The Road to Graduation: Inside the Elon DPT

The Clinical Life


I am just over halfway through my clinical at Brunswick Novant Medical Center.  I thought my first year of classes went by in a whirlwind, but time has not slowed down (at all) since I’ve been at my clinical site! Now that I have been here for a month, I am beginning to feel more at home in my new setting.  A huge part of this is due to my amazing clinical instructor (CI) and the wonder physical therapy staff that I work with at the hospital.  I love working with my patients too and am really going to miss working with them when I have to leave at the end of the month.

In the short time I’ve been at the clinic, I feel more comfortable in my role as a student physical therapist, and I have more confidence in working with my patients.  I’ve also had the opportunity to attend the monthly staff meeting for the physical therapy staff.  At the physical therapy staff meeting this month, I will have the opportunity to do an in-service presentation.  Two weeks before I arrived at the clinic, the facility downsized from 4,000 sq. ft. space into less than 1,000 sq. ft. space.  I will be presenting on “Providing Quality Physical Therapy in Small Spaces with Limited Equipment.” I hope to present the pros and cons of having to downsize not only space, but also equipment.  I look forward to reporting how that goes in the next blog!

In regards to my clinical instructor, she is a wealth of knowledge and what I consider to be a “gem” in the field of PT.  After 36+ years as a physical therapist, she is still passionate about the profession and is active in representing the PT in the community.  Today we had the opportunity to participate in “Career Day” at the community college just a couple of miles from the hospital.  It was truly great experience!  The groups we presented to were made up of students that were enrolled in the early college program, so they were doing a combination of fast track high school and college combined!   These kids go to community college instead of high school and in four years complete their high school requirements while earning an Associate’s Degree.  I believe there were several students in attendance that were very interested in becoming physical therapists one day.

To get them actively engaged in our presentation, I opened both of the sessions by asking the students if any of them had gone to physical therapy.  I was surprised at the number of students that had experienced it firsthand.  These students had gone to PT for a variety of reasons.  For example, one boy had been to PT for 3rd degree burns on his foot, one girl had a condition that caused demylenation of her nerve sheath, and there were several others with various injuries from MVAs and sports related injuries.  They were the ones that were most interested in pursuing a career in PT because they experienced how physical therapy had changed their lives.

I feel that I must share an aspect of the profession that, I have I admit, I am not a fan of… documentation!  When we were told in school that we going to be responsible for a lot of paperwork in our careers as physical therapists, it was an understatement!  While I am thankful that I am becoming more efficient in documenting such things as Medicaid applications, plans of care, and daily therapy logs, it still takes up a larger portion of my workday than I’d like.  It is not unusual for me to stay late several nights a week to complete all the documentation that insurance companies, referring physicians, and the hospital require!  Physical therapy is my second career, so I am very aware that every career has some challenging aspects.  With that said, I’ll take documentation over some of those other challenges any day!