Student Feature: Justice Ogueri Observations of a Physical Therapy Intern
During my time as an intern at the Physical Therapy Specialty Center, I observed a lot of things over 3 months (January-March). This blog post is a 3 month break down of what I saw and learned, as well as things that I can use to be the best PT I can be one day.
January: For a Physical Therapist, knowing the right terminology is important. Being able to comfortably tell a patient what is wrong, using the right words can separate you from being an average PT or a great one and show that you know what you’re talking about - which can build trust and credibility. PT’s have learned and mastered the body to a point where it’s almost like they have x-ray vision and know exactly where a muscle, nerve, or bone is and how they all work and are connected. A PT starts slowly and listens closely when engaging with a patient so that they can understand what is wrong, and come up with a plan on how to fix it. Understanding your patients fully can help them get the best rehab plan to get them back to being functional. To be a good PT, I saw that you must display good customer service and be able to ask good questions. PT’s take notes of progress to be able to know what phase of the rehab process the person is in. PTs aren’t afraid to touch people - they wash their hand after every session so touching people isn’t a problem for them. ROM, strength, and flexibility are important aspects of rehab for a PT, and this is what the sessions are mainly be about. I observed that PT's are very knowledgeable with exercises, and can easily pick one out that can help rehab the part of the body that is hurt or injured. PT's know how to use different equipment in lots of different ways as well.
February: It’s important to always have a positive attitude while you are working and be honest with your patients. It’s important to make your patients believe that they can get better, which can help them have the motivation to keep coming back and do their home exercises. When first meeting with a patient, I have seen that during the evaluation phase, the PT does different tests to see what exactly is wrong. PT's are constantly ask their patients if they have any questions. That helps them make sure that they are on the same page as the patient. I saw that they make good plans to minimize pain, restore range of motion (ROM), and to maintain balance. A great PT has become an expert on using different modalities to address different issues. They show enthusiasm and look like they are having a good time every session. They get to know each patient individually and know exactly what they can take in terms of intensity. PTs are prepared to answer any type of question. An important thing that aides in that is, before the patient comes in, the PT will read the report sent in by the doctor to know exactly what they’re working with. Even before the patient comes in, the PT understands what body part they are most likely working with. The paperwork looks to get tedious at times, but knowing how to understand the paperwork can make your job 10 times easier.
March: Things that I observed during the month of March is that as a PT, it’s important to make the patients feel as comfortable as possible. This is because most people feel some level of anxiety when they come into the PT clinic. Making them comfortable will make them be more willing to accept the treatment plan and come back for another session. PT's base the next steps of the rehab on what the patient tells them, and not what the PT thinks is necessarily best. As a PT, you should explain the home exercises fully, so that anyone could understand. This is because, a lot of times you deal with a population who may not know anything about working out. PT's should demonstrate the exercises first so that the patient can visually see how it goes. Being comfortable with getting to know new people is an important aspect of PT because of how many new people you could see in any given day. The best PT's continue to learn new skills to expand what they can do for people in need. PTs are good listeners, that monitor progress and base intensity on how far along the patient is in the process. It’s important to find similarities with your patients so that you can always have something to talk about during sessions. It’s also important to connect with your patients and question them to assess how they are feeling. One thing that I saw that could really help is to treat your patients like family. This is so you can give them the best rehab possible.
To conclude, after sitting and observing the physical therapists work with patients as well as observing the good habits they have, how they talked to them and what they did to help the patients get better. I believe Physical Therapy is a great career path for me. I am grateful to have been assigned to a great place filled with great people to learn from. One day I hope to be a great PT using these same methods.
About the Author:
Justice Ogueri is a student at Colorado Mesa University in which he is studying to become a Physical Therapist. Justice comes from an athletic background in which he played football for CMU as a running back. Justice plans on applying to multiple physical therapy schools with hopes to become a sports/outpatient PT.