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Transitioning from School to your First Job

December 30th, 2015 in  Allied Health
by Collin Liston

Starting your first job as a PT or PTA can be very overwhelming, but it can also be even more exciting! Questions like what should you expect to do when starting your first job or how can you make a good first impression may cross your mind. Don't worry, you have trained and been educated in your craft and now you're ready to hit the ground running. It takes time, even years in some cases, to feel comfortable performing all of the tasks and responsibilities that come with being a PT or PTA.

You're a clinician now! You are responsible for the care and progress of every patient you treat, but you must realize that you are not expected to know it all. In fact, trying too hard to impress your superiors and co-workers by doing too much could get you into a pickle.

Ask questions

If this is your first job, don't be afraid to say "I don't know" or ask "what would you do in this situation?". In healthcare professions you deal with people, specifically their health and lifestyle. For this reason you need to leave your pride at the door. Patients come to you as the professional, and at this point you have a good idea of what you're talking about. However, I've experienced first hand how embarrassing it can be to have a patient recognize that I don't know what I'm talking about while I pretend that I have the answer. Thoroughly confused yet? Stay with me!

Bottom line is your co-workers will trust you more with seeing patients and taking on a full case load if you are using every resource available, which includes asking questions, to deliver quality care to your patients.

Don't be Superman (or Wonder Woman)

What I mean by this is simply don't expect to be able to soak everything in that day. These can be things like mentor. It has helped me a lot when I have located someone that I work with who's style and work ethic matches what I want to emulate as a professional in the future. Use them as a primary source of information for all of your questions. Taking advantage of this has helped me realize what I have to do to get to where I want to be, and more importantly what skills I need to work on before I can progress further.

These are a few ideas that I hope will help. However, there is much more out there that can be discussed, so don't be afraid to ask us questions. We can help make the transition to your first job a little easier!

Good luck!