Charting Your Clinical Education Course
Name: Josh Hubert, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Bellarmine University
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Fun-fact: I was told by a Greek reiki-master that I am a crystal baby
Like any great exploration recorded in history, your clinical education at Regis will be a trip fueled by careful planning, curiosity, intrepid spirit, chance, and financial backing from a powerful monarch. Just kidding on the last fuel source, but the others may be necessary. I am the Clinical Education Representative for my cohort, and I’d like to share how and why I chose my first few clinical experiences. Through my process, I hope you can draw parallels to your own clinical education journey and chart a course that is ultimately fulfilling to you and your future practice. In an effort to wring my exploration analogy dry, you may be seeking cities of gold, but much like Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the late Spanish explorer, you may find that golden cities do not exist. There will be greater treasures on the journey itself (the Grand Canyon). Coronado was deemed a failure for his “fruitless” mission, but he and the Spanish people failed to recognize the beauty that had been found. Enjoy the journey and respect those you meet along the way. So, to continue with less figurative advice, here are the steps that led me to my decisions:
1. Assess your resources
Forget ships and gold! Sit down and take inventory of available resources to direct your search, just as you would use MeSh terms when searching for relevant articles in databases. Firstly, consider your curriculum requirements to determine how and when to use your resources. You must complete an outpatient (OP) and an inpatient (IP) rotation. One of your rotations must be rural, and one must be out-of-state. However, one rotation may satisfy both the rural and out-of-state requirements. Lastly, rotations II, III and IV or III/IV combined cannot be in the same concentration area. Prioritize these requirements in such a way that aligns with your vision for future practice, which is bound to change and develop. Try to set aside time for deliberate development of your vision and allow growth to happen. Enjoy the journey. The chart below that depicts these requirements.
Next, consider a location with requirements and resources in mind. Is there a clinical site that happens to be in your hometown? Or a town in which you have a friend or relative? How will you get there? This can help to lower the cost of lodging and travel, which calls to mind your living situation in Denver. Based on the dates, could you create a situation that avoids the need to pay double rent while at clinical? Do you see yourself practicing in a rural setting or an IP setting? Or maybe not? Do you have a burning desire to work with a particular population? These answers help to filter out less practical locations off-the-bat.
Did you develop any relationships with physical therapists before coming to Regis? Have you developed any relationships with faculty since being at Regis? Do these professionals practice in a place that you would like to practice? Talk to them and seek their counsel. If they work in an area that interests you, ask about potential or existing clinical education opportunities that they may know about. And don’t stop there. Research their suggestions for yourself. Just because you have developed a relationship does not mean they know exactly what’s best for you. Decide on your own when you feel enough information has been gathered.
Do you have a good idea of what you want to do? If so, go with it. It may change after your first clinical, but we are fortunate to have time for reassessment. Consider a FCFS (first come first serve) or Corporate site if you have a strong sense of where you want to end up or where you don’t want to spend the majority of your clinical time. If you choose one of these sites or set one up, you are locked in. You may save yourself time required by deliberation and also open up spots in the lottery for your classmates. However, if you are not completely sure, then consider the lottery. If a site you desire is not in contract with Regis, then explore building that bridge, under the direction of your Clinical Education advisor, and after accounting for all the sites available to you. In addition to Acadaware, there is a list of corporate companies which typically include a handful of sites in different cities both regionally and nationally. Setting up a rotation with one of these sites is much more manageable than starting from scratch, which will be more time-intensive, but worth it if you’re vision is clear.
2. Mobilize your resources
I save your Clinical Education Team for this step because I believe it’s helpful to come to them with an idea of your requirements in order to direct the conversation. I think we can agree that sitting down for a 30-minute meeting regarding 3-5 prioritized sites will likely be more productive than a 30-minute meeting covering the possibility of 134 potential sites. Your advisor is your second most valuable resource, after your own brain of course, and it’s a good idea to develop a relationship with your advisor that fosters open dialogue.
b. Pursue Your Choice
Time is a resource. Consider a FCFS or corporate site if it aligns with your vision. With the blessing of your advisor, commit to that site on the list or create a site of your choosing, and do it with gumption. If you go the prior route, there is not much else required of you than a commitment, but if you go the latter route, put in work. Understand that if the site agrees to host you, you will be required to go. Take initiative and offer to establish initial contact with the new site. If your advisor approves, compose a professional and compelling email to get the ball rolling. See your choice through to the end. If a site is unavailable, refresh and continue with your next choice in the same manner.
Piggybacking off the suggestion to narrow your site options before attempting heroic feats of decision amid many options, it is easier to cross-compare the logistics of a few sites rather than 100 sites. If you have 5 sites that all meet the same criteria you’ve established for the unfolding of your vision for practice, then maybe something simple like the cost or availability of housing distinguishes one site as the preferable option. What will weather be like during your clinical? Will there be unearthly traffic on your commute in one city? Is there good food and good beer there? These things, while seemingly superficial, may help with that final step of narrowing it down, since our quality of life is important too. #happyPThappypt
d. Enjoy the ride
Map it out as carefully as you like, but uncharted territory is only chartable once you get there. In other words, there is only so much calculation you can rely on in life before you need to simply rely on curiosity and spirit. There may not be golden cities on your course, but be sure to recognize a giant canyon for what it is…graaand. The reality is that you can take all these steps along with others and still end up with a site you did not chose. In this case, gear up for an adventure and come back with a map of your own for those that follow. Embrace each moment on your adventure as a learning opportunity whether it’s what you wanted to learn or not, and respect the people who teach you. Experience is a willing teacher and learning makes the vision clear.
Feel free to stop me in the hall or email me if you have any more questions about my experience: Jhubert001@regis.edu
Bonus Fun-Fact: I did a project in 7th grade on Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.