Things are starting to finally fall into place. Thanks to great friends, great connections, and an amazing support system, this time next week I will have received my doctoral hood and will officially be Trace McClintock, DPT. While that is a great step, I can’t help but think about what is coming next. I am in the process of finalizing a job with the Temple, Texas Veteran Affairs Hospital to work in a 50/50 clinic set up between acute care and outpatient orthopedics. This will give me the best opportunity to keep my clinical skills sharp and to serve patients across the continuum of care.
However, before any of that can happen though I still have a trip abroad, a couple of weddings, some continuing education courses, a jurisprudence exam, a move completely across the country and of course passing my boards. While the process of selecting a job has been stressful, I know that I am going into a great system. The VA may come under some scrutiny at times, however I know that it will give me the autonomy to help each and every veteran to the best of my ability. There is no one telling you exactly how you need to practice, no one to say that you can’t use a specific treatment approach, and if you need any equipment, all you need to do is ask. I may be a little naive as I am excited to have landed a job in this setting, however; some of my best mentors have come from the VA system.
My last internship was at a VA hospital and I would recommend if any student has this opportunity, you need to take it. Seeing how a health care system works without a restricted number of visits or unreasonable productivity standards is amazing. Also, having the patient’s full medical record at your disposal allows you to paint a picture of this patient and fully understand what else could be at the root of their pain. I have to be frank though, this population is a tricky one as many of these men and women are combat veterans who have impairments you typically wouldn’t see in the outpatient setting. That being said, the vast majority of them have a desire to return to a high level of function and are willing to work if you can get them to buy into your program.
One of the things I am most excited about with the VA is that I have heard nothing but good things from PTs who work in this system. Yes, there are times of frustration as with any work environment but I have heard that typically once in the VA system, you stay there because it is hard to beat the work environment and benefits in the private sector. Another amazing thing I am looking forward to is the fact that you’re not typically taking a lot of work home with you. This isn’t because I am excited to have some time to relax after being in school for 20 years; I have had more than enough relaxation in the last 3 weeks. It is because I know that after I get off work, I will be able to focus on what I want to do to improve myself as a professional, a boyfriend, a person, and for the first time in a while I will be able to set up a solid diet/workout routine.
There are so many things in the works right now from the podcast I am helping with; to the motivational Facebook group I started, to a few other side projects that are in the works. I cannot wait to give a little more time and money to things that I find beneficial. This could be just the optimism of graduation speaking, but I am very excited to start the career I have been in school for over the last 3 years. The fact that the patients will be working with just me and not myself and a CI is a scary but amazing thought. I have been able to talk with a couple people over chats and text messages when they have had muscle soreness or some sort of recurrent pain and have seen some improvements through our discussions. Worst case scenario I am helping to expand the reach of our profession in the micro because people were unaware that PTs treated things like chronic pain, neck pain, dizziness, vertigo, pelvic floor dysfunction, or concussions.
There are so many great things to come in my future and I am so thankful for everyone who has played a role. Whether it was co-workers at Subway who showed me how to be more efficient and detail oriented, or the bar tenders and doormen who I worked alongside that made my final year of undergrad so memorable, or the patients that have helped mold me into the clinician I am today. I have been told that the learning doesn’t stop once you are done with school and that you become so much better of a clinician in your first 1-2 years if you continue to put forth the effort. Well if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that I am going to keep grinding every day so that hopefully I can make a positive impact on my profession and the people who care about me.
Yesterday the quote of the day from our motivation and accountability group was, “An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he had read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music.” –Dr. Robert Ford
I want to make an impact on this profession moving forward. I am excited that I get to start my career working with a population that is so near and dear to my heart. That being said, I am only 25 years old and there is still so much life to live. I cannot wait to see what this journey holds and I am excited to see who joins me for the ride.
Happy Friday my friends—until next week!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.