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Blog #62 A Note to My New Graduate Self- Part One

As any new graduate there are so many pressures including doing a good job for your employer, fitting in with a team environment and making sure that you have the knowledge and skills required for the job. As a physiotherapist however, we have the added pressure of seeing patients, showing patients that we are knowledgeable, diagnosing correctly and making sure that we retain the patients long enough so that they can be rehabbed correctly. It is so easy to be overwhelmed and when this happens it can feel like you are incompetent or in the wrong career.

Tips from a Fourth year Physiotherapist to a New Graduate:

1. Time Management: Time management is all so important especially when working in private practice. Running late can make us feel overwhelmed and subsequently we end up not thinking clearly or allowing ourselves enough time to communicate effectively.

Whilst planning patients at the start of the day, create a treatment note prior to each appointment. Write down questions that you want to ask a patient or specific objective tests that you want to assess. This will not only help you feel more prepared prior to the patient walking in but can assist significantly in reducing the time taken to write your notes following the consult.

But how do we manage time during a consult?

The best way to manage time is in the way we formulate our questions to a patient in the subjective assessment. It is appropriate to give the patient some time to explain in their own words what they are coming in for as it makes them feel heard and supported, however often we need to guide our patients to tell us specific information so that we can start formulating possible diagnoses quickly and effectively. Asking specific questions and more closed end questions can lead to a thorough and more time efficient subjective examination. Try to avoid asking questions just to check a box, rather try to ask questions that are going to give you the answers you need.

The objective assessment is sometimes the most time consuming part of the consult for a new graduate. We can get so caught up in using too many tests- this not only overwhelms us and can consume a lot a time but also can make patients sore and frustrated as to why they are not yet receiving any treatment. Try to be specific in the tests that will give you the most information so that you have time at the end of the consult to explain the diagnosis to the patient, formulate a plan and explain the information slowly and clearly. Also talk the patient through why you may be completing these tests. Slowly educate the patient throughout the session to avoid overwhelming them at the end of a consult with a heap of new information. This will mean that the patient not only understands the information better but avoids them asking all of the questions at the end of the consult that may be cutting in on your note/cleaning time or prepping for the next patient.

Stay tuned for some more advice in Part 2 of this Blog- Coming next Month!


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