The only words to describe my reaction when I learned that my DPT 805 clinical rotation had cancelled was extreme disappoint and fear. This was the last rotation of my career as a doctor of physical therapy student! I vividly can remember back to when we submitted our request for placement and within just two short days my first choice responded with a “yes.” Yes, they would be willing to take me as a student for six months; I was ecstatic! I was the first student to get a reply, and while many other students soon received replies many of the responses they were getting were an answer of “no.” Then just a few months before I was to start at my first choice private practice outpatient clinic, I received the e-mail that everyone dreads, the e-mail I was all too familiar with (as three clinical rotation facilities had cancelled on me for previous rotations). The e-mail read: “Stop by my office at your next earliest convenience as I need to discuss your 805 clinical rotation with you.” While this e-mail stated nothing that would lead one to believe this meant that the clinic had cancelled, I recognized the familiar words from the past and immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Of course, I checked this e-mail late on Friday afternoon and all the professors were gone for the weekend, which left me two and a half days to mull over what this meant and I what my options might be.
Early Monday morning I knocked on my professor’s door only to receive confirmation of what I, in my heart, already knew: my clinical rotation site had cancelled. My only option now was to make my selection from a list of sites that agreed to take a student, but that none of my classmates had taken the offer on. This, from my perspective, was like getting to choose from the left-overs, the rejected sites, those sites that nobody else deemed worthy to accept. So, I did what I thought was best; I began to closely investigate each of the sites by looking at their website, but more importantly looking at comments left on the Moodle site from students that had done a clinical rotation there in the past. Randolph Hospital stuck out like a sore thumb, but in a good way! Every review and comment about this facility and its staff was positive. It seemed as though the students that had been there had nothing but great things to say about their experience. The only problem was, this site was roughly an hour away from where I live. Would the commute be worth it?
Currently, now three weeks into my clinical, I can answer that question with an astounding “yes!” Not only is this clinical rotation as good as I had imagined my first choice to be, I can honestly say that I think it is much better! Despite the commute and the long hours, that often make for a 12+ hour workday, I can’t imagine that any placement could possibly be better than Randolph Hospital. My clinical instructor is more than just an outstanding physical therapist; he truly is a clinical instructor. What I mean by that, is that he is my instructor, my teacher, and my mentor. He shares information with me that is very useful to my clinical practice, he quizzes me and asks me thought provoking questions throughout the day, and he asks me things like: “what do you think went well with the patient” and “what do you think you could have done better or improved on with the patient.” He takes personal time each day to do these things and it is evident that he cares about the experience he creates for his student. In addition to having one of the best clinical instructors possible, the other rehabilitation staff members at the hospital are also amazing. They made me feel at home from the very first day and three of the physical therapists at the hospital are even Elon graduates! Another component of this experience that I am grateful for is the fact that I am blessed to have the experience to work with some really exceptional patients; I am seeing a variety of patients and my patients have been such a pleasure to work with.
It’s only been 3 weeks, but I feel confident to say this is going to be a life changing experience. To think back to how devastated I was when my original site cancelled to where I am now, I want to leave you with this thought: If you find your travel plans on the road of life to change on you unwillingly, take a deep breath, keep your head up, and remember it may be more of a blessing than a curse!