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!