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My First Clinical Experience as a Physical Therapy Student

My First Clinical Experience as a Physical Therapy Student

It has been a while since I posted a blog…but I have been crazy busy with my clinical placement for the summer. I am at Summit Physical Therapy in Batavia NY; if you are not familiar with WNY it is about forty-five minutes west of Rochester and close to my home town. It is an out-patient orthopedic setting. The therapist I am working under has over 40 years of experience and specializes in sacroiliac dysfunction and vestibular patients; he also focuses a lot on manual techniques! I have learned a wealth of information that I know I am going to carry with me for the rest of my career! You may be wondering what in the world the terms I just described mean. I could write a whole other blog post on the definition of sacroiliac dysfunction and vestibular, but, in a nut shell, SI dysfunction is an impairment where the SI joint (or your pelvic joint) gets knocked out of alignment usually due to a fall or prolonged sitting. Vestibular patients are people who have dizziness that is often described as feeling like the room is spinning and in severe cases can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

I have learned a lot of things in seven weeks and can’t believe how fast this placement has gone! The following are a few things I have learned at Summit PT.

1. It is REALLY hard to balance having two patients at once. It takes a lot of planning and thinking about how you are going to execute each patient’s program in order to make sure each patient gets a full therapy session and personal one-on-one help when they need it! It is something you do get better at but is still hard.

2. School is only a very small part of the learning experience; you will learn so much out on clinical and will find that every professional has their own style and will teach you different things!

3. Take advantage of everything a clinic has to offer! I have been able to shadow an occupational therapist, aquatic physical therapy, and have also had an opportunity to observe surgery at the local hospital; all of these experiences have been valuable and I have learned a lot from each!

4. You will feel overwhelmed at times but that is ok! Remember your clinical instructor is always there to help you and guide you thought the process, if you don’t understand something, ask! This is a valuable lesson not only in clinic but also in college in general!

5. Make friends; I had the unique opportunity of having three other students working in the same clinic as me. We all supported each other and helped each other out. I learned a lot about other programs and what they do differently and was able to take away a lot by talking to the other students, and you never know when sometime in the future a professional contact my come in handy.

6. I DON’T WANT IT TO END! Once you go out on clinic it makes it very hard to come back to school! I even got to run the corporate challenge with the group!

I hope you all are having a great summer and keep posted for more blogs about the end of my clinical experience as well as my upcoming trip to Boulder, Colorado!


My name is Karisa; I am a 5th year DPT student who is involved in Physical Therapy Club, a Nazareth College Swimming and Diving Alumni, and member of the admissions team here at Nazareth. I love being outdoors, am an avid fitness advocate (I will do anything that keeps me moving), and I keep a rather extensive garden at my house in Rochester. I love to experiment with new recipes/food. Scrap-booking/card making is my hobby. My favorite..... color is blue, season is fall, and sports icon is still Mia Hamm! On campus you can catch me somewhere between the WRI and the Library! I am excited to share my passion about the PT program, fitness, and cooking with all of you!!