5 WAYS TO CONQUER YOUR CLINICAL
This summer I became a clinical instructor for the first time, and it was
exciting to be on the other side, having been the student during four
clinical’s throughout Physical Therapy school in the past five years. It
was specially meaningful to become a CI because I had been a student at
the place where I now work. With experience as both a CI and a student,
I want to share advice for being a successful student Physical
Therapist with the Rate my CI readers:
1. Do your homework
While taking a break from classes is awesome, remember that you still
have some work to do while on clinical. Bring a notebook with you and
keep track of questions that you have for your CI and things you need to
research at home. Take advantage of this time in your life to learn as
much as you can and impress your CI by being as knowledgeable as
possible about the patients you’re treating.
2. Make use of downtime
In between patients or during gaps in your schedule, have an idea of
different techniques you want to practice. Once you’re out on your own,
you may not have anyone checking your skills, so take advantage of
having supervision and guidance while you still can. Practice manual
skills you’re not comfortable trying out on patients, or learn additional
techniques beyond what you’ve seen in school. If you can learn new
things on clinical’s, it will make you a more rounded physical therapist
and set you apart from other new graduates.
3. Get to know the patients
One of the best compliments you can receive as a student is to be well
liked by patients. As a student, you may not have the skills or experience
to be remembered by patients as an excellent clinician, but you can be
known for being friendly. I was impressed when I left my student alone
in the room on her first day and returned to find her deep in
conversation with the patient. When patients missed her at the end of
the summer, it was a sign she had passed the internship.
4. Network with the other clinicians
I’m glad I got to know therapists besides my CI at my third internship
because when I officially got hired, I already knew and felt comfortable
with everyone. Additionally, I have a better understanding of how
doctors, nurses, and aides function on the healthcare team because I
made a point of working with them and shadowing them during my time
as a student.
5. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Your CI doesn’t expect you to be a perfect clinician. During one clinical, I
messed up screening a patient during an evaluation to the point where
my CI had to step in and take over. I was horrified and apologized, but
went home and practiced doing screens all night. The next day I made up
for the mistake when I was able to come in and perform a screen
perfectly. The overall impression was that I was a hard worker and eager
to improve, not that I had made a mistake. Even if you get something
wrong, the most important thing is to recover and learn from it.
Good luck on your clinical’s!