Learning (Way) Outside the Classroom

Today marks the third week of our clinical experiences for second-year students! It is so great to finally be in the clinic and putting what we have learned over the past year into practice. We are all in an outpatient clinic and from what I have heard from my fellow students, it is going really well so far.

Here are a couple of things I have learned:

1) Research is really important. During our first year we had to learn all there is to know about research. I think many of us thought we were done with research forever, but let me tell you, research never ends! There is so much research out there and as PTs we need to know what it all means and how we implement findings into how we practice. The field of physical therapy is always changing, so it is important to stay on top of recent evidence so that patients can get better faster.

2) Traveling for clinicals is really fun! Many of my classmates are working in local clinics (shout out to those people still holding down the fort in Elon!), but others are in Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Florida. I’m currently in a town right outside of Myrtle Beach, SC and absolutely loving it. I miss my PT school friends, but it’s been nice getting to know the people in my clinic. I am also enjoying walks on the beach, waking up for sunrises and getting to know a new area! If you have the chance to travel on a clinical, do it. You won’t regret it.

3) The practice of PT is different wherever you go. In some states it is legal to practice dry needling, while in other it is considered not within the scope of PT practice and therefore is illegal. My clinical instructor treats about 2-3 patients daily with dry needling. After seeing the immediate dramatic benefits it has given patients, I’m now a die-hard advocate for dry needling to be legalized within the state of NC. It is nice to be exposed to settings in different states to see how PT practice changes among them.

4) I really like the outpatient therapy setting. Each student has to find his or her niche, and I think I have found mine! I love the fun and relaxed environment in an outpatient environment. I also love to see how patients change and progress from visit to visit. We still have two more clinical experiences this year in the acute care and inpatient setting, but I think I have found what is right for me.

5) Being out in the clinic is a lot different than doing case studies in class. I was very nervous the first week to actually put my hands on and treat patients. In class we are put into hypothetical situations and our “patients” are our very strong, healthy and mobile classmates. In the clinic, you are treating real patients with real problems who really want to get better as fast as possible. It is really nerve-racking having to make real decisions about patient care, but I guess that is was being a DOCTOR of Physical Therapy is all about!

And luckily…

6) My clinical instructor (CI) is the best. I’m sure my classmates may say the same thing about their CIs, but I’d have to disagree with them. From day one, my CI has made me feel so comfortable in the clinic. She understands that I am a student and still learning, and is always willing to answer any question I may have…and I have many. She has even made an effort to get to know me outside of the clinic by taking me out to lunch and Costco! The best, right?! Elon has connections with great quality facilities and CIs and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I hope that all students have a CI who is as patient, understanding, and helpful as mine.

 

Talk to ya’ll again soon!

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