Why Starting Your Case Report Now Is the Best Decision You’ll Make

As we discussed previously in Ep. 244, case reports are one of the most important ways we can advance cancer rehab.  By sharing your knowledge & experience, you’re helping other PTs & cancer rehab professionals better treat their own patients with cancer.  

Now I know what you’re probably thinking right now: “Elise, my ABPTS case report isn’t due for another couple months.  Why are we talking about case reports now?”

The reality is, you need to start your case report TODAY.  Writing your case report is a time-consuming & challenging process.  By waiting until next month or god forbid the week before it’s due, you’re just asking for disaster.  Starting your case report NOW can help you avoid common pitfalls and produce a high-quality report that advances oncology physical therapy.

Writing your case report will take longer than you think.

When I first started writing my case report (back in 2020), I budgeted 2 weeks from start to finish.  Plenty of time, right?

I was way off – it took me the full 2 weeks to crank out a first draft.  To my relief, ABPTS extended their deadline by 3 months to accommodate the chaos of COVID.  Again, plenty of time to finish my case report right?  

Again wrong.  Instead of starting my case report & finishing it, I again waited until the last minute, frantically reformatting, editing, revising, incorporating very last-minute feedback from my readers (thank you Sruti), until I finally submitted my case report at the 11th hour.  

Most writers will account for the “writing” part of writing a case report.  But you’re most likely to forget or underestimate the time needed for editing, revising, editing again, proofreading, & formatting.  

And whatever you do, make sure you have at least another set of eyes to read your case report.  Even the best writer will make silly mistakes.  You’re so close to your case & your writing, that you’ll often gloss over errors that someone else will catch – if they have the time.

Just because it takes you 10 minutes to read your case report, doesn’t mean that your reviewer can read it in one evening.  You need to budget at least a week for your reviewer to read, re-read, & comment on your case report.  

Early start = better quality

Writing a case report is a complex task that requires a significant amount of time and effort. Many PTs underestimate the time it takes to write their case report and end up rushing to complete it at the last minute. This can result in errors, omissions, and a lack of attention to detail, which can compromise the quality of the case report.

Many PTs don’t realize that if your case report doesn’t pass the reviewer panel, you can’t take the specialty exam.  

If your case report does require corrections, it’s not the end of the world.  But it can definitely increase your stress.  For example, my case report needed some silly corrections such as redefining abbreviations & taking out ampersands.  

To write a better case report, you should start working on your case report as early as possible. By giving yourself enough time to collect and analyze patient notes, format the report, & get feedback from colleagues, you can ensure that your case report is accurate, detailed, and well-written.  Plus, you’ll have a clearer mind (less stress) to critically think about your case & what information is most important to communicate in your case report.

Breaking the writing process into smaller tasks, setting achievable goals, and utilizing tools such as project management software can help you stay organized & on track.

One of my previous students, Shai, had a very limited time frame to write his case report: between working full-time, buying a house, working on his car, & spending time with his dog, he didn’t have hours & months to spend writing his case report.  So he got started as soon as the exam cycle opened, finished his case report, submitted, & still had time to enjoy his summer.  Plus, he didn’t have to do any corrections on his case report.  Yep – accepted & approved on the first try.

Procrastination can lead to errors

Procrastination is a common challenge faced by physical therapists when it comes to writing case reports. Waiting until the last minute to start a case report can lead to errors and inaccuracies, as well as compromise the validity of the report.

You may be thinking, if I wait until the last minute, I’ll be wiser or I’ll be forced to get it done in a compact timeframe.

When you rush to complete a report, you may overlook important details or skip essential steps in the writing process, such as data analysis or a comprehensive literature research. This can lead to mistakes or inaccuracies in your case report, which can compromise its validity and usefulness. For example, if you fail to include relevant details about a patient’s medical history or treatment plan, your case report may not provide a comprehensive overview of the case, making it difficult for other healthcare professionals to learn from it or apply similar approaches.

In addition to errors and inaccuracies, procrastination can also result in missed opportunities to report critical findings and insights. By delaying the writing process, you may miss the chance to document important observations or identify trends that could contribute to the field of oncology physical therapy. For instance, if you fail to document a unique treatment approach or intervention, other healthcare professionals may miss out on an opportunity to learn from the case and potentially improve patient outcomes.  

Moreover, procrastination can compromise the quality of your case report, making it less likely to be accepted for publication. By rushing to complete a report, you may neglect specific formatting requirements or overlook essential sections, such as the dreaded CARE statement. This can make the report appear unprofessional or incomplete, reducing its chances of being accepted for publication or for your ABPTS oncology application.

And remember: if your case report doesn’t pass the reviewer panel, you can’t take the specialty exam.  

When I was finalizing my case report THE DAY BEFORE IT WAS DUE, I realized I forgot to update my references.  In the process of editing & rearranging my case report, my references were ALL out of order.  I then had to spend multiple hours fixing this, all of which could have been avoided if I hadn’t procrastinated. 

In summary, procrastination can lead to errors, inaccuracies, missed opportunities, and a compromised quality of the case report. You should prioritize your case report & start writing as early as possible to avoid rushing and ensure that your case report is accurate, comprehensive, and well-written. To get started writing your case report today, register for Case Report Writing Workshop!

Start Your Case Report TODAY

In conclusion, writing your case report is a time-consuming and challenging process that requires a significant amount of effort. You must be aware of the potential challenges that can delay the writing process and plan accordingly to avoid rushing and compromising the quality of your case report. By starting early and implementing a proven plan, you can write a high-quality case report that helps other rehab pros better help their patients with cancer AND qualify to sit for the oncology specialty certification exam.

Register for Case Report Writing Workshop today!

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

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