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Diary of a Student | Learning from a Variety of Mentors

Not every clinician is the same. Everyone has different personalities and different approaches to their patient’s plan of care. In the end, they all reach the same outcome: improving the patient’s overall health. While on this clinical, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with several different PT’s and a PTA, all of which have different strengths.

The first PT I worked with/observed had a very bubbly personality.  She was lively and enthusiastic during her evals, and the patients had more fun as a result. When patients talked with her about their health, she would either paraphrase what they said or respond in a way that they knew she understood what was going on. She asked her patients what their goals were in therapy, which helped them stay involved in their plan of care. She made PT an overall fun experience.

A few weeks later, the clinic hired a PTA. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed just how much she genuinely cares about her patients. She is very encouraging. When patients don’t feel like doing their exercises, she motivates them, and makes them feel stronger. When they make an achievement, she is excited for them. She shows just how happy she is they’ve made progress. She’s also very creative with her exercises. When working on balance interventions, she comes up with exercises that I’ve never seen anyone else do before. She changes the patient’s experience from “just exercises” to “fun activities”. I’ve seen patients change their perspective on PT just because of her.

Around halfway into my clinical, the clinic also hired a new PT.  He is confident and knowledgeable. During evals, he pinpoints what is going on with the patient, and explains this to them clearly. They have a better idea of their condition because of him. I could tell patients begin to trust him quickly. He also has a way with getting his patients to laugh, whether it be during evals or treatment sessions. Lastly, he has a strong background in manual therapy and vertigo. I’ve been learning more vertigo and manual-related techniques because of him.

Throughout the course of this rotation I’ve seen how my CI treats and evaluates patients. She shows compassion, and has gone above and beyond for several patients. She is a deep listener during the subjective portions of her evals. She is engaged with her patients, and makes evals not just a typical doctor’s visit.  She is also assertive with her patients regarding their responsibilities. Patients understand that PT is not just an “I’ll-come-when-I-feel-like it” kind of experience. If they want to get better, they have to be consistent. My CI also checks up on patients, even when she’s not treating them on a certain day. Lastly, she is very quick with documentation. When she does evals, she’s just about done with her documentation shortly after the evaluation.

As a student, it’s great that we have exposure to different clinicians’ styles of patient interactions. This isn’t something you can learn from by reading a textbook. The more exposure we have, the more we can improve upon. I’m hoping to build off of each approach, in order to make myself a better PT.

--Nikole Nelson, DPT Student at UCF

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