Graduating is an extremely stressful time, especially when you don't know what to expect. Queenie Wu recently graduated from the University of Toronto and is currently launching her career as a physiotherapist. Follow along as Queenie shares the top six lessons she learned as a new PT grad.
This blog was contributed by Queenie Wu, a registered physiotherapist, who received her Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Queenie aims to find the root cause of symptoms and provides her clients with personalized treatment plans tailored to each client’s unique goals.
After studying in school for so many years, I still remember how excited and nervous I felt as I was starting my career as a physiotherapist. Many things happened soon after graduation. I started two jobs, I was involved in multiple teaching opportunities and I started my own blog! Reflecting on my experiences as a new grad, I summarized the top 6 lessons that I learned and hope to share with you:
Lesson #1: Be a sponge.
Learn whatever you can wherever you are!
Tips: Casual positions can give you a great idea of what you like and don’t like and also an opportunity to work in different settings if you’re unsure of where you want to practice. Always carry a positive learning attitude and be professional. Every learning experience may potentially open to more opportunities.
Lesson #2: You can still treat without a specific diagnosis.
You completed your assessment and you don’t have an actual diagnosis… don’t freak out! You can still educate clients on what you know and what you ruled out. You can help manage their symptoms and address other contributing factors (psychosocial, environmental, ergonomics, etc.). You know a lot more than you think!
Tips: It often takes more than the initial assessment to form an accurate clinical impression.
Lesson #3: Consolidate what you know first.
There are numerous courses out there but I think it’s important to consolidate the skills you already know before learning too much too soon. Continuing education also comes in many different forms. There’s traditional in-class courses, webinars, online courses (offering much greater flexibility if you’re working full-time hours like me), conferences, in-services or rounds (offered in some workplaces), self-study or research, journal clubs, etc.
Tips: Try taking courses relevant to your practice setting (and of course something you’re interested in) because you need to have the opportunity to practice the skills you learn. You also learn lots by simply asking questions and learning from the people you work with!
Enrolling and taking online courses on Embodia is a great way to develop new skills from the comfort of your own home. All the information needed to execute a technique or posture is available online, with videos of instructors effectively guiding the viewers through the course.
Lesson #4: Learn when to say no.
It’s always exciting to get invited to job interviews! Interviews are an opportunity for both YOU and the clinic to learn more about each other. However, don’t feel pressured to say yes to a job offer if it’s not something you want.
Tips: Don’t rush! It doesn’t look great on your resume if you leave soon after starting a job. There are many opportunities out there and it’s always better to accept an offer that you can commit to.
Lesson #5: Pursue your passion or hobby... even if it takes you a little outside of your comfort zone.
I wasn’t sure if I should start teaching (worried that I may not have enough experience) and I wasn’t sure if I should start my blog (because of the time commitment) but eventually I decided that it’s never too soon to do what you love! Moreover, my students have been very appreciative of having a new grad preceptor who can relate to their experiences and tailor their learning experience to what they’re currently learning in the classroom.
Tips: Sometimes you just have to stop thinking and put your thoughts into action!
Lesson #6: Take time for yourself.
It’s the start of your career. You want to give it all you’ve got and pursue your dreams! BUT work is only one component of your life. I am a huge advocate for self-care in health professionals because we need to take care of our own health before we can help others on their health journey.
Tips: There’s never a real ‘balance’ in life so the balance may simply be to strive for a balance between our work, family, friends, interests and any other commitments that we may have.
Queenie Wu is a registered physiotherapist who received her Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto after completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto (focusing on human biology and psychology). She is a lifelong learner and is consistently involved in continuing education through self-study, courses, webinars and conferences. Queenie serves as a mentor, laboratory facilitator and holds a Status-Only Appointment (lecturer ranking) with the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. Queenie is also a facilitator for the Interfaculty Pain Curriculum at the University of Toronto, which is an integrated, interdisciplinary, pain curriculum that is a mandatory component of health science curricula for all pre-licensure health science students at U of T.
Learn more about Queenie's journey on her blog by clicking here!