How to Get Your Clinical Instructor to Trust You
Please don't be fooled by the title of this post. I don't have a good method by which to accomplish this. However after starting my fifth clinical last Wednesday, I've realized that earning the trust of a clinical instructor is a very tricky game requiring a great amount of patience. I just began the first half of my final yearlong clinical internship on a traumatic brain injury unit at a well-respected hospital here in Pittsburgh.
This technically marks my first experience working in an inpatient rehab setting, and also with a neurological population. Obviously, my clinical instructor is going to have some apprehension about handing me some of her patient cases, which I can absolutely understand. In the end, I'm her responsibility. But I'm eager to get started! So I've been trying to find the best way to demonstrate my skills and gain her trust without coming off like the most arrogant student in the world. Here's what I've found that works:
● Demonstrate good listening skills. When my CI explains something, I honestly try to soak in every word she says. I have so much to learn, and I really try to make it obvious that I'm excited to do so.
● Show interest. I carry around a small pocket notebook to record any questions, new information or ideas that I have during the day. I think it helps to show that I'm a proactive learner, and it's also a great tool to use in any sort of self-assessment.
● Take advantage of situations where you can demonstrate your skills. If another therapist needs an extra set of hands for a transfer, offer to help. If an assistive device needs to be adjusted, do it. We have plenty of opportunities to show what we're capable of, we just need to recognize them. Standing around and just watching your CI doesn't do you much good!
● Know your limits. If I'm completely unfamiliar or uncomfortable with something, I come right out and say it. In the past, I used to be embarrassed to do this. I've found that by admitting to a lack of experience in a certain area, you start to demonstrate that you are very aware of your current abilities and identify where your skills can be expanded.
● If all else fails, focus on the patients. Demonstrate your communication skills, that you care about your patients, and have the ability to interact with them on a professional (and personal) level.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list, nor am I an expert. But these are a few things I've figured out along the way that have helped to speed up the "trust" process. Any other suggestions are welcome! I'm interested to hear if anyone else has come up with some tricks for those first few weeks of a clinical rotation.