Sunday, January 10, 2021

Dear CI: Please Be A Mentor

Going through PT school was tough to say the least. Entering the clinic to start applying what classes can only talk about is like a dream come true. It seems so wonderful but then you find out you CI does not like you... This was my reality. I had a CI try to get me kicked out of PT school!

Because of my experience this is my letter to that CI.

Dear CI,

Thank you for your willingness to accept a student and to trust me with some of your patients. I know how important it is to you to get your patients better. I am so grateful for this opportunity. While I am very grateful for your willingness to take me I need more than just that. I need you to have a little patience with me, I am not a perfect clinician but then again nobody is. I will make mistakes and I need your feedback in order to learn but please do not grill me in front of patients. Coming out of school I am going to be by the book because that exactly where I have learned to be a PT, the books. There is a chance I'll put a gait belt on someone who doesn't really need one but I'm just trying to be safe. Instead of focusing on my weaknesses coach me to make those weaknesses strengths.  I know you are not required to go out of your way to help me but I plead with you to be an advocate for me, show me your style but let me find my own style too. Remember what it was like to be a student even if it was 30 years ago. Please do not tell me you had it worse back then because of one reason or another. Validate how hard school is and contribute to my education. Essentially, I ask you to be a mentor. Be someone I could call down the road and ask questions. Be someone I could seek advice from because that will help me more than anything. The way you talk to me can destroy my self confidence and can tear me down in general.  In closing don't go through the motions but instead please help me to be a better clinician.


Your student


  1. Wow, this is so timely!! I’m in my final semester of PTA school and just finished my 2nd rotation. Your letter sounds like it would apply to my situation perfectly. Though my rotation was over yesterday and I feel I should be celebrating it being over (and passing!), I am definitely feeling the negative affects of my CI’s words. I have spent half of my day in tears, and my self-confidence is definitely in the dumps at the moment. I’m struggling to find the motivation to even study at the moment, and I’m scheduled to take the boards in April. I am 100% for feedback and constructive criticism— I want to grow as a clinician! I felt so degraded when the criticism was in front of patients, though. It created a very awkward situation when he would belittle me in front of them, then I would be expected to treat them on my own the following session. Their faith in me was very little, of course! He was a long-time PTA with 30+ years experience and instead of helping me to grow as a student and a future PTA, he continuously told me all the ways that “the clay I’m made of” won’t work in this field— and there’s nothing I can do to change that. My first CI was FABULOUS. I learned so much from her and was thrown for a loop with this one. I tried to do what he asked and anticipate what he wanted, but nothing I did could please him. He wrote in my final eval that I was “very poor at utilizing a PT tech,” and we didn’t even have a tech! It’s insanity! He would ask me specific questions about MMT grades, and when I would answer, he said I was wrong & to look up the correct answer. I did that and was, in fact, correct. I took my book to clinic with the answer highlighted, so he then proceeded to tell me that my entire program was ridiculous and, “Did my professors even have any experience?!” He would tell me to be more efficient and speed up, so I did... then he wrote in my eval that I needed to slow down. He told me I was ADD & manic (I’m neither of those things LOL— I’m an almost 40-year-old woman and have never been described as such in my life). I have been an excellent student with good grades and a positive first clinical experience. I’m just trying to not let this one drag me down. As I was leaving for the final time yesterday, he mentioned what a “pain in the a$$ it was to have a student because you had to slow down to deal with them.” I said, “Ok, well, thanks for your time, and have a nice weekend!” His response: “Have a nice life.” Now I’m questioning everything ����‍♀️

    1. Oh my gosh this is awful! Your CI sucked for sure. Don't let this crush your confidence too much. I finished a rotation feeling like the scum of the earth but quickly learned my CI just really sucked. Her final words to me were "you'll never pass the boards" Take this experience and learn from it! If you have students be patient, understanding, and teaching a loving way. Keep your head up and move forward. Good luck moving forward!