I hope everyone had an amazing holiday and are ready for the new year. Drop me a comment below or on Facebook of some of your plans for 2018! I am not one for New Years resolutions but I know 2018 is going to be a very interesting year with graduation, a likely move for my new career, and finally starting to practice in a setting TBD...hopefully my last two clinicals will help me determine exactly which setting is for me.
Back to the final leg of my journey, which is actually still in progress even though it seems like it has been going on for so long already.
Year three--the final portion of the physical therapy school journey. From my previous blog, this year has been compared to the last 26.2 mile run of a triathlon...although I have never competed in one, I can't imagine trying to run that far ever, let alone after two other grueling events.
With the majority of my classroom based work behind me, it was time to learn what it was like to practice as a clinician during my second internship. I was at an inpatient rehabilitation facility where we were working with patients after having a stroke, heart attack, significant surgeries, or amputations. Needless to say this is not something you can remake in the classroom setting. During my first week I spent a lot of time shadowing so that I could become "comfortable" treating these patients.
After 2 years in a classroom, there was no way to become "comfortable" treating patients who were this medically complex in a week. To really shake me up, we had a patient code during my first week and while I am glad to say the person was able to recover, it put a fear in me of breaking the first rule of physical therapy (don't kill anyone).
Inpatient rehabilitation ended up being an amazing experience. I loved getting to know the patients and their stories. There was never a dull moment during treatments because we were always on our toes preparing for a fall or monitoring vital signs. Also, the amount of improvement we saw in some of our patients was amazing. We worked with several people who required the assistance of a clinician to get out of bed on their first day, then 14 days later were able to walk 250 ft and get up and down a flight of stairs. Even with the headache of documentation, I thoroughly felt that inpatient rehabilitation was the setting for me.
However, my next clinical was in an outpatient orthopedic and sports medicine clinic that was only a year old. This facility was immaculate. I have no way to fully put it in to words, however I will try; picture your normal physical therapy outpatient clinic...now throw that idea away completely and picture an amazing sports focused gym with a 60 yd turf dash track, half a basketball court, 15+ cardio machines, all the free weights and kettle bells you would ever need, and something called a plyopress (google it...it's pretty legit when you're working with the appropriate population).
Being at the mecca of sports performance had many benefits. I was working with a sports focused population which has been a niche that interested me, my CI Andrew Eheart, DPT was everything I could have asked for and so much more in a mentor, and I was able to use the gym once the patients left so I was able to time my 40 yd dash for the first time since my time at my junior college...still under 5.0 secs so I'll take it.
I have been spoiled with my clinical experiences so far as I have heard horror stories of my classmates treating 17+ patients a day and being double and triple booked at times. I can't even express how lucky I feel that all of my clinical instructors have wanted to take the time to teach me the things that they know to further progress our profession.
With the high of clinicals now in the rear view, it was on to prepping our case reports and waiting to see which clinical sites we would be going to next. The process of writing our case reports wasn't nearly as painful as expected. Though it took some time to format everything and make the large amount of corrections, only having class 3 days a week gave us some time for a little R&R. Our class finally got to come together again for some cookouts in the uncommonly warm Illinois weather, my roommates and I started working on our frolf game, and I was able to see my girlfriend way more frequently than last year because we were right in the heart of wedding season.
That pretty much brings us up to present day. The case presentations are completed, clinics have been selected for the spring semester, and our class had to say its goodbyes for the next 4 months as we go our separate ways again to change the lives of our patients. It has been very bittersweet as PT school wraps up. You spend 5-6 days a week with these people for 2 years and then in no time at all you're saying your goodbyes and your PT school family is split for the near future. Although it is great to know that I only have a couple more projects and the board exam left; I am sure hoping that the time with my classmates isn't coming to an end as these friendships have made me the clinician I am to this day.
After talking with Jared and Tyler from the ducklegs podcast (www.facebook.com/DuckLegsPodcast/) I wanted to discuss vestibular rehabilitation in physical therapy for this weeks "what physical therapy actually is" portion. While most people see physical therapists as someone to go to after rolling an ankle or having a surgery. The majority of therapists also have a niche practice that interests them. While not all therapists are comfortable treating patients with dizziness, finding an experienced clinician such as Dr. Mickey Shah or Dr. Steven Tijerina can help solve the puzzle of your dizziness. While you may have seen your primary care doctor, a cardiologist, an ENT specialist, and potentially even a psychologist if nothing else has worked. Physical therapists have a specialized training to bring all of these components together and not just look at dizziness from one angle, but at all of the components physiologically that could be leading to your feeling of dizziness. So the moral of the story is if you are having dizziness that has just recently come on or if you have been dealing with it for years (I have seen Dr. Shah get in session improvement for someone who had symptoms for 17 years) it would be worth giving physical therapy a shot.
Thanks again for anyone who has read my posts. Even getting a couple of people looking at what I am posting means a lot to me. All it takes is one person seeing what I am writing and either being inspired to go try something new, or in this case seeking out a physical therapist to treat their dizziness for this all to be worth it. I am writing this blog not only to get my story out there, but also to try and give some important content moving forward. Next week I am hoping to start sharing more about people in our profession and some of the things others are doing outside of just what people typically think physical therapists do.
Have a great new year and I will hopefully be talking to you again in 2018!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.