Wednesday, January 6, 2016

5 Ways Acute Care Was My Ultimate Game Changer

You either love it or hate. If you're like me, you probably went into PT school thinking about outpatient ortho and/or sports, waiting that magical 5 years until you're good enough, and then opening up your own business.

Well, as life would have it, I would rotate through various settings and some how found the acute care hospital to be my love and passion as it pertains to the raw potential to which PTs can learn -- and -- to which PTs can contribute.

Here Are 5 Ways Acute Care Was My Ultimate Game Changer


  1. Best application of knowledge base.
  2. Highest level of clinical diversity. Yep, I did plenty of manual, ortho, and even ED.
  3. Highest level of clinical complexity. Where else are you going to get someone who has 20 different medical conditions, blood that should be melting out of their body, vital signs that make no sense, but are agreed by all in the medical team to appropriate for home discharge?
  4. INTENSITY. With the most intense medical situations & most intense patient care scenarios.
  5. Largest political canvas in healthcare. Acute care requires savvy to navigate and typically 10-15 years to move into a significant space of leadership (system level, VP, c-level, etc.), 2-5 years for first promotion. 5-10 years for leadership opportunities.

Some quick commentary. People get scared of the ICU. Well, the ICU is the safest place. You have the quickest response team right there, more monitoring that you could ever ask for. Rarely, does anything "go wrong" in terms of PT in the ICU. In fact and in my experience, all the accidents, strokes, and crazy events occurred on ortho (DVTs), trauma (complexity, despite medical stability), and medical units (because, the guard is down).

Additionally in acute care, you get exposure and opportunities to serve in wound care; be it laser, wound VAC, or MIST... or traditional stuff, sharps, even maggot. You get imaging, coordination with the entire healthcare spectrum of professionals. 

The opportunity in acute care for PT is immense. The ability to leverage nearly the entire spectrum of our clinical training is wonderful. Sure, you're not going to do mobs on everyone. But, really, is doing mobs all that PT is about? Surely not.

Think about acute care. It was the ultimate game changer for me. It remains, to this day, one of the most influential and significant leveraged experiences which affects my clinical practice.

If you're a student, get IN a hospital rotation. If you're a new grad, get some per diem hours... you will never regret it.

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