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Life of a PTA

Clinical Advice

Published January 21, 2011 3:23 PM by Allison Young

Over the past holiday season, I came across one of those quarter-sized, clever "quote" buttons that people pin to a coat lapel or the sun visor of their car. This particular saying, "Take it easy... and move on" struck me as being profoundly relevant given the fact that it was a week before Christmas and I was running around like a maniac to buy last-minute gifts. I promptly bought a half-dozen buttons and handed them out when I came across family and friends who needed that sage reminder. Considering I've been immersed in my clinical affiliation for 40-plus hours a week, the holidays and everything that goes with them have evaporated into distant memories at this point.

As luck would have it, one lone button made its resting place on the bottom of my handbag. Only after a frantic search for an elusive pack of mint gum did I make the discovery. Timing is everything, of course, and on that day I really needed some good advice. Although this clinical is going fantastic now, the first few weeks held the typical rocky transitions. For every correct answer I gave to my CI's questions, I would chastise myself for a simple mistake made during goniometric measuring (my personal "Achilles heel.")

As a student, I allow my frustration level to sometimes get the better of me. In theory, I should have all the answers regarding anatomy, exercise and modalities - in practice, it's a whole other story. I still get anxious and nervous around patients (and my CIs) at times. More than anything, I sometimes doubt I'll ever become proficient at this career. I liken this anxiety to holding your child for the first time and having someone say "OK, now parent!" So, I keep the button in my bag and try to embrace that mantra. Every so often during a long, hard day I remind myself to take it easy (I'm still a student), consider mistakes as learning opportunities when they happen... and move on.


If you ever think you have all the answers, you have become a danger to your patients.  Get out!  You will even make mistakes when you are no longer a student.  That's okay, too.  You are human.  Dean's right, failure is a much better teacher than success.  As long as you live and strive at something, failure will find you from time to time.  It is what you do with the failure that is important.  

Your goniometry was my anatomy.  So, of course I landed my first job on an orthopedic rotation.  Shoot me now.  That first year out of school I felt like I couldn't get anything right.  But, I didn't kill anybody and I actually helped a lot of people.  And I learned a lot.  As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

You have a level head on your shoulders and good perspective.  You'll be fine.  Just like parenting, after you have the second baby you look back and think of your first, "Why did I think that was so hard?  This is easy!"  One day you'll look back to these student years and wonder why you were so worried.  It'll be as natural as walking and talking.  But, just like parenting, you'll never know all the answers :-)  But, neither will anyone else!

Janey Goude January 26, 2011 3:21 AM

Very similar to a poster that was used here in the UK during the 2nd World War: "Keep calm and carry on" was the phrase.

I remember one CI had me so nervous and anxious that I forgot everything I had really...everything! The next CI was brilliant and restored my confidence (which had been shattered by the first) and resulted in a job offer by that facility.

It sounds like you're doing OK. Remember, you are a student. You are SUPPOSED to learn and grow and make mistakes. You will become a far better professional from your mistakes than you will from your easy successes.

Keep calm

Carry on

Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz January 25, 2011 6:08 PM

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