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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Teaching a Student

Published August 25, 2011 2:53 PM by

This is my student's last week of her clinical in acute care. She spent 12 weeks working in the ICU with me, and her next two clinicals will take her to outpatient facilities. It's really amazing how quickly the time went and as I complete my student's final assessment, I'm wondering if I was able to teach her everything she will need to know.

My head is swimming with questions. Did I give her enough feedback? Did I allow her enough space to problem-solve on her own? Did I give her the opportunities to see new patients, to treat different diagnoses? Did I emphasize the right things, at the right time? Did I expect too much, or not enough? Did I give her the framework to continue her own development as a therapist? Did I make the clinical enjoyable, or was it too serious? Did I teach her good habits? (My mother tells me these are the same questions that parents have as their children go to college or move out.)

When I was a student, I never really considered the position of my clinical instructor. I didn't ever think about how much they too struggled with, or thought about my experience in the clinical setting. But now that I am a clinical instructor, I understand that having a student offers just as many challenges as being a student.

Ultimately, I hope I have been as good a role model as I had hoped to be. I hope my student leaves this clinical thinking that she chose the right career, that being a physical therapist is a fun and challenging job. I hope she knows how many patients' lives have been and will be improved because of her work.

I'm not sure if I will ever completely know if I was a good instructor. Sure, my student provides an assessment at the end of the rotation, but it's more of a general review than a detailed feedback form (as far as I know). I guess with more experience as an instructor, I'll learn how to alter my approach to better fit my students, and I'll improve my own skills of teaching someone else the things I know.

What about you? Have you ever been a clinical instructor? How do you know if you were a successful teacher?


My best students, and the ones who I would be happy to have treat myself or my family, have been the ones who challenged me. I like when students question me, who sometimes bring more information to the table than I can recall myself, who actually start thinking not just in a clinical way, but in a critical way. In short, if you grew through this experience, the odds are very good that so did your student. What more could you ask really?

Congratulations on taking another big step on your career development! Dean

Dean Metz August 30, 2011 1:26 PM

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