Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Experiences: By Dr. Brett Kestenbaum, PT, DPT

A huge thanks the Dr. Meredith Victor, Dr. Brett Kestenbaum, and the gang. Your contributions to Creating a PT have been fantastic. Thanks to Dr. Kestenbaum for this posts. His experiences are very insightful!

      • How was the transition/learning curve coming out of school and starting your first job?
        I took my first job out of school at the hospital where I had my final clinical rotation. Although I was familiar with the staff and the documentation system, I still remember being quite nervous. My first day following orientation was on a Sunday: a day where there was very little PT staff support available to bounce ideas/questions off of. I remember gaining momentum throughout the day. I started the day out slowly and methodically, over-reading charts and over-cautious with my treatments. Towards the end of the day, however, I was able to hit a groove. This pattern continued for quite a while. I made it a goal of mine to learn at least one thing new every day. It took me about 1 month to get somewhat comfortable, 3 months to get pretty comfortable, and 6 months to get comfortable enough where 90% of patient encounters did not make me nervous - rather excited instead.
        • What is your work load like and what is typical day is like for you?
        I work in an acute care hospital where we have a lot of scheduling freedom. I see an average of 8 patients in an 8 hour day. When you are in a hospital, your ability to review charts and understand what is going on with your patient can mean the difference between a positive outcome and something going very wrong. A typical day for me looks like this:

        Arrive at work and settle in

        Check my schedule and determine which OTs have the same patients as I do so we can coordinate treatment

        Review patient information on the EMR (electronic medical records)

        Head up to the floors and begin seeing patients

        Depending on the day I will either see a patient and chart or I may see a few patients and then chart on all of them

        Finish my day, complete my charting, turn in my billing sheet, organize my scheduling board and then head home to work on

        What do you wish you would have known/been prepared for after graduating?

        I feel like I was very prepared coming out of school. I read a lot of books, blogs, etc on subjects I was curious about while still a student (and I have to admit I may have done a lot of this reading during class lectures). I made sure I was knowledgeable about finance, the implications of student loans, and how to make sure I could live the life I desired - growing as a person and as a PT.

        That being said, I would have liked to be more prepared for the simple things, such as how to apply for the NPTE. I feel I would have also benefitted from having a mentor - someone to tell me that PT is a journey that is not defined by this moment. We are professionals who evolve. Every day we have the opportunity to grow and learn something new. I feel this is very important to understand at a deep level. Many decisions are driven from the perspective that life is stagnant. The reality life is a process of personal (and in this case professional) evolution. Understand that you can always change and grow, and you can do great things as a physical therapist.

        • Coming out of school, what was compensation is like/managing student loans, etc?
        Following graduation I picked up a book I had read many years ago. Think and Grow Rich By Napoleon Hill. I followed the principles in the book and thought a lot about what was important to me. I came up with this.

        Freedom to work in the geographical location I desire

        Work somewhere that would allow me to grow as a professional

        Make the most money possible without sacrificing #’s 1 and 2

        From there I created a spreadsheet that helped me discover the minimum amount of money I would need to live the life I wanted. I considered both pay rate and time as variables so that I could either work more (or less) or get paid more.

        I figured out early that working per-diem in an acute care hospital would afford me the freedoms, education, and compensation I desired.

        In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill describes the process of focusing on what you desire, and stating out loud daily what you hope to achieve. Well, after doing all my budget calculations I came up with a specific number, focused on that number and strangely enough… I got offered the EXACT pay that I wanted to the penny.

        Food for thought.

        • Additional thoughts
        Always remember to be yourself and be true to yourself. Yes, you graduated from school as a physical therapist but letting that title define you can be a mistake. You are still a person - an individual. Do what makes you HAPPY, forget the rest, and you will have an exciting and VERY successful career.

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