Saturday, December 25, 2010

Clinical Contemplation on Christmas

Just killing some time between inpatient visits at the hospital on Christmas afternoon and I began envying my private practice friends who are laying comfortably at home, probably enjoying various broiled meats and season-appropriate nogs. The question popped into my head, "When did I stop caring about working exclusively in outpatient?"

The truths are, it doesn't bother me all that much that I'm in the clinic on Christmas Day, I recently realized that the PT in my head that previously thrived on athletic injuries has found joy in a variety of areas, and my vision of my long term career path may be less clear than ever.

My first job out of school was with a private practice, my bread and butter. I never really assessed whether I would be happy in other practice areas. Private practice was what I always envisioned doing, and ultimately someday, I would work for my own private practice. Then, I started as a traveling PT. Originally I took all outpatient assignments but somewhere along the way I fell into assignments in other settings. Now, I haven't had an exclusively outpatient assignment in over 2 years. Somewhere in those two years I learned a lot about myself, here's a list of things I never expected:

-I like home care. Not necessarily the clinical side of it, but I like the lifestyle, the freedom, and being outdoors during the day.
-Prosthetic training is cool. Many of those people are highly motivated and won't reach their fullest potential without intensive physical therapy.
-Urgent Care is a life-changing experience. You will see stuff happen in an ER that you won't see anywhere else on earth.
-Inpatient has taught me a lot about every aspect of surgery, even if I don't do acute care long term, I've learned a lot from it.

I don't have a conclusion. Maybe I have attention deficit issues and what I really like isn't any one thing, but a constant variety. But, through trying different things, I've broadened my own personal scope of practice. Some day I think I'll have to focus a little and put more effort into one portion of the PT spectrum, but for now I like seeing it all.

Time to head back to the floor. Maybe my patient will get to go home for Christmas night because of what I do this afternoon, that's pretty cool.



  1. James, Great post! I imagine there are many, many PTs out there that thrive on "constant variety". Maybe it's selection bias but we always seem to have opportunities both tangential and in line with a given practice background. Being at the intersection of so many different body systems and motivations, our field is incredibly diverse.

    And when did you work in an ER? You can do that as a traveler? I would love to try that one day.

  2. Yeah, right now I work in an hospital where all PTs are outpt, but we fill in on inpt as our schedule allows and as is needed by the hospital census. Also, we get called to the ER several times a day for brace fittings, gait trainings, etc. It's a huge Ortho population in a tiny town... gotta love Aspen. But in all seriousness, I love the variety of my day right now: Mostly outpt with a bit of inpt and urgent care to mix it up. It's definitely stimulating.