Vol 2 No 5
May, 1998
ISSN 1097-9743
ASEPNewsletter is devoted to informative articles and news items about exercise physiology. It is a monthly magazine of news, opinions, exercise physiology professionals, and events that shape exercise physiology. While it contains views and opinions of the Editor who oversees the ASEP Internet Websites, visitors can have a voice as well. We welcome interested practitioners, researchers, and academicians to e-mail the Publisher their thoughts and ideas or to respond directly via the ASEP Public Forum.
June, 1998
A quote from 
someone I can't remember....
"Most men dream in the dusty recesses of their minds and wake to find their dreams but vanity. Some men dream with their eyes open. These are dangerous men for they are awake to see their dreams come true. "

This, ASEP members did!

Visionary Thinking
Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH
ASEP President
Professor and Chair
Department of Exercise Physiology
College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN 55811

Exercise physiologists have within their grasp the most powerful force possible in creating change. That force is an achievable and compelling vision of the future. To dream is to hope and to believe in something better. It is the opportunity to discover and to achieve excellence and completeness as a profession. But, exercise physiologists must first free themselves from the idea that exercise physiology can grow within the context of a sports medicine philosophy. Only then can exercise physiologists create their own future as professionals in health, fitness, rehabilitation, and sports performance. Only then will there be the opportunity for discussion and analysis of ways to help our BS and MS graduates access better jobs with respect and a salary to pay the bills. Common sense suggests that now is the time to marshal commitment to strengthen and maximize professional growth. With visionary thinking, exercise physiologists have within their power the opportunity to advance new and innovative professional possibilities. It is the sensible link between where exercise physiologists are today and their ability to compete in the job market in the twenty-first century. But, first, what is a vision?

What Is Visionary Thinking?
Visionary thinking is like a dream or something imagined that motivates a person to run (or even win) a 10-K a race or, perhaps, publish a research manuscript in a prestigeous journal. The mind-body connnectedness goes to work to figure out how to do it. The motivation, drive, and willingness to work, to hope, and to believe in possibilities is the power of an idea, a dream, or a vision. It helps to pull resources together to realize a common purpose.

Members of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists have organized to realize the ASEP Vision that they think is realistic, credible, and necessary for exercise physiology professionalization. The vision and the ASEP Goals are without a doubt an attractive, new view of the future for exercise physiologists in the United States. It is about tomorrow and giving shape to decades of a shapeless existence. It is about becoming that which exercise physiologists have hoped for without having defined previously a clear direction of how to get there. It is about calling forth all execise physiologists to stand up and be counted. Each one must contribute his/her part by way of specialized skills, talents, and resources to make a difference.

It may be the personal trainer at the local health and fitness club who points the way toward new job opportunities. It may be the cardiac rehabilitation specialist who sees a way to dramatically increase the application of exercise physiology in the educational-clinical setting. It may be the chair of a department of physical education or human performance who has convinced the administration to offer an academic degree in exercise physiology versus an emphasis. It may be the athletic trainer with an academic background in exercise physiology who understand how and why exercise physiologists (from undergraduate through PhD) are needed (and can be employed) in sports and athletic programs. It may be the exercise physiologist who is working in corporate fitness or health promotion who comes up with an idea so new that a totally different direction is created in hiring exercise physiologists. Or, it may be the shared expertise of the business oriented exercise physiologists who owns his/her business and who consultants, lectures, and educates the public about health, fitness, and risk factor management.

Sooner or later, the wake-up call had to come. Academic exercise physiologists have invested a lot of time in doing research and publishing their work. Non-PhD exercise physiologists have been equally involved in their work outside of the academic setting. They are also professionals who deserve recognition and respect. What is needed, however, is a strong commitment by all exercise physiologists (regardless of their work environment or college degree) to unify and build a better bridge to professional status for all exercise physiologists. In short, academic exercise physiologists should work harder in helping their students access jobs, in obtaining credibility, and professional status. They should work at instilling trust while inspiring and challenging the upcoming exercise physiologists to keep dreaming. Success can be built into the academic exercise physiology (science) programs in the same way that other professional programs have already done.

The Power Behind A Vision
Where does the power come from? Why is an idea so enabling, catching, and moving? It is the hope of something different that an idea or a vision creates. Hope and faith are powerful motivators in creating change and providing for opportunities. With hope, there is always a chance of making progress. The power is in the belief that change will come with the right idea. As a result, people are energized and compelled to commit voluntarily to achieving success.

The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) is such a vision. It is right and timely. It is attractive and gives meaning to many exercise physiologists, particularly to those without the PhD degree. It allows for a shared vision that brings exercise physiologists together with the opportunity to build their self-image and to advance the profession. ASEP allows for a continued existence of exercise physiologists because without a vision of hope and financial survival, non-PhD exercise physiologists may continue to drift in confusion and disappointment.

But, to press the point, the question may be raised, "To what extent are exercise physiologists ready for a vision?" The answer is fairly clear by now. Non-PhD exercise physiologists are having some difficult problems in the job market. Simply stated, there are are enough good jobs and too many of the skills they are prepared to perform are being done by non-exercise physiologists. Hence, there are many indications that a vision is needed to give direction and certainity to what they do. Consider, for example, the following points of concern:

1. Are exercise physiologists concerned about their future?

The short answer is YES, especially given the array of e-mails to ASEP regarding the lack of jobs, poor pay scale, little to no medical coverage, the lack of respect, and the public's misundertanding of who they are and what they do. Their e-mails even speak of PhD exercise physiologists who tell them that they aren't exercise physiologists until they have a master's degree and have published in scientific journals! No wonder they are confused. Just when they need help at graduation from an exercise physiology (science) curriculum, they are told that they aren't exercise physiologists.

2. Are there indications in the hospital settings that working as an exercise physiologist in the clinical setting is getting difficult if not impossible?

YES, it is a challenge for many exercise physiologists who are academically prepared to work with cardiopulmonary patients yet, instead, are subject to assisting the physical therapist assistant! Nurses and occupational therapist prescrib exercise and performing stress tests while exercise physiologists are required to standby. And, if that isn't enough, they have to endure questions such as, "What do you do around here?" or "Are you a coach or physical education teacher?"

3. Are exercise physiologists more likely today to say what they think about sports medicine organizations, especially whether they are sports medicine organizations per se versus a combination of sports medicine and exercise science?"

The answer is, again, YES. However, it is still interesting how PhD exercise physiologists seem to still confuse sports medicine with exercise physiology and, unfortunately, many sports medicine personalities fail completely in acknowledging responsibility to the exercise physiology profession!

4. Are there graduates of exercise science academic programs who are unhappy about their career choice, particularly being an exercise physiologists?

YES, there is less pride today than five years ago. The sense of commitment to exercise physiology is not the same. In time, if the PhD academic exercise physiologists do not address this issue, there may well be a larger issue to face. Fewer students will mean fewer academic jobs for the PhDs!

5. Is there a feeling within sports medicine that equals an unwillingness to step up and address the exercise physiology professionalization issues?

YES. Much of what sports medicine has not done for exercise physiologists is in keeping with the development of sports medicine. In fact, there is little question that a strong relationship exists between the sports medicine/doctor emphasis by medical professionals from different fields of study and the lack of an emphasis on exercise physiology.

6. Are there exercise physiologists who are no longer supportive of the shared sports medicine/exercise science vision and direction?

YES. Interestingly, sport medicine organizations and their directors refuse to acknowledge that exercise physiologists are not given the same support. In fact, they refer to the exercise physiology as exercise science and, yet everyone of the exercise physiologists who have written texts for the profession use the title -- Exercise Physiology." It appears that sports medicine personalities are interested in only their definition of exercise physiology. However, clearly, their title of who is an exercise physiologist and their definition of what exercise physiologists do are grossly inappropriate and inadequate. Unfortunately, the few exercise physiologists in sports medicine who have tried to look objectively at the future of the exercise physiology profession have had relatively little impact.

Clearly, time is right to choose a new direction. Exercise physiologists must be visionary thinkers. To start with, they need to break from the sports medicine consensus of what constitutes an exercise physiologist. Also, they should learn that it is okay to disagree without being wrong. They do not have to be subject to "group think" that requires a strong commitment to support the apparent majority at the expense of other members in the organization. Discord and contrary points of view are okay in a democratic society. Exercise physiologists (with or without the PhD) have no reason to censor themselves when doubts surface and concerns become obvious.

When Is Visionary Thinking Right?
Stated differently, how does the exercise physiologist know when he/she is supporting the right vision? To answer the question, consider the reasons for the vision.

1. Will exercise physiologists benefit from ASEP's efforts to professionalize the field? If the answer is YES, then the vision is right.

2. Will ASEP require new standards of performance (i.e., outcomes and code of ethics)? If the answer is YES, the vision is right.

3. Will ASEP clarify what exercise physiologists do, the education that is required, and the significance of certification? If the answer is YES, the vision is correct.

4. Will ASEP increase credibility, and will membership facilitate credibility (i.e., via ASEP academic accreditation)? If the answer is YES, the vision is right.

5. Will ASEP result in a more focused, reflective, and professional understanding of the differences between sports medicine and exercise physiologists? If YES, then it is right.

6. Will ASEP reflect the strengths and uniqueness of exercise physiologists? If YES, the vision is right.

7. Will the ASEP vision require Society members to share in sacrificing time and effort to growth as well as the possibility of failure? If YES, then it is right.

Clearly, The ASEP Vision Is Important?

Exercise Physiologists Have Rights!
Good people not only deserve good visionary thinking, but the thinking must be believable, credible, and truthful. It is not business-as-usual with the usual mistakes. Rather, it is a reaching and growing statement with a destination (end result) in mind. Visionary thinking is unique and refreshing. It fosters pride and allows for the attitude, "We are important, and have a right to our future." And, in this context, the reader may want to refer to ASEP vs. ACSM.

The RIGHT VISION is a collaborative action requiring an active role and support of as many exercise physiologists as possible. In short, it comes down to a statement by John M. Richardson, Jr. "When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened." Exercise physiologists are people who make it happen. That is part of their heritage. They are committed to visionary thinking, therefore, they will want to participate and will do so freely without coercion or manipulation. They will want to continue living the vision that got its start in physical education departments all across the United States.

As leaders in the fitness, health, rehabilitation, and sports/athletics fields of study, they will want to be a deliberate part of the change in the direction exercise physiology is moving. They understand loyalty, self-sacrifice, and persistence, and are willing to trust in their sense of what is right, and thus move forwards in implementing ASEP stability.

As Walt Disney said, "If you can dream it, you can do it," Visionary thinking is dreaming and hoping and believing that it can be done. It is taking a chance and achieving shared excellence. All exercise physiologists have to do is dream the dream and put their full resources and commitment behind it.

For examples of DEDICATED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGISTS who are working on behalf of the Society, click on the internet page that lists the different ASEP committees and the membership in each.

Should you have a different view of this subject or something to add that other ASEP readers would find important, please consider posting your comments via the ASEP Public Forum. Its FREE! 

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