As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working per diem at a small PT clinic. I found the position through Craigslist and was pretty much asked to take the position without really being interviewed. They were desperate to fill the spot of their PT who was going to be leaving on vacation during the holidays. The position had the potential to go from per-diem to part-time to full-time. They were currently at a point where they had too many patients for one PT, but just not quite enough for two. Either way, I saw this as an opportunity to get my foot in the door.
I was anxious to get working and start making money. Not only that, but I was feeling my PT powers slipping away since I hadn’t worked with patients since August. I was happy to take the position, but nervous too. And then my boyfriend asked me this…”So…do you feel ready to be the ONLY physical therapist at the clinic?” Hold up. I really had not given that much thought. I really was going to be the only PT at the clinic. I was going from a PT student to THE ONLY PT at the clinic. Ummm…was I ready for this? I mean, everybody says you should look to have a mentor in the beginning or, at the very least, have other PTs at the clinic. Not only that, BUT there was a PTA student at the clinic who I was going to be responsible for while the other PT was gone. So let’s get this straight…in August, I was a PT student…you know, with a clinical instructor and everything. Fast-forward to December…I’m now a physical therapist, with no CI…no mentor…nothing….and now I am in charge of a student…a PTA student. How quickly things had changed.
The PTA student was expected to see a full caseload and the other PT was not taking any patients during this time anyway so I went in thinking that the PTA student would just do her thing and I would make sure it was going well while hopefully not being too bored. No. I had 3 evals that first day. I had 4 evals (in 4.5 hours) on Tuesday, and another 4 evals on Wednesday. In the 2.5 days I worked, I had had 11 evals. So basically I got the hang of doing evals again rather quickly.
The PTA student was great. She was on her 3rd rotation and she really didn’t require me for much of anything. I did have to sign off on all her daily notes….wait, wasn’t I just having to have my stuff signed off on?!?! Anyway, I didn’t really have to have a full schedule while the PTA student was there.
The PTA student had this week off, so it was just me and the PT aide…who is awesome! Anyway, I definitely got my fair share of a caseload. I think the most I had seen at a clinic beforehand was 12 (although I was scheduled for 14…but people cancelled) but this week I saw 15.
I was very fortunate to have the aide there who was always right there to help set things up for me and prep tables and everything. Not only that, but we got along so well which made it an enjoyable environment to be in. By the end of the 3-day week, she told me she was actually sad that I wouldn’t be working full time because she had so much fun 🙂
Currently, I’m only working Tuesdays, although I might also get Thursdays now. The owner of the clinic was hoping to convince the other PT to work at his other job on Thursdays so I could take that slot but I haven’t heard if that has been arranged.
Would I like to be there full-time? It’s hard to say. It is a very tiny clinic, but I do like that it’s more personal. I think it would ultimately be in my best interest to have another PT around, even if they weren’t going to mentor me or anything. That being said, these couple of weeks of being the only PT has actually been a great big help to me. When I was a student doing an eval, I would frequently swing by my CI and check in with him to see if I was on the right track. If he was in a meeting, I would just do my thing and not worry. You see, I was fine if I didn’t have anyone right there to ask, but as soon as my CI was in the room, I felt the need to check in with him.
I almost think being the only PT has built my confidence and made me see that I CAN do this and that I don’t need to check-in with anybody. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to figure it out on my own and see what my own personal style is as a PT. When you are a student, you just try to mesh with whatever your CI does, but now I’m my own therapist and I’ve really enjoyed figuring out what kind of therapist I am. Because of this, I feel even more prepared to tackle an interview and explain why, even as a new grad, I’m qualified for the position.
The ultimate goal is to have a full-time job, and if I get offered that somewhere else, I’m going to take it. But until then, I’m going to make the most of this exciting experience 🙂