Mentoring PT Students
At Pitt, we have certain "benchmarks" that our program has assembled to guide us through the yearlong clinical. As the months roll on, there's an expectation that we will try our hands at role reversal and mentor younger PT students on their journey to DPT Year 3. I had some of my first opportunities to check this benchmark off the list last week. Lesson learned -- I have a lot to learn before I become a clinical instructor.
My shortcomings are not just from a knowledge standpoint, however I fully recognize that I need more exposure to a number of patient populations before I feel confident in my abilities to teach someone else about physical therapy. What I found more obvious was that I didn't know what to highlight, what to omit, and what to expand upon. I felt like I was basically word-vomiting everything I had ever learned about post-stroke rehab to this poor girl as she kindly listened to my "lesson." In reality, I should have kept my explanations about creative intervention strategies for hemiplegic gait to a minimum. My lack of an organizational teaching process gave away the fact that I had never mentored someone before, both to myself and likely to the younger student.
I was thinking a lot about this over the weekend. The best mentors, clinical instructors and coaches I've ever had found a way to tease out the fundamentals of each task/skill they were trying to teach. Once the fundamentals are mastered, they smoothly progress to implementation and carryover of each skill in a logical and organized way. It takes intimate knowledge of the craft to be able to do this... and I'm just not there yet. That poor 2nd-year student -- neither of us stood a chance!