Week three was helpful! I got to experience the clinic when it was a little slower, so I saw a lot of the business side of having a PT Clinic. Dan, my mentor, is the owner of Rivergate. A lot of this week he showed me the paperwork he does for patient's insurance and paying bills for the practice. I got to see how hard it is for the provider and the patient to work with the medicare cap and how they deal with insurance. It is very hard for the provider when he has to basically tell a patient that he can't treat them anymore because they have reached the limit that insurance will pay for. I learned a lot today about how many ethical dilemmas Dan deals with every week. He also let me start charting for him. What this means is that I actually ask the patients questions about their progress and write down anything they say since the last PT session.
I also nailed down my project! As you know, I created a home exercise plan for my dad. He has had two surgeries on his arm and many PT sessions, and in the past couple of years, his pain has come back and he needs PT again. So I created a plan for him to do at home with me, and then he can take it to his future PT and they can modify it to their needs! My dad will actually become a patient at Rivergate, so I am able to give Dan the HEP I made and he can give it to my dad when he comes in!
This week really taught me the "work" side of PT. Most of the days we are spending time treating patients and it can be so much fun to help people all day. Although, what I have learned, like most professions, there are going to be some "boring" or grueling parts of the day. I have just told myself that we have to remember why we are passionate about the job and think about that when the job gets hard. Overall, this week taught me a lot.
Week two was a really good one I got to observe some of the other PT's in the clinic, so I got a closer look at some of the variety between PT's and how they work. I learned about the Vestibular system with one of the PT's, Jess. The vestibular system is made up of the inner ear, eyesight, and sensory nerves that all help you balance and have spacial orientation. She had a patient who was working on balance and strengthening his spacial awareness without one of the three categories. He had a benign tumor in the inner ear and it was affecting his balance. We worked with him and his balance without his eyesight, or without his hard ground sensors in the hopes that his balance would increase without the help from the inner ear. She was a great teacher!! I also got to work with Ben who is one of the PT assistants. His main job is to create exercise plans and go through them with the patients after they have seen the main PT. I got to actually suggest and run through movement with one of our patients who was strengthening his lower back and legs. I showed him how to do the Single Leg Deadlift and help him with form. I knew about this movement from my experiences at the gym, and it was really cool to actually take what I know and apply it with a patient! I also made some headway on my project today! I studied the muscles around the shoulder and upper arm and found movements on HEP 2Go that would use those muscles. This will help me narrow down the exercise plan for my project! I am all done with the research part, now I get to create the project!!
Top left: Vestibular system (inner ear)
Top right: HEP 2GO program that PT's use
Bottom: Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift
This week was so cool! I finally got to see how the PT assistants made exercise programs, I observed and helped set up the traction machine, and I got to oversee a patients doing their exercises. It was also really cool to see how my time at the Vault helped me with talking to patients. For example, I got to help a patient do some resistance training with bands and pulleys to strengthen her upper back, and I recognized some technique and form that I learned at the Vault. I helped her with changing her form so that she would strengthen and not strain any muscles. I also observed Ben, one of the PTA's do exercises with his patients and hook them up to the electric stimulation machine. He also showed me the website that he uses for PT's to help create exercise plans. It is called HEP2Go, and you can type in a specific injury or part of the body, and it will give you hundreds of movements you can give to a patient. This will be really helpful to me with my project, which I also started thinking about during this week!! The PT's asked me if I had every had an injury that I could do an exercise plan for myself, but since I hadn't, I had the idea to create a plan for my dad. Since my dad got out of PT about 5-6 years ago, he has lost a lot of strength and ROM (range of motion; that is PT talk ;) ) and he would like to start PT again. I thought it would really cool to actually create a plan from what I have learned here. So yeah, a lot in the first first!! Everyone is really helpful and great at answering my questions. I am so happy that I am here, because I am learning so much already.
Picture 1: This is the office! Picture 2: This is one of the Electrical Stimulation Machines
Wow, I can't believe I just finished my first day of my internship! I had such a fun day and everyone was so extremely nice and helpful to me. Because it was a Monday, I met Dan at their Dalton Ranch Office, and I observed and shadowed with Dan all day. I met all of his patients, saw how he evaluated them, and even got to watch him give dry needling to a patient. Dan is so great with me and his patients because he really takes the time to explain what he is doing and teach me what is going on. He is already quizzing me on the different muscles and what specific stretches and specific muscle groups function like. I learned so much about functional anatomy today, and it was just day 1! I am so excited to continue learning from Dan.
I got my internship today!! Mr. Cullum was so nice to take me on, and he said that he would love to help me since I know the Gosneys. I feel like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can relax and have fun on Spring Break now. Ahhhh!!! I am so thankful to Janae, Missy and Brett, and all of those at Rivergate PT to help me with this opportunity.
I finally had a meeting with Janae to figure out what my options are, and she said that I have plenty of time, especially if I am honest about my previous internship falling through. I have found 3 physical therapists in town to write to, but my main choice is Dan Cullum at Rivergate Physical Therapy. Dan knows Missy and Brett Gosney, who I am close with, and they're happy to put in a good word for me with him. I feel hopeful that I will figure everything out, but I am definitely still feeling the stress.
After a long month of emailing back and forth with The Steadman Clinic, they have finally decided that I will not be able to come to Vail. Mike Begg, my potential mentor, made it pretty clear that I would be able to come if they were not hosting any other interns, and at the last minute, told me that they were hosting a medical school student the same month that I would be there. I respect their intention of wanting to teach one person at a time, and I am glad they took the time to consider me. Now, only a couple of months away from the internship, I am freaking out a little about where I am going to go! I will have to find somewhere in town, because I don't think I have enough time to sort out living arrangements.
Sending the Email
Today I sent my first email to my number one mentor!! Pressing send was nerve-racking to say the least. Since I last posted, I have chosen my number one place that I hope to confirm my internship at. It is the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. In terms of being nervous, I am a little nervous 1. to hear back and 2. I feel as if I am running out of time. I think it will all work out in the end.
Today Janane came in to our humanities class in order to give us time to research and contact potential mentors. She taught us effective email and phone call protocols, which was super helpful to start thinking about how I was going to start this intimidating process. Her lesson also made me realize how easy it is to contact and confirm a mentor. In the past, this process of contacting people I didn't know was a huge reason for worry. I feel a lot more confident after today.
I have a few big dreams. My original one was an internship at The Shepard Spinal Center in Atlanta, GA. This was a huge reach for me, but I had a few contacts and I knew I really wanted to try. As of last night when I was researching their website, I saw a message that said they can not take shadowing or observation. This discouraged me, but I want to continue to try. Earlier in the LINK process, I thought a physical therapist in Durango would be a back up for me, but after researching and reading profiles of local PT's and doctors, I know I would be excited to get to work with any of them.
My next big dream would be a sports medicine clinic in Vail or Aspen. I don't have any contacts as of yet, but I know the facilities and clinics there are some of the best in the country. It would be such an amazing opportunity to learn from anyone there.