One thing I love about all the volunteer and observational experiences I’ve had so far in the field of medicine is that I’ve gotten to understand just how large and varied the field is, and how many opportunities it offers for potential careers. Working at different places has taught me what I like, but more importantly, what I don’t like. It’s helped me really narrow down the field of medicine I’d like to be in, if not what particular career. But lately, I’ve found that that might also not be a problem. In the area of rehabilitation medicine, there is no shortage of possibilities to make an impact.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been observing once or twice at a rehabilitation center in the city. It’s pretty unique to me, because it’s directly attached to a larger hospital and the patient care is incredibly integrated. There’s a grapevine of people who care for the patients during their stay, from the occupational and physical therapists to the doctors to the nurses to the therapy aides. Everyone has to communicate about the care of each patient. This is the first time I’ve seen such close-knit care. The hospital in my hometown had its own rehab unit, but it was separate from the rest of the hospital and very different from the one I’m observing now.
Another difference for me is that I’m finally observing with the therapists, in the gym. Usually I’m a clinical volunteer aiding the nurses or transporting patients, but I never got to really see what happened once they reached their destination. I had the good fortune to find a lovely place where everyone works with a smile. It really is an optimistic, happy place. It might sound kind of silly to say that and sound so amazed, but after some of the places I’ve been, it’s incredibly refreshing.
I followed an OT my first day and got to learn a lot about what, in my opinion, is a pretty underrated profession. My main interest, though, lies with physical therapy. For the past few weeks, I’ve been following one particular PT who is kind enough to answer all my questions. It’s from him that I’ve really learned what kind of healthcare provider I’d like to be, no matter what career I end up in. I’ve known people in different medical careers who have definitely inspired me, so he is by no means the only one whose example I’d like to follow. But in this particular field that I am so interested in, this PT has been an amazing role model.
Although this therapist is young and seemingly recently graduated, you wouldn’t know it. He’s confident about his actions and slow to anger. He rushes nothing. Everything is at the patient’s pace. His patience and unfailing faith in the patients’ ability to get better are his best traits. I saw the change myself today. Within 1.5 hours of meeting an irritated patient, he had connected with her and she was hanging on to his every word. Movements she refused to do in earlier days, she now put in extra effort. I can’t say what her other therapists were like – I don’t know all of them, but I do know they’re all great at what they do. And each person is different in how they treat a patient, of course. But it heartened me to see that kindness and respect, along with patience, go a long way in getting someone to trust you. Again, it sounds simple. But sometimes I feel like people forget that more often than not.
I’ll never be able to say enough thank-you’s to him for letting me observe this summer. It’s been a great reminder of why I love healthcare and why I’m continuing onwards. And I know that I’ve found at least one field that I could really see myself working in one day. There aren’t enough words to describe the feeling of not being able to do anything for a patient except talk to them. Every time a limb is wrapped or the patient is taking steps, I want to be that person standing next to them or helping them. But lack of a license means I can’t do much more than offer kind words and water. And I know that still helps a little, but the ache to do more really becomes a bit more every day. I can’t wait until I’m finally there, especially since I’m starting to find out who I’d like to be when I do get there.