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Clinical Practicum (Summer Year 1): Day 1

I’ve been meaning to write about my practical for a few weeks, because I’ve already gone to practicum three times now! This summer we are all going into one clinic 5 times, for about 4 hours each time. Our assignments are to keep a brief journal of our daily experiences, write a SOAP note on one patient, and write a plan of care for one patient.

I was placed an inpatient acute care facility. I had never been to this facility before, so I was a bit nervous about finding the Physical Therapy department. I had to park in the parking lot across a street, and was supposed to walk around the building to a different entrance. However, it started to rain and I was wearing my nice lab jacket, so I ran into the first entrance I could find!

It was a little weird to walk around with my lab coat on, and I was crossing my fingers that nobody would ask me for directions because I felt pretty lost. Thankfully I was able to follow all the signs and found the department with about 20 minutes to spare.

Then I found someone and introduced myself, and they had me wait in the break room for a bit. There were cupcakes on the table and it was hard to not eat one, but I didn’t want to be caught by my CI stuffing my face with dessert.

My CI arrived shortly, and we walked throughout the facility to the orthopedics unit. The facility was pretty large, and it took me a while to orient myself. It took me a couple hours to realize that there were two nurses stations in the orthopedics units, so I learned that I need to pay attention to my environment a little more.

The first patient had a total knee replacement My CI measured her knee flexion with a goniometer, but she was in pain and he had to measure quickly. Her knee was also wrapped up, so he had to eyeball where to place the goniometer, since he couldn’t palpate for any bony landmarks. We’ve been learning goniometry in our Tests and Measures class, but it was cool to see it it practice. I also realized how important it is to be efficient and fast, because patients tend to be in pain and I can’t take 45 seconds to set up my goni and read it.

The next patient had a total hip replacement. My CI didn’t have to help with transfers from the chair to the walker, and he ambulated pretty quickly down the hallway to the gym. My CI taught him how to go up and down the stairs, which was nice to watch because I knew what verbal cues to give to the patient if I had to teach them.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first day at practicum. Although I didn’t do anything but observe, I was able to see all the things we’ve been learning about this summer. I saw bed mobility, transfers, ambulation, range of motion, manual muscle testing, balance tests, and sensation tests. Practicum is giving me more motivation to study harder and practice my new skills, because we’re getting closer to working with actual patients instead of just classmates.


Do you remember your first day in the clinic? What was it like?

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