On the ward as a physio
Tye Sieger is a sports-loving surfer from Merimbula who has just completed his first year as a Masters of Physiotherapy student. Tye shares the highs and lows of his recent hospital placement.
I think if I were to give a short cryptic sentence to sum up my placement experience it would be; I lost myself and then found a better version of myself along the way. Or, to be blunt, placement was tough.
To make things clear, before placement I had just about no hospital experience, either professionally or personally, I was born in one, and that’s pretty much it! So, when I was told I was going to RPA my first thought was “isn’t that the hospital for animals?”. I eventually figured out it was one of the big public hospitals in Sydney and proceeded to get very nervous as the majority of my experience was musculoskeletal physio. And I had only worked with predominately healthy people.
A multitude of questions and fears bounced around my head; “what if I drop someone?” “what if I have terrible bedside manner?” “will my educator be nice?” “will I freeze up if a patient has an arrest or something bad?” and more poignantly, and one I tried hard not to acknowledge, “what if this experience makes me hate physio?”.
Of course, I was excited too, after almost a year of study it was finally time to put it into action! Nerves and excitement bubbled away for weeks until the day came. First day of placement - it will rush up on you, it seems so far away, and then you’re there! It goes in a blur too, well, it did for me.
To answer one of my aforementioned questions/fears I was blessed to have a fantastic educator. My educator was never over critical, acknowledged my strengths, but always found something I could improve, she was a fantastic teacher and never made me afraid to ask questions. Having an excellent educator certainly made my placement a positive experience for me.
My educator was never over critical, acknowledged my strengths, but always found something I could improve, she was a fantastic teacher and never made me afraid to ask questions
We also worked in a really cool team where we essentially provided extra rehab to patients across and a multitude of acute settings. I was lucky enough to see a lot of improvement with many of my patients which always gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. Of course, I also encountered patients who refused to participate and didn’t get better. I found the hospital to be a very sobering place, every day there would be lows, but also highs. Some days I would leave ecstatic about the good work we had done. Other days I would leave caught up in sombre thoughts about how life just isn’t fair to everyone.
This emotional roller coaster combined with the time on my feet, lifting heavy patients and seeing something new every day meant I went home very exhausted most days. There were times, especially around week two and three where I simply felt lost, like I was walking the hospital wards without a brain or purpose. I would always switch to physio mode when I saw a patient, but I wasn’t feeling like myself in the slightest. I ended up going down the coast the weekend before my fourth week of placement and had some solid water time; this allowed me to reflect on my experiences so far. Long story short I was able to use this time off to compartmentalise the experience so far and draw all the positives from it.
As I alluded to above, I think I had to go through this to come out a better person. I believe that I left RPA after my five weeks a better person and a better physio, but it certainly tested me.
And for the record, I didn’t drop anyone, although some of my patients tried there hardest to be dropped. My educator was lovely. I think my bedside manner was pretty good. I luckily never had to call a code red or call for help. And while I don’t think a hospital is the place for me it certainly didn’t make me hate physio, on the contrary, I am more motivated to be better and help as many people as I can.