Working at Bayshore Physical Therapy:
A Student Perspective By Michelle Fraser
For my last placement of the physical therapy program at Western University, I had the choice to go anywhere within the school’s designated geographical area. Many people prefer to stay in London to be in the big city, while others return to their hometowns. As this placement would be my last, I was more concerned with making sure it provided me with learning experiences I had not yet gained on my other placements, as opposed to caring about what city I would be in. Since my family has a cottage in Southampton, I started to consider options in the surrounding area. I had heard good things about Bayshore Physical Therapy from a classmate who had completed a previous placement at this clinic, so I decided to put it as my first choice. So I was off to the cottage for the summer, making the daily commute to Owen Sound (which might I mention is way better than stop-and-go traffic in the city). Despite spending many summers in Southampton I hadn’t spend much time in Owen Sound until these last 6 weeks. The thing I have come to enjoy about Owen Sound is how friendly the people are. I think it is neat that pretty much everybody knows everybody either directly or indirectly, and I think this is what gives small towns a stronger sense of community. Bayshore PT in itself has felt like a little community from my very first day there. The staff has been nothing but welcoming and the patients seem right at home every time they step foot in the clinic.
One of the major things I have noticed working here versus many clinics I have encountered in the bigger cities, is the atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like we are running a factory, pumping five people in and out each hour of the day. Many clinics these days, particularly the money driven ones, try to cut down on costs by hiring fewer physiotherapists and more physiotherapy assistants. I have been in these types of clinics in the past and there is no possible way to give your patients a comprehensive and individualized treatment session, when you are seeing them for a mere 12 minutes and then passing them off to an assistant. At Bayshore Physical Therapy I found the environment relaxed and fun, yet still professional and productive. I love that fact that I get to work one-on-one with my patients from start to finish for a whole 45-60 minutes. As I started applying to jobs in the fall, I was able to further appreciate getting to spend so much time with each patient, as I came to the conclusion these types of clinics were hard extremely hard to come by. Working with a patient for the whole treatment session is important to me as an emerging physiotherapist, as it allows me to gain experience in all aspects of the treatment plan. Not only this, but I also find that having the opportunity to sit and chat more with my patients, enables me to get to know them better. Sometimes it is these extra conversations, for example while doing an ultrasound on someone, where I discover relevant details about them that help me to further understand how their physical injuries fit into the bigger picture of their lives. It also gives me time to adequately educate my patients so that they understand their own bodies, what issues they may have going on and the role they can play in this process.
It has not only been the verbal interaction with patients that I have learned from, but also the hands on experience. In school we learn assessment and treatment techniques, and they must be done and practiced exactly the way they are shown. Transitioning out into the ‘real world’ is a whole different ball game. It was very quickly (the first day of placement) that I learned as long as the basic principles are applied, you can modify pretty much any technique to suit the individual. Being a student, having the opportunity to really get my hands on and feel how various patient’s joints move or don’t move, has been a crucial learning experience for me. Learning how to put my entire body force into a treatment technique is definitely not something they teach us in school, but in reality for me being a smaller female is something I need to be able to do. Here at Bayshore Physical Therapy I have been able to develop confidence in my handling skills that will be so important to my future success as a physiotherapist.
As I am nearing the end of my placement I am happy to say that I feel I gained experience in the areas I wanted to, and so much more. Too often have I seen patients in other clinics get better, but then keep coming back for the same issue. This clinic and the staff really care about helping patients get back to their everyday activities with a more long-term outlook. I feel that digging deeper and looking for the root cause of a patient’s signs and symptoms, not the quick fix, is what separates the excellent physiotherapists from the average ones. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to work here at Bayshore Physical Therapy as I know I have gained insights that I may not have gotten elsewhere. As I go out into the workforce, I look forward to taking my positive experiences from this clinic, and hope to find a new home that values its patients as much as Bayshore Physical Therapy does!