Finding Your Voice
With experience comes responsibility. It's a simple concept, but I never fully appreciated it until recently when I was involved in the discharge decision-making process for patients I've been working with. As I'm sure any physical therapist working in inpatient rehab knows, we have weekly staff meetings to determine goals, establish discharge dates and discuss progress for each patient on the unit. Now that I'm starting to settle in, I'm also getting the opportunity to participate in these meetings and provide my clinical insight.
While staff and similar meetings continue to be one of the most challenging (and intimidating) aspects of my current clinical rotation, I also recognize them as opportunities to gain confidence and experience with interprofessional communication and in my prognostic decision-making skills. As a student, I'd be willing to bet that communicating with doctors, nurses and the rest of the medical team about a patient's physical status and attainable goals can be one of the most difficult skills to master. I'm also recognizing that these types of skills can only come about through experience and by making a lot of embarrassing mistakes.
The good news -- I'm getting better! I spend a lot of time outside of work preparing what to say and analyzing my assessment skills; however it's been paying off. The key for me has been to approach these interactions as prepared as possible so I don't draw a complete blank when I show up. I also feel like with each opportunity, I'm gaining confidence in the knowledge that I have and my ability to communicate. It's amazing how a full-time placement can really change the way you view yourself as a therapist, and hopefully how your coworkers view your skills too.