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Journey of a DPT Student

PT Students Working Holidays

Published December 3, 2013 5:45 PM by Lauren Rosso

It's the age-old question for PT students on rotation around the holidays -- will I be expected to work? There's inevitably that awkward point when the issue finally surfaces and you find yourself trying to test the waters mid-conversation. Someone brings up Thanksgiving, which spins into the winter holidays, and all of a sudden you're in a panic as you realize that for the first time, you won't get three weeks off for winter break. Will they really need me? Do they really expect me to be here?

All of a sudden, you want to throw away what you've worked for since the start of the clinical as the real world hits you in the face. My own caseload? Take it back. A taste of independence? I'd rather not. My acceptance as a coworker rather than a student? Don't need it.

And that's just the outpatient side. I really feel badly for my friends who are in the hospital. What happens then? There's an even more awkward conversation to be had about working Christmas Day, New Year's Day etc. During my first rotation, I worked the 4th of July. It was a conversation I didn't feel like having, so I followed my clinical instructor's schedule and watched the tailgates from a hospital window. It's a whole new ballgame around the winter holidays. There's a little more at stake.

It's depressing to face the working world and realize that for the rest of your life, there won't be a conversation to be had. We're hanging onto the last piece of our youth! As for me, my family lives close by so working near the holidays won't be anything more than a realization that the real world is just around the corner. Thankfully I'll still get to spend plenty of time with them. As for the rest of the joys of being a student, I think they're long gone. Goodbye, holiday ski trips. Goodbye, lazy weeks.

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2 comments

You bring up a good point.  I am a first year student who is about to embark on my first clinical experience and it is in a hospital setting.  I have been communicating with my CI and have struggled with having to word the question of having to work weekends.  I am excited to make the next step in my education by working in a hospital setting, but I am also struggling with the idea of having to grow up.  It's definitely tough seeing friends on Facebook and other social media who have spring breaks and lazy weekends, but I just have to remind myself that I am working towards the ultimate goal of a very fulfilling professional career.  

Emily Brown, , SPT ECU March 16, 2014 3:43 PM
Greenville NC

Thanks for your postings! As a third year physical therapy student I look forward to making the transition from working under someone elses shadow to working and creating my path as a clinician. As a student on clinicals I've worked my various holidays like you said, it's easier to just sit back and watch from the inside of the hospital than to speak up about a chance of getting off to spend time with your family who can only be home on the holidays. But what I've come to learn is how fun being in a hospital during the holidays can be! Today at the hospital we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday, everyone ate goldfish and someone made a cake! Most recently we celebrated Valentine's day. I'm working with inpatient pediatrics right now and I paired up with the recreational therapist and we brought all our patients together to make Valentines holders to go on the door. Lots of the staff and patients made Valentine's for each other and delivered them to the patients. What a great way to celebrate Valentine's day! Two years ago I spent Halloween in an inpatient rehabilitation center and I will never forget the reaction from one of my new patients who was admitted that day. Lots of hospital staff dressed up and the patients loved it! I dressed up with a team of PTs as "Eighties Ladies." We wore bright colors, crazy jewerly, bright makeup, and sideways pony tails. It was my clinical instructors idea. At the time, I was working with patients with traumatic brain injuries. The day after Halloween, when we were in our "normal clothes" this particular new patient who I evaluated on Halloween looked very releived to see me in normal clothing. He couldn't hold back the question as to why everyone  looked so strange yesterday! He certainly thought this was an odd hospital! During the Christmas season I have great memories of utilizing a Christmas tree we had set up in our rehab gym in the hospital. Once of my patients who suffered a TBI and had severe expressive aphasia just loved the Christmas tree. This allowed me to become creative with my interventions and utilize the tree during therapy. I gave her multi-step tasks to decorate the tree and even place and retrieve packages of various sizes and weights from below the tree. She just loved it! So my advice to the many who do work in hospitals during holidays is to embrace it! Have your patients participate in dual task activities, let them create a list of new years resolutions while standing on an uneven surface if they need to work on balance and cognition. The possibilities are endless! Utilize those Holidays as best you can to learn more about your patients, bond with your staff, and bring joy to the world of physical therapy!

Rachel Webb, Physical Therapy - SPT, ECU March 3, 2014 6:51 PM
Greenville NC

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