I am a physical therapist for Orthopedics at UW Hospital. I typically work with patients who have undergone elective surgeries such as total knee and hip replacements or various spine surgeries. I also work with patients with fractures and multi-traumas. I work closely with other members of health care team: doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational and speech therapists.
There is a daily health care team meeting to discuss each patient’s status, progress and further needs. During therapy sessions, I typically assist patients with mobilization which includes bed mobility, transfers and ambulation. I help patients perform therapeutic exercises to increase their strength, range of motion and to prevent overall deconditioning.
I also educate patients on any precautions they should follow while healing and assist them with resolving any safety concerns prior to release home. My patients frequently require an assistive device for safe mobilization. In that case, I provide recommendations, assist with obtaining and training on the use of the most appropriate device, which may include canes, walkers, crutches, wheelchairs.
A large percentage of my patients require further therapy after release from the hospital but before returning home. Based on the patient’s progress with therapy, I provide recommendations on the type of facility/care which would benefit them.
I usually work with 8 to 14 patients per day. Most of my patients fall into the middle or older adult age categories, but I also work with adolescents and young adults. I might see them 1-2 times a day for anywhere between 15 – 60 minutes with a typical 30 minute length of visit. The patients usually stay in the hospital for 2-4 days after their procedure.
I graduated from a 2.5 year Masters of Physical Therapy Program at UW-Madison as a return-to-school student after a 10-year break.
The part of my job I like the best is the fact that I assist a lot of my patients during their transition towards improving their quality of life after surgery. I also enjoy the fast pace, multi-tasking, constant need to adjust and re-evaluate my plans and constant interactions with patients, their families and other health care professionals. The least favorite parts of the job are the time spent on paperwork and the situations when I am not able to help patients in reaching their goals.
In last ten years, the average patient’s hospital stay has shortened due to changes in financial reimbursement from insurance companies. That in turn decreased the time during which PT can prepare a patient for release home or to decide on the best setting for a patient to reach therapy goals.