As of Friday, August 5, 2016, I officially completed my Level IIA fieldwork experience! I was a little unsure about things, initially, because I was working about two hours away from where I had anticipated, but everything worked out just fine (if I have learned anything in the last couple of years it is that God always provides).
I worked in 4 skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for the summer and absolutely loved my experience. Working with the elderly is my passion and has been for quite some time now. I believe part of this comes from how blessed I have been with the presence of my grandparents in my life but also my realization that this is such an underappreciated population! Our nation and our nation’s youth could benefit from the life lessons and wisdom that can be provided by older adults. They are an absolute wealth of knowledge, stories and talents. Getting the chance to be graced daily with the sweet faces of my new friends made my day, everyday. I’m excited to earn my doctorate May 2017 and start a career where I can serve the elderly and make a positive impact in their lives.
This summer I gained experience with documentation: writing daily notes and progress notes, creating treatment plans and discharge summaries. I believe my education thus far has prepared me to write thorough and relevant documentation. I struggle sometimes to keep my notes succinct, but I also noticed that the busier I was, the more succinct my notes, so this problem will likely solve itself once I am in practice. Becoming more confident with documentation helped me to feel better prepared for the workforce- this is important as this is how our services are funded.
In addition to gaining experience with documentation, I gained experience with carrying out interventions with patients. As most healthcare professionals would tell you, direct time with patients > documentation (but I digress as documentation is a completely necessary part of our work). It became apparent pretty fast that there was no being shy during treatment sessions. When there were breaks in between exercises, pauses during functional mobility, really whenever there was silence, there was an opportunity to get to know your patient on a more personal level. Granted, I am still working on my repertoire of conversation-starters (I may or may not have asked every patient I served if they had a dog or liked dogs because I could talk about dogs alllll day), but thankfully, I have been blessed with the gift of gab, so making conversation was something I embraced. I found that patients are much more motivated to work with you despite feelings of fatigue, pain or boredom when they feel as though you have connected with them and you have developed rapport.
The last thought I am going to leave you with is the importance of the student-clinical instructor (CI) relationship. Unfortunately for some students, their CIs are not personable and are at times, plain mean. I was downright blessed with my placement as my CI was a gem. She was very professional while also being personable and I felt as though I gained so much knowledge about patient care, customer service and life, in general, from her. I think the relationship a student has with their CI can make or break a fieldwork experience. Being cognizant of this, I know I will do my best to be the best CI I can be when I am presented with the opportunity to have a student join me for a fieldwork experience in the future. Thank you for reading and I look forward to updating you with my Level IIB experience in sunny, Galveston, TX!