This question….you just HAVE to love this question when you are a new grad.

Of course, I’m joking.   I’ve gotten this question quite a few times now, no thanks to me looking younger than I am.  In fact, today I had a patient joking about having a teenager working on him.  And that’s when he asked me how long I’ve been doing this.  It didn’t make things any easier when he followed it up with, “you said 3 years the other day, right?” Ummm…wrong.  Not even 3 months.  Oooof.

I’ve managed to find a way to answer this question pretty well and, fortunately, I’m able to use my very short time in my per diem position to my advantage.

“Well, I have been here since January.  Prior to working here I had been doing per diem at another clinic”.  Now, usually the conversation ends there without the patient asking me how long I’ve actually been a PT.  If a patient asks about that, I respond with that I graduated in August (and not that I started working in December)…but I don’t stop there.  This is the time to flaunt that DPT and all the hard work that got you here.  Plus,  a lot of patients don’t really know what it takes to become a PT, so after you explain all that was involved, they aren’t as fixated on you only graduating in August.

“I graduated in August from ________ where I completed 3 years of physical therapy school to get my Doctorate of Physical therapy (cue the…”wow…3 years?! ” or “oh, it’s a doctorate?!”…bonus points!!!).  While in the program I completed clinical rotations where I went out to various PT clinics/sites where I got to practice my skills and learn from practicing physical therapists.  These rotations varied in length between 6-12 weeks and included a variety of settings.  I did one rotation in the hospital,one  in pediatrics and about 7 months of outpatient ortho at 3 different sites so I was very fortunate to get a lot of experience in the setting I wanted to be in.”

And I have not had any issues with this response.  The key is to speak confidently.  If the patient can tell you are a nervous, that will be make them nervous about working with you.  Just own the fact that you are a badass without sounding like you are defending yourself.  You are qualified to work with this person, now prove it!