Monthly Archives: April 2016

Together Again

Greetings, friends!

The second-year PT students are back at Elon post-clinical and the Neuro module is in full swing! We spent January and February on clinical; we were on our feet all day treating patients, and getting a taste of the real world of PT. A majority of my class was in the outpatient orthopedic setting; by the end of the clinical, we were all able to carry 75 percent of an entry-level PT’s caseload! It is pretty cool to see how much we have learned and how far we have come over the course of a year.

I am not going to lie; I really miss working in the clinic! I was in an outpatient orthopedic clinic near Myrtle Beach. I learned so much about patient care and treatment, and therapeutic interventions from the PTs and PTAs I worked with. My clinical instructor was one of the kindest and most patient people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was so encouraging and wanted me to get the most out of my clinical experience. She also provided me with the wonderful opportunity to observe total hip and knee replacement surgeries. It was a very bloody, but absolutely amazing experience. My clinical instructor made me feel like home in a place where I knew no one. She invited me out to dinner with her family, and we even (and the other lady PTs) went to a painting and wine event!

But alas, we are out of the clinic and back in the classroom. Although I miss the clinic, it is wonderful to have our PT family back together again! March was definitely a transition month for my class. We all had the time to share great/funny/sad stories of our clinical experiences, but had to quickly get back into study mode.

But not too quickly!

March is the one time of year where all three PT cohorts are together at the Francis Center. It is really cool to see the Francis Center hustling and bustling with brilliant minds! We all had time to mingle amongst each other while eating pizza provided by the PT department, and the new first-year class seems like a fun and smart bunch of people!

I know I talk about this a lot, but PT friends become family. I can already see it happening in the first-year class! We spend Saturdays at the coffee shops together, go camping together, and work out together. Some of us weren’t able to spend Easter with our families back in other states, but it was OK because we had our PT families here. We also know how to be competitive with each other and had another successful year of March Madness together. Third place for this girl!

Now back to good stuff…NEURO!

Instead of learning about ACL and rotator cuff tears like last fall during our orthopedic module, we are now learning about dysdiadochokinesia, homonymous hemianopsia, and habenulointerpeduncular tracts amongst other things. Neuro is another language. It’s difficult, but it is all right because we have Dr. Folger and Dr. Andrews there to interpret it all for us. They simplify neuroscience as much as they can to make it easier for us to understand. We also draw a lot to help us make sense of things within the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m going to PT school to be a physical therapist or to be an artist!

Prior to PT school I didn’t understand how much diversity there is within the field of physical therapy. Treating a patient with orthopedic injuries is so different than caring for a patient who presents with neurological deficits. Patients need physical therapy is a variety of different settings: outpatient, inpatient, sub-acute, acute, skilled nursing facilities, home health, and more! Each and every day as a physical therapist is different which makes the career very exciting! Each patient presents with a different problem and individual needs; however, PTs have one common goal for all patients and that is to improve their quality of life. It is a lot of information for us students to learn, but with the help of our professors, it is exciting to know we will be able to confidently treat anyone with a physical ailment by the end of next year.

In order to do this, however, I must get back to studying! Until next time…

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Focus on the Person, Not the Number

One of the things that I love most about our PT program here at Elon is the large number of opportunities that we have to interact with people in the Elon/Burlington community. From actors that come into school to serve as standardized patients to the residents at local retirement communities, we are blessed to learn so much through our interactions with these great people. During one recent interaction as a part of our geriatrics course, a classmate and I performed a one rep max assessment with an individual from one of our local retirement communities. As we were completing the assessment, she said that while she knew the intent of the session was for us to share information with her, she turned the tables on us and informed us that she had something of her own that she wanted to share. She told us of a negative health care experience that she had recently had where the individuals delivering her treatment made her feel like just another number in a long list of patients that needed to be seen. Urging us strongly to avoid this mentality at all cost, she told us instead to always remember that we are working with people and that we therefore have an obligation to treat every person with genuine care and respect.

 

I loved this interaction not only because we received some timely and important advice but also because it reminded me that the people that I treat often have more of an impact on me that I have on them. Yes, PT is undeniably about using the skills and knowledge we have accumulated to make physical improvements in people’s lives; but perhaps more importantly, it is also about building relationships and making sure that each of our patients knows that we don’t view them as just another number. Here’s to many years of building awesome relationships through PT!