This article provides my thoughts after completing my first physical therapy clinical rotation. It reflects on the highs and lows, with an overarching positive experience which brings me to be excited for my future as a physical therapist. I hope this can bring encouragement to others in a similar situation.
With my first clinical experience being over I have a lot to reflect on. Even in such a short span as two weeks there still have been a lot of highs and lows, a lot of success and failure, a lot of progression and regression. But overall, looking at how this clinical progressed and how it concluded I can say that this was a positive experience full of learning and growth.
My first four weeks really brought out the personal challenges I faced with being on clinical. These challenges being a lack of confidence and a lack of outgoingness in relation to patients and coworkers in the clinic, as I had reflected in my mid term paper. From around the fourth week and onward I started to see improvement as I was challenged by my CI to grow in these areas. It was not every day that I was improving, as there were still a good mix of days throughout the remaining weeks where I would not be in a good groove and would revert to my quiet & unconfident ways. Or I might be alert and showing improvement for part of the day then regress back the rest of the day. But it was a continuous slope upwards, which had its dips downward, but overall, still leading to an increasing elevation of improvement.
Early on in my clinical or on some off days, I would start with my assigned patients by hesitating to get them from the lobby out of uncertainty of how the session would go. I would speak to them quietly, making little conversation throughout the treatment. I would perform manual therapy, give exercises, and educate hesitantly, looking to my CI to make sure I was doing everything right. Not to say I shouldn’t make sure I am doing things right and ask for help, but sometimes I need to realize I know what I’m doing or I know what to say and just go for it.
Later in my clinical or on my good days, I would be better prepared with research-based protocol for my patients assigned to me. I would quickly head out to pick up my patients from the lobby without hesitating and try not to overthink it. I would speak loudly & clearly, making conversation throughout treatment. I would confidently take a patient through manual therapy, exercises with progressions and regressions, and education. I had fun with my patients and looked forward to them coming in, developing a good rapport with those I saw frequently. My last two days in the clinic were the most fun I had all clinical. Talking about interesting mammal facts, how my roommate ate chicken feet, and more all while providing effective treatment for patients. Being able to see a patient post-op TKA hop for the first time since the surgery and be so excited to do so was very rewarding. Being able to guide these patients through the process of recovery and seeing them improve brings me a lot of joy.
As I think of my road to becoming a skilled physical therapist, I recognize that it is challenging and requires sacrifice. On this road there is a lot to learn in a short period of time, along with trial and error as I start working as a physical therapist. But If I think to the little moments of joy for a patient that I experienced while on clinical, then it will be so worth it. In every one of these challenging moments having in mind that these skills will help people live better lives. I want to become the best physical therapist I possibly can, putting patients above myself and seeing the fruit of recovery produced. This clinical has given me snapshots into the future and I am excited to see how I can continue to grow and help others live their best possible lives.