We’ve almost reached the dog days of summer, and that means that the class of 2016 is already about halfway through our second clinical rotation! For me personally, it’s been a great start to this rotation so far, and I’ve already learned a great deal in these three short weeks. At the same time though, I’ve also been reminded time and time again that there is a MAJOR difference between being a classroom student and a clinical student. For us PT students, being a classroom student means a full day of any combination of lecture and labs as well as a healthy dose of Facebook checking….errr I mean furious note taking! Being a classroom student also generally means a lot of time spent parked in a chair with breaks interspersed where one might eat a snack or leisurely toss the pigskin. So what then, does it look like to be a clinical student?? Well, for starters, the pace is about 100x faster, and there’s obviously less pigskin tossing. Also, whereas in class we have time to write down notes and think on them later, clinical learning often involves having to remember a lot of competing and varied information that has to be applied sometimes immediately. Treatment information has to be recalled quickly for note writing, mental checklists have to be run through, and good grief should I be concerned if my patient’s prothrombin time is high and she has a stat CT ordered (the answer to that question, coincidentally, is yes)??
Now, upon reading that description of clinical learning, you may be thinking “Gosh Luke, that sure does sound pretty crazy!” Well, while it can indeed be crazy at times, it’s also AWESOME. Don’t get me wrong, classroom learning is great and I truly do love book knowledge, but we all came to PT school to be PT’s after all, and our clinicals are where we’re starting to get a real taste of our passion for PT. Also, while I’d certainly have days where I came home exhausted from class, exhaustion has taken on a whole new meaning in a clinical world filled with long days of speed-walking down hospital corridors and rapid-fire learning. However, with that exhaustion comes an incredible sense of knowing that we as mere PT students probably had a bigger impact on someone’s day than we could possibly imagine. Thankful for this opportunity that we all have right now, and keep up the good work class of 2016!