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PT School Clinical: Dry Needling, Shoulder Mobilizations, and Gaining Confidence

This post is included in a 5-part series about my part-time clinical in PT school, which occurred during my 2nd year of physical therapy school. Click the following links for the complete series:

Day 1

This fall I am going to an outpatient orthopedic clinic about 6 times, for 8 hours a day. I go into the clinic every other week, so I have more free time during the weeks that I don’t go into clinic.

I learned a lot at my clinical today, including Pallof presses and muscle energy techniques. My CI had me perform shoulder mobilizations, but we had just learned that in class 5 days ago so it was helpful to practice them on a patient.

Dry Needling

I was also able to see dry needling, which I have never been able to watch before. It looks pretty gruesome the first time you see it, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. My CI was going to give a presentation on dry needling the next day, so he performed it on me. It was so weird to feel a needle digging around my upper trapezius muscle, and it definitely was somewhat uncomfortable. I had a small bruise the next day.

Observing a Back Evaluation

During an evaluation that I watched, my CI performed the Slump test, straight leg raises, Sacroiliac joint compression/distraction, and the Spring test. We learned all of these during our summer courses, so I was so excited to be able to understand what my CI was doing, and also feel confident that I would be able to do them as well.

Feeling a Bit Unprepared for My Clinical

I did feel out of place at the clinic, just because I met so many new people and I didn’t know what to do when there was downtime. I usually waited for the PT’s to introduce me to patients, but I slowly got better at introducing myself near the end of the day. My CI mentioned several times that I need to be more confident when I work with patients, even if I do not feel very confident in myself.

I learned a lot and was asking questions constantly, but I felt a bit unprepared. Another classmate also had practicum that same day, so I was reassured because he felt the same way that I did. Clinicals are all about learning and growing, and I definitely had to learn how to not be too hard on myself today.

Preparing for My Next Day at Clinic

The next time I go into the clinic, I’m supposed to be assigned two patients to watch and I’m also going to do an evaluation. The thought of doing an evaluation is scary because we just barely learned about doing evaluations, but I’m looking forward to improving my skills before my first full time clinical in the winter semester.

I plan on working on my hands on skills with my classmates over the next few weeks and reading ahead for more ideas for ther-ex, so I feel more prepared for the next time I go into the clinic.

Have you ever watched dry needling? Tell us about your experience!

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