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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Learning Styles

Published July 8, 2010 11:39 AM by Lisa West

It's summer. Hot, humid and sticky summer. A lot of my patients are restlessly peering out the window and wishing they were outside, free from all the reminders of their illnesses. It's also the time for clinicals, students and residencies. Our hospital is crawling with students from all disciplines - nurses, therapists, doctors, pharmacists. Seeing all of these students, and working with many of them, got me thinking about learning styles.

To be honest, I didn't put a lot of thought or reflection into my own learning style while I was in school. We had completed one exercise early in PT school that plotted your learning style on a four-axis grid, but as soon as the assignment was completed I moved onto the next task. I typed up all my notes from each class, which I thought at the time was merely a compulsive tendency and not to review the material a second time. With exams, I figured out how to memorize material for classes and went through my standard motions before each exam. During my clinical experiences, I was more preoccupied with not screwing up than with actually meticulously analyzing my learning style.

It wasn't until I was being trained in a new part of the therapy department (the day surgery center), when I jumped into the situation and my coworker stood back. She commented on how she learned better from observation and noted I was more of a hands-on-learner. I couldn't believe I hadn't realized it before - I, Lisa, am a hands-on-learner!

While this is important to remember when working with other students, it's also critical we keep this in mind when working with our patients. How do they learn best? Do they prefer a demonstration or interaction? Knowing these details about our patients can be a key difference in their success with therapy. I'd love to hear any stories you have about learning; or about your patients' learning styles.

2 comments

Excellent observation! It is a pleasure to watch your continued growth and development post graduation, the mark of a true professional.

Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz July 12, 2010 2:09 PM

Lisa,

You've posted on a very important, but often overlooked, subject.

Successful instructors (CIs or therapists) adapt their teaching style to their students' (or patients') learning styles.

Successful supervisors adapt their management style to their employees.  

When we observe those around us and adapt our behavior to meet their needs, everyone wins.

Janey Goude July 12, 2010 1:29 PM

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