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27 March - I Feel Like a Real PT!

We visited another new place today, the HIM clinic in Zacapa. It was another day of the “regular patients” with a few new evals sprinkled in for good measure. And it was also another day of requiring us to draw from many realms of physical therapy. Again we saw both children and adults, with both orthopedic and neurologic diagnoses. These included tibia fracture post-surgical, shattered patella, general knee pain, global developmental delay due to meningitis, club foot, transverse myelitis, CVA, and SCI caused by a gunshot wound. And those were just the patients on my caseload! There were also patients with polio, CP, a sprained ankle, broken arm, and many others.

It really has been amazing with the variety of patient case types we have the opportunity to work with. I have to admit, the kids are the most fun, but I also learn so much from the adults. I have been so impressed with everybody’s patience and family support and willingness to work hard towards recovery or functional improvement. Today I had an amazing interpreter working by my side, and I treated 7 patients with indirect supervision and co-treated an 8th patient. I really did feel like a “real” PT with the confidence to conduct initial evaluation and follow-up sessions, with both children and adults, and diagnoses both orthopedic and neurologic, independently.

HIM is a large organization that hosts many groups from a lot of specialties throughout the year. Typically the student groups are much larger than this... this week, I am the only PT student and I am accompanied by one CI. Because of our small size, we were paired up with two SLP’s and a lone undergrad student. Our HIM host, Nancy, is also a PT so I had a 2:1 ratio of licensed clinicians watching my back and providing guidance as necessary. Luckily, neither one of them were overbearing and I had a lot of freedom to see many patients nearly independently. Over the last six days, I have felt a major shift in my confidence in myself. I may not have all the answers, but I know I have enough to provide benefit to a vast array of patient types. And I know I have a strong, trustworthy network of fellow clinicians to provide additional knowledge and support. And this network has now gone global.

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