The Future Is Bright!

It’s a week since we returned from the Student Representatives Development Weekend (#SRDW16) hosted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in Leeds, UK.  I posted my presentation here last week and following a week of reflection I still find myself pondering the talent, motivation and engagement that the students showed us that challenging afternoon.

Our session titled “Physiotherapy Futures” aimed to explore new innovations in technology, how these may impact and disrupt our profession, and then to build ideas and business proposals around them.  The aim was to challenge, provoke and entertain as well as to develop skills in leadership, innovation, effective communication, decision making and teamwork. We wanted to challenge everyone (including ourselves!) in a dynamic fun session.

For the first 90 mins we explored new technology.  In small groups with a provided technological innovation they were to discuss the following points and then present back to the room:

  1. Summarise the technology or issue?
  2. What are the opportunities this technology / issue presents to the profession?
  3. What are the threats this technology / issue presents to the profession?
  4. What is the probability that the scenarios you identify are going to happen and within what timescales (1, 5, 10, 20, 50 years)?

Having discussed nanobots, human longevity, virtual reality, genomics, artificial intelligence, robotics and much more people seemed either completely enthused by opportunity or rather jaded at the threats presenting itself to our profession.  It must be remembered that these are not threats, they are opportunities!  We need to embrace new developments that are currently happening outside of our profession and proactively apply them to our own profession before someone else beats us to it.

In the second 90mins of our session we took the ideas that were exposed from our previous exploration and developed them into business propositions.  Again in small groups the students created an elevator pitch for their idea and also prepared a longer pitch in case they made it to the final.  Elevator pitches were presented in larger groups with the winning pitch becoming one of four ideas that were presented to the whole room in the final.

This was challenging for all!  The groups were large, one with around 30 people in it, and we left them to mange the task on their own.  We were thoroughly impressed that everyone quickly and efficiently completed the task and saw some clear and impressive demonstrations of communication and leadership at this time. Sorting out a three way tie seemed to be the greatest challenge of the afternoon! 

All of the ideas that we heard that afternoon had obviously embraced some of the thought processes that we had tried to encourage.  Embrace change, think into the future, go crazy!  It’s a shame we didn’t get to hear them all as I am sure there were many great ideas in the room that didn’t get exposed and probably even a viable business proposition.

Over the next 10 years we’ll see an acceleration in the rate of technological change and an extraordinary transformation in our profession.  Peter Diamiandis makes 8 predictions for the world in 2025 which is well worth a read to provoke your thinking. These developments in technology will radically influence how we as professionals work in the future.  The Economist in Oct 2015 stated that “Professions will change more in the next quarter-century than they have in the previous three”.  We need to be aware of this, we need to be ready for this, we need to act now.

The students we worked with that afternoon in Leeds were completely amazing.  The level of engagement, motivation and op to change was refreshing to see in our profession.  Students of today you are the future, when these technologies hit you will be at the prime of your career, you will need to embrace them.  Make them work for us, make them a part of our profession, let’s lead the way of the health care professionals. You are our future, the future is bright! Thank you!!