Therapydia Denver physical therapist Julie Millar takes some time to talk about building connections with her patients, how she spends her Saturday mornings and her favorite piece of wellness adive.
When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?
I always had a love of science and health. Most people don’t know that I had a previous career in laboratory science before becoming a PT. I would enjoy the “fact-finding” missions I had while doing research, but felt I was missing a piece of the human connection. It wasn’t until I had a personal injury that I was exposed to my first PT. Going through the rigor of rehabilitation and having the sense of achievement and teamwork was inspiring to then go through the training to be a PT.
What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?
Growing up in the 1980’s with the boom of dance videos, I can always go with a good Michael Jackson song. I enjoy all kinds of music though, but if you put Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on, I may just break out into the dance.
What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?
It used to be paperwork and working with insurance, however a little perspective has made me appreciate this process. Now I see the biggest challenge is facilitating human behavior to maintain a person’s wellness after a course of treatment. This is something I am passionate about and it is also why I teach Pilates to my patients in order to help people understand the need for continuum of care. It has become mainstream in the world of dentistry to have routine preventative exams and cleanings. I think this should be something that we ALL in physical therapy need to embrace in the world of routine and preventative care for our neuromusculoskeletal systems.
How do you like to stay active?
I love to walk, hike, and do Pilates. When I lived in England over the last few years, I got into Nordic walking, which is a really interesting and low-impact way to achieve fitness. These are my main forms of exercise.
What surprised you the most about the physical therapist profession?
I never expected I would build such strong connections to my patients and clients. Being a PT is one of the privileged health professions that one really gets to know the patients that we spend so much time with over a course of treatment. It brings a smile to my face when I see people improve and start to feel better.
Are you currently pursuing any further education/certifications?
I am currently specializing in Pilates for rehabilitation and wellness. There is no end to continuing education (which I love!), so I am always interested in more courses in furthering my knowledge of movement analysis, pelvic floor rehabilitation, Pilates, and anatomy. I will also be advancing my skill level in trigger point dry needling over the course of the next year.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
A nice scramble of eggs with a little cheese and some leftover roasted cauliflower, avocado on the side, all doused in Cholula hot sauce…yum!
What do you wish everyone knew about physical therapy?
Most people don’t realize the level of education and skill PT’s have in our field. PTs are the experts in the nervous system and musculoskeletal system as it pertains to movement. Additionally, we are trained to know and understand medicine well enough in order to make sure you are with the best type of provider for your treatment. What you learn from us will be valuable and relevant for the rest of your life.
What is the most important personality trait that a therapist must have?
The patience to LISTEN. If I am not taking the time to listen to you, then it will be a fruitless effort.
What do you do to de-stress/unwind?
Breathe and go for walks. Sometimes a nice bubble bath will do the trick.
Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…drinking coffee, making a big breakfast, and slowly taking the time with my husband to get going for a lazy day.
What is your favorite piece of wellness advice to offer?
Try different things that may be outside the box for your particular style. Do what you enjoy the most but also take some mental and physical breaks from your ritual routine every now and again to give your body a chance to learn something different.