What Makes a Good Physical Therapy Instructor?
My first student starts this week. It's a quick two-week internship, just aimed at beginning skills and a brief experience prior to further coursework.
I am so nervous! As I await the student's arrival, I have been reviewing some old notes from my clinicals and tried to prioritize the concepts I think are most important to learn. Since this is the student's first clinical, I know the skills she learns will carry over into each other clinical and then into her professional life. While it is partially the student's responsibility to learn the necessary material, it is also very much the clinical instructor's duty to provide the opportunities and framework for growth.
So, how can I be the best clinical instructor (CI)? What traits do I need? How do I communicate feedback to the student in a way that motivates and improves skills, rather than irritates the student? With 18 years of schooling and four previous CIs, I have observed many different teaching styles; some are highly effective and others... well... they were not awesome.
I think being a good physical therapy instructor requires the same skills to make a great physical therapist, the same skills to be a good friend, parent and partner. It's those life skills - being able to listen to, respond to and challenge others to be better. I'm hoping this is just the beginning of my role as a CI. I hope each year to work with students, learn from them, teach them and remember the joy of starting a new path.
What about you? Have you taken students before? What recommendations can you give me?