We asked Taylor Payne, PT, DPT of Access Physical Therapy & Wellness in Monroe, New York to share some tips for new physical therapists. See what she has to say!

1. Not every patient fits a specific diagnosis or patient picture.

Most patients have an overlying diagnosis that is the root cause of their pain, however, their patient picture masks what the root problem is. Have no fear! Focus on their impairments and tackle them one at a time.

2. Breathing techniques are sometimes the best way to decrease a patient’s pain on initial evaluation.

Some patients come into the clinic in so much pain you can barely get them to walk far enough to make it to the evaluation room. Those patients also often feel anxious because of their pain. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques can help to kick in their parasympathetic nervous system and decrease their pain immediately. This can allow you to complete your evaluation and gain your patient’s trust because you made them feel better instantly!

3. Practice your goniometry!

Although measuring range of motion is not an exact science (plus or minus five degrees), being as accurate as possible is essential. Practice as much as you can on people that are not PTs or PT students. Most students and new grads think they have their landmarks and normal ranges down pat until they get in the clinic and are dealing with patients that do not understand what is being measured. Practice makes perfect!

4. Greet all patients with a Hello and a Smile!

In case you haven’t already noticed, most patients that come to physical therapy have an impairment that they wish they could wave a magic wand over and heal immediately. No matter how busy your day is or feels, take the time to smile and say hello to any and all of the patients entering the clinic. Figuring out the names of patients that are being treated by your coworkers and saying hello to them makes them feel welcomed and cared for. If the patients in your clinic feel good emotionally, likely they will feel better physically—and they will be a patient for life!

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