise physiology students are taught the specifics of an approved 4-year Bachelor of Science knowledge based that is believed prerequisite to advancing the practice of exercise physiologists.  Unfortunately, the diversity of educational programs for fitness instructors, personal trainers, and exercise specialists as well as the inability of academic exercise physiologists and educational programs at all levels to agree with and support ASEP has had a negative influence on the solidarity of the exercise physiology profession.  Whether key groups of individuals and organizations will resolve their differences and reach a resolution in the foreseeable future that is in agreement with the ASEP vision and objectives remains to be seen.

ASEP exercise physiologists, like other professionals, have an ethical responsibility to serve society and, thus the 21st exercise physiology exists with a strong element of altruism.  As a caring profession for clients and patients, the commitment to benefit academically and/or personally by describing exercise physiology as a research discipline is adjusted with an ethical perspective in order to add to its dignity and usefulness as a healthcare profession for the students of exercise physiology.

The ASEP leaders understand the importance of a Code of Ethics, which is why adherence to the Code is expected.  Adherence is based on the belief that exercise physiologists are self-regulated, critical thinkers who are accountable and responsible for their high quality competence in the practice and the delivery of exercise physiology concepts, ideas, and services.

All professions are guided by a set of inter-related concepts, definitions, and propositions of which their knowledge base is built.  This knowledge provides the exercise physiologist the authority to make professional judgments consistent with the ethical obligations of the profession and expected behaviors with clients, colleagues, and others.  Society grants the professional exercise physiologist the powers and obligations to practice exercise physiology.  Members of the profession are responsible for ensuring safe and effective practice.  The exercise physiology standards address the practice and use of exercise medicine in healthcare.

If you don’t try at all, one thing is certain: You will have no say in your future.

January 31, 2017

Throughout life, especially the academic life, faculty members are faced with many decisions.  Would you like to be part of this or that committee?  Are you happy as Director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory?  Would you rather have a cadaver lab instead of 100% class lectures?  Most of the time, we learn to make decisions that are good for us and our students.  But, there are moments when we don’t.  When that happens, we are often very disappointed.  Much of the disappointment comes from our colleagues and their choices.  They aren’t always what they seem to be.  Many men and women teachers suffer at the hands of so-called friends.  I have been told that such is life.  Accept it and move on and at times literally, just packing your office.

The victims of the decisions by the person or persons in the office space to your right and/or left must read The Lord’s Pray.  One very important petition is “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  Throughout my life, this prayer in particular is a life saver.  Yes, regardless of what others do to you, it is imperative that you forgive them and move on with your life in this world and one to come for God will not forgive you if you do not forgive those who sin against you.  That is the bottom line.  Life is all about making choices.  There is no truth or honesty in the so-called friend next door (especially if he or she is interested in what you have).  It is life as I know it today, and it has been my our of life since the beginning of time.

As they say, “Life goes on.”  Or, as my daughter says, “It’s all good.”  Always look for the good in the bad, and regardless of the emotions and the necessity for decision-making about “what now” – remember that most decisions in our selfish world are pressured upon us.  More often than not, we live as we are pressured by circumstances that ultimately shape and, at times, control our lives.  So, whenever the sense of powerlessness comes upon you, smile and look for the good.  It is learning to think this way that moves us into the next phase of life.  Decision making is the freedom that we all need.  It is imperative that we keep the door of opportunity open.  It also keeps us from constant analysis of past events.

Life is too short to spend time thinking about negative and heartless people.  Instead, think about anything else, especially your future even if it seems impossible.  After all, it is your decision to do this or that.  The decision to act can become your reality.  So, don’t confuse it with less important things in life that we can and should turn a deaf ear to.   Our decisions provide us hope and direction and, thus the possibility of choosing a new path or a new opportunity.  For example, if you are really interested in restructuring your life as an exercise physiologist, you must give up the sports medicine rhetoric and turn to a new way of thinking of yourself.

To begin with, what is your academic degree?  Is it exercise science?  If it is, what do you call yourself?  We know that a person with a degree in athletic training calls him- or herself an athletic trainer.  The same thinking is true with the nursing degree (i.e., a nurse) or a physical therapy degree (a physical therapist).  If you have an accounting degree, you have the right to call yourself an accountant.  This point is true for dozens of different degree programs and the respective title used by college graduates.  Interestingly, the exercise science degree does not yield a follow up title.  Just as you wouldn’t get a law degree and, then, refer to yourself as a physical therapist, you cannot get an exercise science degree and call yourself an exercise physiologist.

Yet, that is exactly what happens with many graduates of the exercise science degree.  It is wrong, and it represents the opportunity to make choices that ultimately were founded on the failure to think through the true meaning of the academic major.  There is no simple formula for correcting the mess students find themselves in, except for the decision to apply and see if their list of academic courses allows them to sit for the ASEP Exercise Physiology Certification exam.  The ASEP choice does exist.  There is a way to dig out of from under the academic mess of departmental failures by the chairs/directors, faculty members, and the upper administration who concentrate only one thing – getting promoted and/or tenured or getting the students’ tuition dollars, respectively.

Students must start thinking for themselves.  They must start asking questions, especially about the career-specific (if any) opportunities the academic degree title is linked to.  Otherwise, the consequences are well-defined without much opportunity to locate a credible job without going back to school and acquiring an even larger tuition debt.  Remember, it is your life, your money, your time, and your future that are all on the line.  So, start thinking about your own life and whether the decision to major in a non-career specific major is financially worth the investment.  Taking control means asking questions and doing what is necessary to help ensure that you get the best outcome for yourself and your future family.

Understandably, making the kind of choices I am referring to is rare among college students.  But, it is possible to attain what you desire (and that of your parents as well).  So, take the initiative to help guarantee the results that will be good for everyone.  In the final analysis, it is critical that you remember that, “If you don’t try at all, one thing is certain: You will have no say in your future.”  Since it is important that you have a say in your future – be sure to do one thing.  That is, don’t get blocked from attaining your dreams by associating with teachers who are driven to maintain status quo.  Above all, do not give up your freedom to think and to plan for what you want to become in life after college.

Starting an Exercise Physiology Practice

November 29, 2016

While healthcare isn’t the right career path for every exercise physiologist, it will become the path most will take for several reasons. Yes, starting your own business is stressful and of course there is a risk to doing so. But, what else are you going to do if you decide not to become an entrepreneur? Perhaps, you may want to go graduate school and get a master’s degree in exercise physiology or go into a completely different field (such as nursing or physical therapy). That’s fine too, but honestly not everyone with a degree in exercise physiology is interested in accumulating a larger tuition debt. If you are one of those, then, you will want to find a job. It is then you are likely to realize that working for someone else is not the best job to financially make it, especially if it a person trainer or fitness instructor.

But, as an exercise physiologist who owns his or her exercise medicine clinic, there is hope of financial success. Yes, I understand that opening your own practice is not a topic discussed while you were in college. Most college teachers are not even aware of the importance of doing so much less express concern about your future after college. Rather, they are interested in themselves. That’s the truth. So, what are you going to do? Go back to school because you can’t find a good paying job?  Or, do you have what it takes to start your own exercise medicine practice? If it is the latter, you need to start thinking about a few things.

  1. Where will your practice be located?
  2. How large an office space do you need?
  3. What kind of equipment do you need?
  4. Is the clinic accessible by foot or car?
  5. Will the signage be visible from the streets?
  6. Do you plan to run it on your own or will you have a partner?
  7. What are the advantages of going solo or with a partner?
  8. Will it be a cash-based exercise physiology practice?
  9. Are your services what they should be to benefit the clients and/or patients?
  10. What are the tax fees and implications for a small exercise medicine clinic in your city?
  11. Are there a sufficient number of clients and/or patients to seek out your care?
  12. How about referrals?
  13. How many primary care physicians are willing to refer their patients to your practice?
  14. Do other exercise physiology clinics already exist in your city and community?
  15. What will be your primary practice services?
  16. How will your practice services set your clinic apart from potential competitors?

Answers to these questions will help during the writing of your business plan for an independent and privately owned business. Additional concerns that need answers have to do with investing your own money or financing the business, your plans to hire another exercise physiologist either as an employee or as a partner, and future business goals. Regarding the latter, is the idea of achieving your business goals worth the changes that will take place in personal time and lifestyle? What if the business doesn’t make it? What then? Have you thought about backup plans?

This brief introduction to starting your own business is just the beginning. There is much more, but I think it is worth the opportunity, study, analyze, and follow through, especially since being a healthcare entrepreneur has its advantages. After all, exercise medicine is recognized as a necessary healthcare step in helping to prevent and treat chronic diseases and disabilities. The Board Certified Exercise Physiologist is the healthcare professional educated and trained to safely prescribe exercise medicine.

Exercise Physiology Public Health Entrepreneurs

Board Certified Exercise Physiologists hold an academic degree in exercise physiology or a similar degree with the required course work to successfully pass the Exercise Physiologists Certified exam from the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. This certification confers the title Board Certified Exercise Physiologist. It allows the exercise physiologist the right to practice exercise physiology. The certification acknowledges that the exercise physiologist is prepared to be a primary care exercise physiologist to work with other medical providers.  Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are experts in the use of exercise medicine as a non-invasive treatment therapy that is specific to exercise medicine.  They are poised to work with other healthcare professionals, particularly primary care physicians, either singly or in an integrated setting.

Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are either trained at accredited academic institutions or as graduates who meet the ASEP academic curriculum requirements are allowed to sit for the exam.  The students’ education consists of a comprehensive study of exercise physiology, including anatomy, physiology, electrocardiography, fitness assessment and prescription, exercise metabolism, sports nutrition, biomechanics, research design, and environmental physiology.  The students’ education is unique in that exercise physiologists complete a very extensive academic and hands-laboratory education in the analysis and application of exercise medicine to clients and patients of all ages, gender, and ethnic groups.  Presently, the ASEP accredited academic institutions that graduate exercise physiologists with the opportunity to sit for the exam are Midwestern State University, Marquette University, Long Island University – Brooklyn, West Liberty University, and DeSales University.

Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are educated and uniquely positioned to perform physiological evaluations using laboratory testing and other means of assessment and analysis consistent with the ASEP educational standards for the profession.  They examine each client and/or patient and develop an individualized plan to promote movement by increasing musculoskeletal function, and preventing or treating chronic diseases and disabilities using exercise medicine to restore, maintain, and promote a healthier and more active lifestyle.  Exercise physiology as a healthcare therapy is paid by the client or patient.  Understandably, since Board Certified Exercise Physiologists are not licensed in the United States, their healthcare services are funded by the cash-based service model.

The healthcare services are flexible, yet comprehensive and tailored to the client and/or patient’s needs with no insurance strings attached. The aging population, in particular, with a discretionary income understands the medical reasons for not wanting to live a sedentary lifestyle supports the cash-based service practice.  Exercise physiologists as healthcare entrepreneurs represent the 21st century opportunity for the exercise physiology profession to grow. Their scientific training during school meets current market healthcare needs by promoting health by preventing and treating chronic diseases and disabilities.  Also, they succeed economically, thus contributing to their own economical well-being and success and (because of this fact) the exercise physiology profession benefits from their entrepreneurship. Society is blessed by exercise physiologists who start their own exercise medicine clinics. As exercise physiology entrepreneurs, they understand the importance of helping clients and patients.

The Authentic Life

July 30, 2016

Throughout human history, there has always been the idea of developing something new or better.  For example, one could say there has never been a shortage of new ideas about cars, housing, clothes, web sites, and electronics just to mention the obvious.  There are people who try to get others to think differently, particularly about what can be done to help promote health and well-being.  But, strangely enough, in our own age, there is a crisis within academia that the public appears to be unaware of.  Perhaps, even worse, since colleges and universities shelter and feed students, you would think the administrators and faculty would be doing absolutely everything to make the students’ education relevant and meaningful.

But amid the existence of great buildings, libraries, and other campus facilities there is the problem of academia turning a blind eye to the fact that many academic majors are simply useless.  My point here is rather simple:  Parents send their sons and daughters to college (while some students do it on their own) so that they can find a financially sound job after graduating.  However, when the job connection doesn’t work, students are left with a huge tuition debt with no place to go but back home with their parents.  This means the academic major is meaningless, except of course from having learned a lot about “something” of which there is nonetheless no chance of financially surviving.  Just how smart is that anyway!

It is strange to me that our very own academic institutions and the respective academic programs are governed by illusion and deception.  The great looking buildings are impressive and one believes that serious cerebral activity is going on within the walls of academia.  Cerebral activity that is linked to discovering career possibilities should also be the reality of what we have come to accept as going to college.  Why this reality does not exist is due to academia not being held accountable to the public.  Strangely enough, we tolerate the cultural disconnect, the lack of clarity, and the crooked thinking.  That is, the idea that students would actually be successful in locating a credible job after college is almost never considered, given the academic guise of learning and application.

But, honestly, those of us who have felt the students’ pain up close up for months and even years later know there is a problem within the walls of academia.  Yes, the idea that we can learn and even become an expert in a field of study is great.  We all understand the importance of new thinking and a restlessness to learn as much as we can about many areas of life.  But, the real value in an education is the profound sense of confidence and expectations that come from knowing that the academic degree provides financial opportunity beyond a high school education.  College graduates need to know that when they complete an undergraduate degree, they can become part of our culture without having to move back home with their parents.

Personally, I know that something is missing.  After all, I was a college professor for 44+ years.  The yearning for what I believe the degree is supposed to mean is complicated by the missing opportunities that nothing can replace.  I have always expected to be part of an authentic academic degree, which I created at The College of St. Scholastica in the early 1990s.  Most of us know of good and caring people, who contribute to changing what everyone else says is impossible to do.  Why more people can’t be that way is hard to grasp, especially when authenticity is the best way to live.  Understandably, when questioned, they are quick to put forth a traditional philosophical statement that “this is how things have always been done” or walk away without a word or comment.

Thus, with the lack of communication and clarification, the academic culture creates a sense of hopelessness if not a cry for help from students of all ages who are hopelessly trapped by the inertia of status quo.  Their cry for help goes unnoticed while the message from professors and administrators is clear and unmistakable – we like things the way they are!

On the other hand, the students say in a very low voice, “Don’t tell me nothing should change.  There are thousands of students throughout the United States who need the teachers’ help, kindness, truth, compassion and, yes, love.”  Students are disillusioned and searching for help.  They get that their academic degree in exercise science is not exercise physiology, although they have been told incorrectly that they can call themselves an exercise physiologist.  But, such words are nothing more than a bad dream that keeps haunting the college graduates for they have come to understand the importance of an authentic education.

Is it not possible that the professors want to do the right thing, but the academic infrastructure necessary for promotion and tenure is a distraction that keeps them from walking the narrow path of straight thinking?  Yes, we know the truth but we lack the will or strength of character to align ourselves with the ASEP perspective that supports the universal hunger for professionalism in exercise physiology.  Let us hope and expect that in the near future we will witness the desire to be everything we should be as exercise physiologists and, therefore, do whatever is necessary to come forward and lead exercise physiology with the example of an authentic life.