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Before I tell you about my experience as a physical therapist, it’s appropriate to give a brief introduction about me. My name is Brenda, and I am from Houston, TX. I went to PT school at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio and graduated in May 2016, passed the board exam in July (another blog worthy story), and started working two days after notifying my job that I had cleared the exam.
My passion for physical therapy arose as a middle school student volunteering at a local hospital. My interest grew as I interacted more closely with children with disabilities. Also, my mother’s best friend had a daughter with Down syndrome whom I considered a little sister. I observed several of her physical therapy sessions while she was in the hospital and realized it was the perfect job for me. Unfortunately, Kimmie passed away when she was 6 after developing leukemia but the influence she had on my life was tremendous. Fast- forward 12 years and I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
My first day as a physical therapist was quite the experience. I accepted a position at a small children’s rehab hospital that treats a great variety of diagnoses. There are three wings in the hospital that house patients based on acuity levels- acute, sub acute, and rehab.
As I entered the building I was introduced to the rest of the rehab team, which consists of 2 OTs, 2 SLP, a PRN PT, and another full time PT. The director of rehab, who is a physical therapist, had been treating patients due to a shortage in staffing and an increasing census in the hospital. Thus, my first day was just as exciting for her as it was for me.
The entire first day was spent observing patients that would most likely become mine. Diagnoses included; 2 traumatic brain injuries caused by MVA. One of the patients also had heterotrophic ossification in bilateral hips, ankles, left knee, burns over 25% of the body and was non verbal. I also saw a complete T8 spinal cord injury, a 9 month- old shaken baby on a vent, and a 10 year old who suffered a hemorrhage and had subsequent transient ischemic attacks. I met these patients, assisted with therapy as we shared treatment ideas, and was trained on the computer as the therapist wrote her daily notes. Other encounters included meeting the PM&R physician, the nursing staff, and the respiratory therapy team.
Three weeks later, I have a caseload of 6 patients which I see independently and have a tech available as needed. I also have a mentorship 2-3 hours per week. It seems fairly simple until you consider the management of the patient as it relates to physical therapy including wheelchair assessments, orthotic fittings, wound care assessments, rehab rounds every week, plan of care updates on a weekly basis, car transfer training, communication with physicians and families, creating our schedules, answering emails, researching evidence, and completing all documentation in a timely manner.
“I love my job.
There isn’t anything that
could change my mind
about my choice
for this profession”.
In a short time, I have seen patients progress from being vent dependent to ambulating with stand by assistance, and parents burst out in tears when their child stood for the first time since a traumatic accident. Every patient makes it worth the effort we put forth to create the most effective rehabilitation experience.