I am writing this due to experiences I have had my new grad employees. Majority of them have a tough start and have difficulties during their first week. One of the key reasons has been due to lack of time management to meet the productivity requirements. So, I want to share some information that has helped me and few of my employees.
PT school is hard and long. But you survive it. Not only that, you managed to score a decent GPA through the program as human service is your calling. You clear your NPTE on the first attempt, and now it’s the time to find a good job. A job that can take care of huge student loans, take care of you and give you some satisfaction. After all, you wanted to be a PT to serve human being and serve society!! So, let’s talk about what should and should not be done in your first week at work to set a good impression among your colleagues, in front of your manager and get you some happiness and satisfaction at your job.
I discuss what to ask specifically during your interview process in a different article.
Time management is the key to survival in today’s fast-paced healthcare environment. Majority of places, you will get your schedule when you start the day. Based on your schedule, you need to manage your time in the facility efficiently.
Be Efficient :
Make rounds in the morning after you have your schedule. Decide the time with patients when you can see them, discuss if they will bring them self in the gym for therapy or you need to send a tech for transport. Knowing these details will save a lot of time. This way you will also find out if any of your patients have an appointment. So you can provide rehab accordingly and don’t miss them! This takes less than 10 minutes and it helps a lot to start your day right and finish it right.
Plan it out :
Based on the rounds you make, plan your day and plan your treatments. You can ask patients to do Nustep or bikes or ther-ex while you can discuss with them their progress made in rehab. You can finish your progress note simultaneously. Same for any documentation. Patients actually like to know how good they are doing, and what kind of progress they are making.
Complete documentation on the same day :
Sometimes, it happens, you had a long day, difficult day, too tired and you just want to go home. You finish your billing and daily notes but not documentation like progress notes, recert etc. But try to get into the habit of completing the documentation the day it is due. If you follow the plan out technique, you should be up to date with your documentation 95% time. No stress..
I have worked with several physical therapists who will tell me about their bad experiences in their first job, as a new grad. After all, no one knows everything and truth is no one expects you to know everything. When in doubt, communicate. Talk with senior PT in your team. If you see some problems with eating or see a patient coughing while eating, bring OT’s or SLP’s attention to it. Even though you don’t know what is wrong with the patient, you know there is something abnormal and you can just communicate with them, or communicate with your manager.
It is also very important to communicate with social worker regarding discharge planning, with the physician if you see some drastic changes in vital signs, or with nurses, if the patient complains of stomach upset or other medical issues etc. Communication is very important. You also need to communicate with family members when you see a change in functional status, like patient walked to 50 feet first time after the surgery or after a fall. Every one loves to hear good news!
Take credit for what you do :
This is little tricky. You are a skilled therapist. When someone comes to you asking a question, you turn your therapist brain on and think from that perspective, that is a skilled treatment. I always tell my staff, if it can not be done by anybody else except therapist, than it is skilled. And you need to have physician’s order for PT consult to do that except you are in a state with direct access. When someone comes asking for advise for positioning, or ROM or stretching or chair, you need to think if that person can benefit from skilled services or it is required to prevent patient’s current status from further decline.
Do not work during lunch time :
Yes, you need to relax, and take time for your self. This will actually increase your efficiency and prevent you from burning out.
When you leave work, have fun and enjoy your life:
Do not think about patients, your treatment approaches, or how stressful your day was.. It is over and you deserve to rest. Go out and have fun!
I hope you find these guidelines helpful. It’s important to serve people but it is also important to be able to do what you need to do for a long time.