Monday, August 31, 2015

Experiences: Clay Case PT, DPT, CSCS

Clay Case PT, DPT, CSCS is a graduate of Daemen College and currently works outpatient orthopedics in New York. Presently he is applying for an orthopedic residency and pursuing a certification in Mechanical Diagnosis. For more info about Dr. Case check out his website

  • How was the transition/learning curve coming out of school and starting your first job?
Personally, I got lucky in that I was hired on at a previous clinical affiliation site. For academics requirements, students at my school needed to complete 4 separate affiliations. My 3rd affiliation was an outpatient orthopedic clinic in my hometown that was a perfect fit for me and apparently for them. After I graduated, I started working there under a limited permit and have since transitioned to a staff physical therapist.

One of the biggest obstacles coming out I think is realizing the balance of how much you actually learned and how little you truly know. The therapists at this clinic have provided good mentorship throughout any troubling cases or general weak spots in my knowledge which is invaluable to me. Because of that mentorship, I think my transition has been much easier than if I were taking a position in a different clinic or setting.
  • What is your work load like and what is typical day is like for you?
Typically, I will see 1-2 patients every half an hour and an initial evaluation for 1 hour each day. Currently, I am still building up a caseload and, accordingly, I am working a part-time schedule. A typical day will begin at 7:30am and 1-2 patients will arrive for their appointments on each half an hour. An initial evaluation will be scheduled somewhere throughout the day according to the patient's preference with an hour allotment of time for that evaluation. Depending on the day, I will work until 2:30pm or work through to 7:00pm. Notes are completed whenever time allows for it, and I try to finish them off during my patient's session so I don't have a huge stack of work at the end of the day.
  • What do you wish you would have known/been prepared for after graduating?
So far, I feel like any knowledge I could have gained on insurance companies and their policies would have been beneficial. Although we did receive some of that education during the didactic portion of our DPT program, the topic is certainly immense and requires continued learning. Clinically, I felt very prepared in knowing who I can help, who I can't help, and who I might need a little assistance in helping. While that comfort may have come from the clinic I chose to work with, I think active searching for a nurturing work environment directly out will improve a new grad's ability to grow. I'm sure a handful of situations will come about in the future that will inspire other answers to this questions, but currently I'm pretty satisfied with my preparation for new grad life.
  • Coming out of school what was compensation is like/managing student loans, etc?
I graduated in May 2015, so I am currently still figuring out the student loan management! Although I'm still currently in my grace period for my loans, I have been steadily building reserves from my income to pay off my loans prior to my interest capitalizing. I have decided to maintain my minimalist college budget for as long as I can in order to pay off my loans in the quickest time frame that I can. That's a personal choice, and I certainly don't claim it to be the best route! However, it just fits my lifestyle best and the thought of being debt-free as soon as possible really appeals to me. If that means I have to give up a few big purchases for a couple years still, I will be putting off that short term satisfaction for the long term gain.
  • Additional advice.
Never, ever, ever, stop being hungry. This profession is one of the best in the world because of the amazing results we can get with relatively low cost and low risk to the patient. Every time a person experiences success, you should be proud of yourself and celebrate that victory; however, don't forget how you got to that victory. A whole lot of work went into that, and I think one of the biggest pieces is continuing to advance your knowledge and skills. Regardless of your situation, you should always strive to become the best you that you can. Just because you're still in school, just because you're a new grad and have loans, just because you have 5 million things to do other than learn....Those ideas shouldn't hold you back from seeking out any topics you want to learn. Want to learn more about Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy? Take some MDT courses, student membership is discounted. Want to learn more about training athletes through strengthening and conditioning? The NSCA offers a student membership which receives discounts for study material for the Certified Strengthening and Conditioning Specialist track. Many organizations offer these discounts, and many PTs offer mentorship!

We got in this profession to help people. Do it the best you can.

Huge thanks to Dr. Case for his inspiring word. For more physical therapist's experiences click HERE

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Experiences: By Dalin Hansen, SPT

  • What do you like about physical therapy/why did you choose physical therapy?
I chose physical therapy because I want to help people. I looked at other healthcare professions and they just did not offer what I was interested in. I like fitness and wellness. I felt like as I shadowed PTs they treated the whole person not just an illness/disease/problem. As I have been on my internship it has been a testament that I have picked the right career. I have been able to help people get a better overall wellness. Sometime a listening ear while exercising seems to make a world of difference in peoples lives. I love spending time with people everyday. Most other healthcare professionals just do not get one on one like PTs do.
  • What type of facility were you in, where was it located, and a brief background?
My internship was located in South Austin, Texas. Being in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) sounded like such a drag at first but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Essentially, I was able to work with long-term (people who can no longer care for themselves and need 24 hour help) and short-term (knee/hip replacements, fractures, spinal surgery, etc. but just not quite ready to go home from the hospital) residents.
  • What was your biggest surprise/learning curve at your internship?
Having confidence in what I know. I feel I have learned so much in school thus far but sometimes it was hard to talk with patients and be sure of what I was saying. With simple cases I felt I could walk in confident but with more complex cases or agitated patients I felt a little more timid.

Something else that took me off guard was when patients seemed angry or agitated. I can understand why they might be upset; many of the patients just went through a traumatic event or surgery. When I did my first evaluation the patient was screaming and yelling. Honestly it freaked me out but I made it through and felt so accomplished afterward.
  • What was your case/work load like during your internship?
I covered between 70% and 90% of my CI’s caseload on any given day depending on who we were supposed to see. My CI slowly worked me into more and more patients as well as note taking. It is tricky to manage time wisely to see all the patients and get all the notes done but it was not crazy; it was definitely do-able. Of course my least favorite part of the workload was the note taking but again totally do-able.
  • Additional thoughts.
Just want to add be confident but not cocky. If your CI is any thing like mine take careful note of their advice. Listen to your CI, they have great insight and advice they have been a PT longer than you. Also, go into your internship open minded, I did not think an “old folks home” would be any fun but it was a blast. I don’t know if it is what I want to do for a career but I am not opposed to it.