Life as a New PT

Life as a New PT

Ari Kaplan, PT, DPT, SCS, Cert MDT, CSCS

A Series of Firsts

I remember my first day in the clinic. I was excited, yet nervous. After years and years of schooling, rotation after rotation, it was finally time to treat a patient….on my own. I remember the first time I did not sign a note, SPT, but instead signed it, DPT. What a feeling it was!

I also remember my first few evaluations that day. All I wanted to do as I finished up my first one was to high-five my patient and yell, “First one in the books!” Of course, I refrained from that…at least until I made it to the staff office.

I was still awaiting my results from taking my boards, and I remember the nerve wracking feeling of treating patients in the morning and knowing that I would get my results that afternoon. The running joke was “I hope I see you tomorrow….and still have a license!” While it was a joke, it was also terrifying!

I also remember the first time I had a Total Hip Arthoplasty eval and turned to a colleague and said, “I have never done this before! What do I do!?!?” There were hundreds of moments like that. Hundreds of new experiences where at first, I felt like I knew nothing for a moment.   Time and time again, a colleague would calm me down or I would quickly look up information in JOSPT or do a quick Google search.

Life as a new Physical Therapist is hard! Schooling only prepares you for so much, and then it is time to jump in the deep end. The thing that helped me the most was confirmation that I was doing the right thing. I benefited from reinforcement from the PT community when my confidence was low. I also benefited from some wake up calls from more seasoned clinicians when I felt like I was THE expert on a topic. Fortunately, the more experience I gained, and the more I learned, the more I realized there was left to learn.

PT Mentor Circle Starts

Doug Adams and I created PT Mentor Circle because we have gone through many different experiences in PT and in life. Doug went into a sports residency right out of school. Before he even graduated, he was a CI to 2 younger PT students. His first thought was, “Last week I was a student myself, how can I be a CI?” Fortunately, Doug quickly learned that he had a lot to offer these students. He didn’t have all the answers, but he was smart enough to know that where he couldn’t help, he could find others who could.

Doug benefitted greatly, that first year, from intense mentorship and has always felt that it gave him an edge. He has always felt like he needed to give back. One way he did that was being a Mentor for me as I was going through my own Sports Residency program a couple of years later. As we built our relationship, we realized that mentorship was not a one-way street. While Doug was the mentor, and I was the resident, we both were able to gain vast knowledge that led us to exploring things that the other had never imagined. Doug learned a great deal about movement screening and new manipulations and I gained knowledge on running, biking, and how to more quickly get an athlete back to sports.

We want everyone to have those same experiences. That is possible through a community that shares information! Through a community, we can continue to build the field of Physical Therapy by improving the experience of every PT who joins us. We welcome you to PT Mentor Circle.

Please remember our number 1 guiding principle:

Be helpful! Everyone has his or her own ideas and opinions. We are an evidence informed community and evidence ranges from Expert Opinion (or even novice opinion based on patterns they have noticed) to Meta-Analyses.   Respect these opinions and promote professional discussion so that we can all grow. No matter what your experience level, you can probably remember the feeling of being a new PT. Everyone has something to offer and something to learn, PT Mentor Circle is the place to do it all!


Additional Background

Consider checking out Brian Goldman’s: Doctor’s make mistakes. Can we talk about them?


Remember, we are not encouraging high-risk mistakes. You need to always be responsible with your license! We are only encouraging you to open up and share your difficulties and successes!

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