Living in Italy: Continued Transitions and Acclimation

I am writing from my clinic in Italy as we finally got access to the computers and Internet as of yesterday.  Its still a bit surreal that I have been out of the States for almost three weeks now.

My 2nd clinical ended very well with much more knowledge and confidence in acute care than I started out with. I guess that’s to be expected, but its always a comforting realization considering the time and effort put into those two months.

The day after my clinical ended, I boarded my plane for Italy for a week of traveling prior to my classmates arrival. We traveled up to the mountains of Tuscany to a small village (Gavinana) that is connected with the city of Pistoia.  We received a short tour of the facilities of Fondazione F. Turati and our new home/work for the following eight weeks. The clinic is an inpatient rehabilitation center with additional units for long-term, coma, and “pediatric” care. The “pediatrics” are almost all middle-aged patients that have grown up in the facility due to developmental difficulties that have been taken in by the facility. We work in inpatient rehab the majority of time but have opportunities to observe (and live among) all of the patients.

The first 1.5 weeks of clinical have been a total whirlwind of transition.  New clinicals always bring about a new set of challenges but my classmate and I have faced a whole new beast with this experience: continual learning/practicing a foreign language with both our patients and our coworkers, differences in Italian healthcare/culture/physiotherapy practice, a new clinical setting, and then the additional challenges of living in a foreign (and remote) country.  Each day is fairly exhausting and requires constant prepping and practice, but I am so grateful for this opportunity. Our CIs and other therapists are very knowlegeable, skilled, and fun, and the setting provides an chance for more continuity in care.

The Italian culture and language (and attempts at communication and mistranslations) have brought much laughter to all and we (patients, therapists, and ourselves) have practiced patience and an easygoing attitude.  Our patients are incredibly loving despite our lack of communication and constantly rub our faces and kiss our cheeks in gratitude, and always wave at us as we walk through the facility.  We have even been asked to join patients for afternoon coffee, night conversation, and TV watching (the perks of living among your patients).

Although this has been one of the most challenging experiences I have had in PT, I feel very lucky for this learning experience and appreciate the graciousness this we have received here.

And not to worry, we are making the most of our weekends and have visited the Cinque Terre and Siena so far, and will be heading to Venice this weekend.

Missing the States but living it up here!


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