- How was the transition/learning curve coming out of school and starting your first job?
While I was ready for most situations I faced in the clinic as soon as I graduated, I’m better today than I was before; and I hope I’m better tomorrow than I am today. I was also fortunate to work for & with someone I really admired. Do what I did - work for someone you really admire. And, make yourself indispensable.
- What is your work load like and what is typical day is like for you?
Today I see 1 patient per hour; adding up to about 8-10 patients per day. We tend to share patients between 2 physical therapists - I like this set-up because I can bounce ideas off the other therapist and get their input on what I’m thinking since both of us have direct contact/experience with that particular patient. I really enjoy the mix of chronic pain and neurological cases we see. The environment at our clinic is geared toward progression as clinicians - something I was looking for and am glad I found. About once a week (or more) we chat about patient cases over lunch meetings and exchange ideas on treatment approaches or management of patients.
What do you wish you would have known/been prepared for after graduating?
I wish I had a better grasp of Strength & Conditioning. My opinion is that PT school does not adequately prepare you for real-world strength & conditioning applications. I would strongly encourage you to dig into this after graduation - take as many continuing education courses as you can handle. Additionally, I don’t believe I had enough neuro exposure thru my clinicals. Retrospectively, I should have signed up for a pure neurological setting in one of my clinicals. Every orthopedic case you will see in the clinic has a neurological component - I wish I learned that sooner. It would be to your benefit to explore as many paradigms of treatment as possible until you find the one(s) that yield the best results for your patients.
As mentioned earlier, in a prior location I worked at a stereotypical outpatient clinic where I juggled 3-4 patient per hour. ONe big benefit of that experience was I gained significant exposure to the business facet of running a clinic. Managing a clinic requires a stronger and broader skill-set than I had imagined - I knew it would be challenging, but didn’t grasp just how challenging it can be for an owner-operator. I wish I had a strong understanding of the business aspects of Physical Therapy, but unfortunately PT school didn’t prepare me for this, and I didn’t take the time to learn it on my own prior to graduation.
- Additional Thoughts
2. The occasional lone wolf may outperform, but a collaborative effort elevates the tide that lifts everyone. Contribute to the larger ecosystem that you’re engaged with. Engagement today is significantly more viral than ever before; why not use this virality for the greater good? What you (Dalin) are doing by sharing these quick interviews is a benefit for all readers. I’ve learned quite a bit from some of the individuals you’ve interviewed before me. I’ve even extended “collaboration” into the workplace by viewing myself as “working with”, not “working for” somebody. Start by collaborating locally while gradually growing your sphere of positive influence. And, collaborate with your colleagues across the country via the APTA to create the change you want to see. A rising tide lifts all boats.
3.The proof is in the pudding - in our case, the pudding is the patient. Our process should be based on how our patients respond to our care & interactions. Does it consistently improve your outcomes? If so, then it might be worth pursuing. This is the guiding star for my clinical progress, and I use it as a ruthless filter. This also comes with the added benefits of preventing me from getting too attached to the latest professional & academic zeitgeists. Physio fads, academic themes...all these come & go; but my North Star remains Consistent Patient Outcomes. You’ll never be 100% consistent, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
4. Finally, find a mentor. There’s significant value in seeking and being mentored by someone of experience that you truly admire and with whom you have shared goals/visions. One mentor will (very) rarely fill your needs in more than 1 or 2 of your interests. Find different mentors for your different interests. Leverage their experience, proficiencies, and skills to fast-forward your progress. Then, become a mentor yourself. As a mentor, you realize how much you really don't know! (back to point #1)
Special thanks to Cinema for his willingness to share his insights. For more information about Cinema find him on twitter @Cinema_Air or on his blog at CinemaSays.wordpress.com.
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