Monthly Archives: September 2013

Trading power walking for Mozart

The first week of September has arrived and for the class of 2014, this means we are back to being the new kids on the block; that is, we are just a few days into our third clinical rotation. Just when I felt as though I were finally getting the ins and outs of acute care down, clinical rotation number two came to an end.  This week it’s new all over again!

As with every clinical experience, my classmates are all over the country (as far away as Illinois and Wisconsin) and some are, once again, out of the country.  I am sure we will have lots to catch up on after being away for so long. I am actually excited to living at home with my husband for the first time on this rotation. This is my first local placement and it feels so good to be home!

On Tuesday, I found my way to the SNF I am at (roughly 40 minutes from Elon), met my new CI, was introduced to several of the patients, and learned that they are to be called “residents” and not patients, as it is a retirement community in which they live. Of course no PT clinical experience would be complete without having to learning a whole new computer software system for entering the plethora of documentation that comes with initial evaluations, treatments, re-evaluation, discharge, billing, G-codes, etc. The software system at my new site is, of course, foreign to me.  Each clinical rotation I’ve done so far has had it’s own unique software system. It makes me think about how difficult it must be for physical therapists, working PRN, to ever become proficient with each system,  as they often work in a variety of settings. Fortunately, the facility I am at now is very organized and they have a binder, for PRN therapists and interns, that guides the user through the software program step by step.

In regards to the atmosphere at my new setting, I must admit that it is taking a bit of an effort, on my part, to switch gears from my previous setting to my current setting. In the extremely fast paced, acute care setting I came from, I had far exceeding my eight week productivity goal before the end of my second week. I am finding my new setting to have a slightly slower pace.  The constant alarms, bells, and beeping of machines connected to lines, leads and tubes has given way to classical music.  When interning in acute care, I would speed walk from one patients room to the next, not get around to taking lunch until two or three in the afternoon, considered myself lucky if I was able to take a quick restroom break, and celebrated the rare occasion when I actually left on time at the end if the day.

At the SNF this week, I actually looked out of place when I walked at the fast pace I had become accustomed to while in the hospital (in acute care). To my surprise, I was able to use the restroom as needed, went to lunch around noon, and was out the door by the designated time of 5:30 pm!  This new environment appears to be very  different  from the one in which I just finished.  While it may take some time to get used to, I think I’m going to like it.

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Time out, then back to the books

What happened to July and August of 2013? You may be asking yourself the same question. Months are going by very quickly!  During those summer months we wrapped up anatomy and pathophysiology; it is hard to believe that aspect of  physical therapy school is finished.  I’m definitely planning on revisiting and brushing up on that information throughout the next years.  As much as I would love to say that my brain is a steel trap…it isn’t.  It’s a bit more free; which I’m finding to have its advantages when needing to think outside the box.  Not one of my classmates is exactly like the other; we all have our strong suits and areas where help is needed. I like this fact.

Before entering into the next module that signals a completely different schedule and thinking process, we basked in the glory of a two-week break at the end of July.  That break was needed to visit with family and friends, refocus, and of course relax. By the end of the weeks I looked forward to heading back south to North Carolina in order to start honing in on the knowledge of PT orthopedic skills.   Although, I wouldn’t mind being back home right now raiding the fridge…

So here we are currently in a new module, new professors, new daily schedule, and new mindset.  We spend the majority of our time in the skills lab working with one another and are typically led with instruction and then given time to practice what we just learned.  I find this type of learning efficient and helpful.  Much of course content is focused on biomechanics and musculoskeletal dysfunction.  By the end of this module we should be able to tackle any case within the musculoskeletal system.  All in all it is preparing us for our next big step into the clinical world come January 2014.   I cannot wait!  Even our daily schedule from 9-5pm is preparing us for long, tough on the mind, days at the clinic.  Not only is this module mentally demanding, it is physically demanding as well. At the beginning of the program we practiced modalities such as hot packs/massage/etc. Sounds nice and relaxing right?  Well, tables have turned.  We have moved on to bigger and better interventions such as spinal mobilizations. The first time a classmate pushes on your spine, all is fine…by the 20th time, your back has had enough. Practice makes perfect so we press on and share in each others pain and glory.  As always, research projects continue to progress and classes such as Imaging and Pharmacology fit their way into our weekly schedule.

Good times to look back on are abundant throughout the months. Although Burlington, NC may not be one of the top cities in the US to live, we are slowly finding the hidden gems like good Greek food, wine tasting and running trails.  We never have trouble finding something to keep us busy outside of the classroom. A group of us tackled a Triathlon in the nearby city of Charlotte; others are hitting the pavement for a marathon in a few months; and a few are jumping in the Atlantic Ocean for an open water swim race in a few weeks.  During the weekdays time is set aside for ‘taco Tuesdays’, Bible study, pick-up basketball and tennis, group runs, group study sessions, favorite TV shows, and of course for Starbucks.  We have a vibrant bunch.

One foot in the water; one foot on land

We are officially halfway through our final internship. The gravity of which is slowly sinking in, especially as we are starting to deal with the details of graduation. Where did the last three years go? I truly can’t believe how quickly it has all gone. I still remember getting ready for PT school like it was yesterday, and arriving on campus to a whole new world and group of people that would become “my people” for this significant chapter of my life. I would not be where I am without them.  (As you can probably sense, three months away from them is making me miss them more than ever!)

As this clinical has progressed, so has responsibility. We are in the midst of taking on a full caseload of patients as well as keeping up with paperwork for school. Sometimes I almost forget that I’m still a student until I’m reminded when I leave the clinic to go to a coffeeshop to do an assignment for school. I realized that during this final internship especially, I have one foot in the water and one foot on land. I’m almost ready to swim in this great ocean of a career (but not quite yet).

Yesterday, I finally spent some time looking at job openings throughout the U.S. I had to take time to reflect on what my strengths and weaknesses in PT are, as well as sort through what setting brings me the most joy and passion. When starting PT school, I was sure of the path I would take. Now, I have endless possibilities ahead of me, I’m more unsure of what my future holds than ever, and yet I feel at peace because I know I have a support system at Elon that will help me whenever I need it. I feel prepared to enter whichever setting I choose and I’m excited by the options. Whatever the future holds, I know how I got to where I am.