A Physical Therapist’s Many Roles

Hey there, everybody.  I cannot believe that January 2010 is over.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to this new year.  A lot has happened for me this past month.

I started my first clinical on January 4th, so today I am just past mid-term.  My clinical ends on February 26th.  Being out in the clinic has been such a wonderful experience.  It has been a total change of pace from sitting in class all day long.  What I have loved the most is all the interaction and face-to-face time with patients and colleagues that I work with in the clinic.  I have had so many wonderful opportunities to connect with patients…connecting with them as their physical therapist, as well as connecting with them just as someone they can trust and talk to.  Providing an environment where the patient feels respected and safe is of primary importance.

I have had some patients that, either due to chronic pain or due to troubling circumstances in their lives, really just needed someone who would listen to them, who was invested in them as a person, and who really cared about them.  Those times over these past four weeks have taught me more and meant more to me than anything.  Being a physical therapist does not just involve expertise in regards to anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and physical rehabilitation, but also involves the ability and desire to really connect with patients, and, in a way, be an unofficial counselor to them, listening, validating, and encouraging them.

Throughout this experience, I have learned so much about the practice of physical therapy from my clinical instructor (CI) and from the other PTs that work in the clinic.  I have been working at a small private outpatient practice, which has been a great place to start out because of the slower pace and more opportunities to really talk with my CI and the other PTs.  I have been challenged throughout the course of my clinical, but have never felt overwhelmed because I have not been expected to perform any services to which I was unfamiliar or uncomfortable.  My CI has been such a great teacher, explaining her rationale and guiding me through circumstances or techniques to which I was unfamiliar.

I was incredibly nervous before the first day of my clinical just because I knew I had studied and learned so much my first year, but I didn’t know how that was going to translate to me actually putting it into practice in the clinic.  But the thing is, my CI and the other PTs know that I am just a student on my first clinical, so they have expected me to be just that: a student: to learn, to challenge myself, to try things out, and to develop a confidence in my abilities as a student physical therapist.  I have had wonderful opportunities to practice what I learned in school, as well as many unique opportunities to think outside the box in learning about different approaches to physical therapy that I had not been exposed to in class.

All in all, this has been a wonderful 1st month of the new year, and a wonderful first month of my second year as a DPT student at Elon.  I have already learned so much through this opportunity in the clinic, and am so thankful that I am able to be out in the clinic right now with the non-threatening opportunity to practice my skills as a PT.  I still have more to learn than I can ever imagine ☺ but I am developing confidence in myself as a physical therapist and have even a deeper motivation to really integrate the information I have learned and the information I still have to learn into my knowledge base so that I may provide my future patients with the best care possible.

I think one of the most valuable things I have really started to appreciate this past month is the importance of keeping your mind open to all the possibilities regarding my approach to physical therapy, motivated by my desire to find and implement the best and most effective care for my future patients.

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One response to “A Physical Therapist’s Many Roles

  1. sheletha richmond

    Truly admire your determination, you have a lot to gain through this experience and will have even more to give…i found your comments inspiring and reassurring in the long road ahead of me upon entering into the program in the upcoming spring of the new year. Uncertain of which school is the best for me. Your comments are greatly appreciated and i look forward to hearing from you soon.

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