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First Year Reflections

With National Physical Therapy Month, I wanted to reflect upon my first year as a practicing clinician and share some of my experiences with all of you - what it is like to be a new grad, some of the ups, downs, and everything in between.


This first year practicing as a physical therapist has certainly been a whirlwind, even putting aside how to navigate as a PT during a global pandemic! There have been moments of success as well as plenty of humbling moments to reflect upon and learn from that only experience can provide. All throughout school, you learn about how to diagnose and treat conditions within the realm of physical therapy. However, there is quite a lot that I have learned over the course of the last year that really can’t be taught in the classroom and can only be learned through experience. For instance, there have been a few moments where I have been unsure and had to recognize that I need some guidance. In those moments, seeking out guidance from an experienced therapist has been critical in making sure that I am providing the best possible care. Seeking out opportunities to learn and recognizing that I don’t need to do everything by myself and that I am not alone was a crucial thing for me to understand as a young therapist and was honestly something that was difficult for me to come to terms with during this first year.


Another thing that I have learned during this first year is how to develop my own personal style of assessment, treatment, and management. I felt like during my clinical rotations in school, I was mostly mimicking my clinical instructors treatment styles because I had not quite developed my own identity yet as a treating therapist. Honestly, I am and will be continuously developing this as I hone my craft over the course of my career as a PT. This first year I felt that I have made significant changes to my treatment style which has helped me grow immensely. I have changed how I provide education to my patients to communicate effectively to ensure that they understand the reasoning behind the treatments I provide and how it will help accomplish their therapy goals.


This year has certainly had its challenges; however there have been many successes over the course of the year as well!  I have learned how to assess and treat patients with vertigo, successfully treated many patients post-surgery, and utilized my background in manual therapy to improve patient’s functional mobility and motor control. It has been really fun and rewarding to watch as my patients improve!  With each success story provides encouragement for me to keep progressing my skills to make sure that there are many more to come.


Lastly, what this year has taught me is patience. In today’s world, we all want instant gratification but a lot of what we do as physical therapist requires persistence and time. Learning not to react with every change in a patient’s status or increase in symptoms has been difficult - I always want my patients to come back feeling better. However, being objective, keeping calm, and trusting my decision-making process have all been things that have helped me do what is best for my patients. Overall, this year has been a great learning experience for me and I am looking forward to continuing to learn everyday over the course of my career as a Physical Therapist.