Cathy Yi’s realisation that physical therapy could improve people’s lives led to a career change and a business which is focused on a holistic attitude to health.
What’s your story?
Medically helping people was a definite in my life. After my dorm-mate described how you got to work with a patient with more hands-on time to help them reach their goals, I went to the advisor’s office to change my major at the end of my first year. UF was the only school I was able to apply to after my second year in college and I was able to get in by my third year in college. I’d say that was meant to be with how it unfolded!
What excites you most about your industry?
PT’s are now DPT’s! Three years of post-grad work and it is now Doctoral vs the original Bachelor’s degree — this is a great transition to help us be more autonomous since PT’s rank very closely to orthopedic surgeons for musculoskeletal knowledge. Our scope of practice is expanding to include thrust maneuvers and dry needling, which were not previously known to be in a PT’s realm of interventions! People may still be unaware of what physical therapists do vs a chiropractor, but we are always striving to progress our profession!
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Society has fallen into a belief cycle that your body is expected to hurt as you age and so you learn to deal with it.
Additionally, patients are told ‘nothing can be done’, ‘your images are negative so you’re fine’, and ‘your only option is surgery’ too often. I firmly believe everyone’s bodies shift mechanically; thus, leading to developing pain to chronic pain. Normal is to try some stretches or strengthen something – what I strive for is to help the body restore it’s mechanics so it can function as it should without painful lever arms!
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I only pick continuing education courses that expand upon some sort of manual skill. Each intervention and course has a pearl of knowledge that helps paint the big picture of what needs to be done to help someone’s body part move the way it should without pain. Having my own musculoskeletal issues has also been very insightful; it helps to understand what responds best, how to work above/below the area, and the most efficient way to get results. Lastly, working in 1:1 settings really opened my eyes to how it’s “all connected” to truly resolve an issue.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Boundaries. As a sole practitioner that’s also in healthcare, boundaries are the only thing that keeps you from burning out. It sounds clichéd and maybe overrated, but it’s very true. A caregiver’s personality is to keep compromising themselves to help the patient: feel better, get them scheduled, answer their questions, etc. and you quickly find you have little to no time for yourself. That precious time helps you recoup, rest adequately, re-center yourself, and be able to offer the best of you for treating and helping someone get better. It is a real and true need.
Who inspires you?
My friends that have opened their own small businesses and the valuable knowledge they have learned along the way and graciously imparted to me as I opened. Opening my own clinic so I could treat patients how they deserved to be treated required learning business practice at warp speed.
Additionally, any practitioner that takes a wholistic approach inspires me. There is no denying that the musculoskeletal system affects the nervous system (& vice-versa), which can affect someone systemically. Anyone who is open to how it all works together is inspirational.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I have realized that no one’s hips maintain their full joint mobility, that it leads to decreased and asymmetrical motion, which causes the body’s muscles to shift to one side (and possibly rotate), spreads from the hips to the feet, or spreads from the hips to the head/neck. It is amazing to me how the hips can affect if your feet turn a little too out or in, which could be the real reason you have heel pain; or, that the hips cause your spine to shift/rotate so that your neck tilts and causes your headaches!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would take things slower. Spend more time explaining mechanics along the way of treatment and offer better expectation of how the body will unwind. We all get caught up in the “I want to feel better now” concept and look to squeeze any and everything in to get it to “go away”. Valuable lifestyle changes can be overseen due to lack of full understanding/explanation of how the positions and movements you promote can make the process more efficient as well as prevent return of the issue. Having a patient grasp the full picture makes all the difference.
How do you unwind?
Be by myself: reading, watching a movie, cleaning/organizing, getting odds/ends done, or doing literally nothing.
I also love to unwind by hanging out with friends, working out, taking walks, and browse while strolling an area/shops.
The mixture of alone time and friend time is necessary for the full ‘unwind’!
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
The belief that I could never shift away from a steady paycheck with a full benefits package! Fear is real and strong when it comes to job expectations. I would have never even considered starting something with no assurance of a steady paycheck, much less forage without health insurance! My life allowed for a steadier shift into the unknown. I was still “covered” when shifting into a 1:1 practice, that shifted into staying employed at that practice without benefits, that shifted into my generating my own clients to figure I may as well take the leap!
Everyone in business should read this book:
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell because not all books to grow your business should be just about business. YOU are your business and we all know you can’t change and stay the same.
Shameless plug for your business:
I am 100% hands-on intervention. I feel and watch how you move and assess where your body leans at rest (as well as during movement) to see how it fits together to perpetuate your discomfort. For instance, someone with ankle pain that had a history of surgery to the Achilles would be worked from their hip joint downward, working muscles loose so I can free-up their knee joint, followed by their ankle joint because it’s really their fibula that descended and hindered full ankle motion after having walked in a boot for too long.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.