I was fortunate to attend FIU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. During school, we completed coursework to prepare us to be excellent PTs no matter the setting we chose.
Our orthopedic coursework and hands-on practice were extensive. We started with the basics: anatomy, taking patient histories, understanding the ICF model. Then we moved into special tests and methods of treatment, including post-surgical protocols. We also received a great deal of instruction on orthoses and prosthetics. Our last year continued our education by focusing on differentially diagnosing various patient presentations.
Our neuro coursework provided us with an excellent framework for understanding neurological pathologies and treatments. We gained knowledge in terms of patient prognoses, and how best to improve patient abilities and quality of life. We learned how to do neuro evals and more neuro-based treatment patterns including PNF.
We rounded out our education with the more medical side including pathophysiology and pharm, to help us better address the multi-faceted patients we see as DPTs.
Overall, it was a thorough and complete education that I feel confident bringing with me into the setting I choose.
I had the good fortune to be able to have 3 experiences with outpatient ortho during my clinical internships. The first experience was at an independent outpatient clinic, and provided me the opportunity to get my feet wet and practice all of the skills we had been learning in school. This was a chance to bring all that I learned to life, and I found it extremely helpful in cementing everything I had learned. We saw many patients s/p rotator cuff repairs, ACL repairs, biceps tenodesis, ORIF of a trimalleolar fracture, as well as lumbar spine pain, adhesive capsulitis, and other pain-related conditions.
My third clinical internship (my second was in a acute inpatient) was at a hospital-based outpatient clinic. It was interesting to see how this experience compared to an independent outpatient clinic. We served many of the hospital’s own employees, as it was a convenient way for them to participate in PT while on their hospital campus. My clinical instructor at this internship specialized in McKenzie, so it was very educational to be able to treat so many spine cases. We also saw a range of conditions involving the shoulder, spine, and knee, similar to my first internship.
My final internship was supposed to be at a SNF, but that was cancelled as it was during the first summer of Covid. I was placed in another private outpatient clinic. I was grateful for any opportunity to be placed, since it was such a challenging time worldwide. This was also an opportunity for me to fully prepare myself to treat independently soon. At this internship I was able to perform evaluations, formulate treatment plans, and manage notes in an entry-level capacity. With my CI’s supervision, I treated it as if I were already working independently, and thanks to this internship, I feel very capable of working in an outpatient setting.
All of these internships were so helpful in teaching me real-world skills and how to approach various challenging situations. I am so grateful for them, and more importantly, I look forward to using the skills they taught me to be the best PT I can be and provide the very best patient care.
This internship experience was quite different from my other internships. I completed this internship in a smaller, 3-story hospital located in Miami. I was grateful to be at this particular site, since due to the size of the hospital, I was able to treat on all floors of the hospital, including post-op orthopedic patients, telemetry patients, ICU patients, and even in the orthopedic clinic located in this hospital.
The wide variety of patients and the variety of needs they had helped me learn how to vary my treatments, be flexible, provide motivation through pain, and provide compassion to patients who may be going through a difficult disease course.
This internship required working as a member of a team with various healthcare practitioners, including physicians, physician assistants, APRNs, RNs, CNAs, social workers, and more.
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