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Transition to Rehab Management

Pulling It All Together

Published March 22, 2012 2:16 PM by Karen Schiff

As my quest for a doctoral degree progresses, I find myself looking at the art of physical therapy in a different light. Initially, not knowing what to expect or what I needed to brush up on was high up on my fear list, not to mention having to keep an average of at least an "80" to pass. At least I could achieve a "C" more than 20 years ago in PT school. Thankfully, I have excellent resources around me to discuss any issues I may have while I move ahead in this transitional DPT program, and even a shoulder to cry on if need be.

Advanced Human Anatomy. This course actually made sense! This is the meat and potatoes of our practice. What I realized from this course is that I actually retained some of what I learned many years ago. The difference was that I absorbed more information from this course, because of the good baseline knowledge and practicing it for years. That was the "ice breaker."

Then came Evidence-Based Practice. Wow. I never even heard of this until recently, from students coming to the clinic. Quite a challenging class, but at least now I can understand and interpret studies done to further our profession (and consider doing this myself in the future). These classes were a perfect opening to studying The Guide to Physical Therapy, and now Pharmacology and Differential Diagnosis. Each semester is bringing more information, education and excitement to practice.

I find myself rationalizing with case managers and insurance companies why a number of visits are necessary for a particular diagnosis (The Guide). I have discussed treatment strategies/alternatives with physicians and an ARNP (based on evidence-based practice). I have reviewed medications and dosage of each with patients and discussed possible interaction and effect on their physical therapy treatment (pharmacology).

I have been called to assist a speech therapist whose patient was having epigastric pain that was annoying him all day, unchanged with position, to decide whether to call 911 or the primary physician (differential diagnosis). I am actually pulling it all together now, extremely pleased with the decision to pursue a graduate degree. This is all very possible, and strongly encouraged to recharge a therapist's inner drive. As my most inspiring mentor says in reference to studying for a doctoral degree in physical therapy, "It teaches you what you don't really know," and it makes me understand how to pull it all together.


Thank you, Toni!  At this point in my life, and I believe in many of our lives, we value education like never before.  It is motivating to  hear that our decision to expand our knowledge is possibly inspiring others to do just the same.  Just this week, another PT I work with announced to me she is in the process of applying to my school.   Besides working full-time, not only is all this possible, but inspiring to our children, and our patients.  Our patients value our knowledge, no matter what degree we have. With almost half of this process completed, I realize that we can provide our clients with the very best care than ever before.  Now, back to Pharmacology......   have a great weekend!!  :)

Karen Schiff March 24, 2012 8:40 AM

You're going to do fine. I had the jitters too when I started working on my tDPT.  You'll be surprised what will come back to you.  Yes, there is a learning curve for research, EBM, etc, but you move through it quickly.  My program, and probably yours, was designed for PTs who've been in the work force and not academia.  They take into consideration that most, if not all, of the students are working.  

Good luck with your studies.  Not only have you made the right decision but you'll grow exponentionally as a therapist.

Toni , March 23, 2012 5:59 AM

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