Surviving my first clinical rotation… 5 things I learned that helped reframe my mindset.

I’d be lying to you if I said I was 100% confident going into my first physical therapy rotation. I even knew my CI (clinical instructor) prior, and the thought of having to treat REAL patients was something I just hadn’t done yet. It’s like any first day, new job, first date, etc., it can be terrifying BUT it always gets easier and starts to feel more natural.

It’s crazy how fast your mindset can change once you get more comfortable, like here I was two weeks later and I WANTED to stay longer and learn more from the amazing therapists and patients I had met and gotten to work with. It felt like just the day before I was freaking out trying to absorb a semesters worth of knowledge into my brain, and here I was so excited to put that knowledge into practice.

So.. if you have a big FIRST coming up, and you felt how I did, I hope these five bits of advice can help calm your nerves and help you get the most out of your time!

  1. You’re not going to be perfect on your first day. As humans we feel the need to have to know everything or that we have to prove ourselves when starting a few job, meeting new people, etc.,… but that’s not realistic. The whole purpose of these learning opportunities is to make you think and to make mistakes so that you can improve and be the best clinician, teacher, friend, etc. possible. There were days at my clinical were I was killing it and able to perform therapy services with no guidance from my CI, but other days I felt like I was asking her hundreds of questions and felt like I had forgotten so much from class- and that’s OK.
  2. Get to know your patients! Not only does it feel more comfortable as you are performing hands-on techniques (yes you might have to do soft tissue massage to someone’s glutes or feet) to someone you’ve never met before, but they are going to feel better cared for if you take interest into their lives. When we talk about treating or healing someone as a whole, that doesn’t just mean treating an ache or pain, but helping them build up the confidence and attitudes needed to realize that they are capable of getting back their physical strength, and that their health matters to you.
  3. Come prepared to do the work. No this doesn’t mean you have to pull an all-nighter reviewing your notes, but make sure you understand what is expected of you during your clinical. The first day I arrived I made sure to ask my CI how she typically works students into treatment and if I would get a chance to work independently after some time. Having open communication allowed us to determine where to start with responsibilities and what specifically I might need to review to feel more comfortable.
  4. Set goals for yourself and make a plan to reach them. Your clinical setting or school might already require this, but if not, goal planning can make a huge difference in what you get out of your clinical. For each week of my clinical, I wrote down two things I did really well at, and two things I wanted to improve on. From those answers I developed two goals for the next week and wrote out how I might achieve it. For example, one of my goals was as simple as challenging myself to further look into specific treatments & thought that to reach this goal, I would use part of my lunch time each day researching treatment and treatment protocols I felt least comfortable with. This not only set out time to improve though researching, but I felt much more comfortable having this knowledge when working with patients.
  5. Have fun & enjoy this experience. I can honestly say I had a blast during my first clinical. Once I let myself relax I discovered my CI and I were literally the same person, we were able to joke around during the day and get to know each other. Your field of work might have a smaller community than you realize, and making good connections will help you out throughout your career. See us being awkward turtles together below:

No matter what you have coming up next if life, you are going to kill it! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my thoughts and don’t forget to subscribe & connect with me below!

@pta_jay

Welcome to my blog!!

Welcome welcome friends! My name is Jaime and I am so excited to invite you to my new blog: Day by Jay. I am a physical therapist assistant student and have passion for helping people move better and feel better. I hope to use my blog to share with you all not only my experience in the PT field, but my love for exploring new places, good eats, fitness and everything in-between β™‘

I began my studies in exercise science at GVSU and began working a a personal trainer and exercise physiologist after becoming a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of sports medicine (ACSM EP-C). I spent two years personal training at a YMCA and teaching health and wellness courses at a weight loss clinic while continue to work as a tech at a physical therapy clinic. I loved getting to use my knowledge of exercise and anatomy to help patients reach their goals.

At the start of 2020 with the beginning of the pandemic I decided to make the jump to start sharing my workouts and lifestyle on my instagram feed. This allowed me to have a creative outlet and share my knowledge of exercise science as well as to design workouts that can be inclusive to all people (@pta_jay if you’re interested).

This past fall I moved into a new townhouse with my sister and began PTA school and HERE WE ARE! I am so excited to be able to share not only my health and wellness aspects of my life but sharing my experiences and inspiring others to go after their goals.

So excited to be friends! xoxo- Jaime

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