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How to survive your physiotherapy clinical attachment version 1.0

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How to survive your physiotherapy clinical attachment version 1.0

Post by Mr Jack on Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:48 am

Most students have expressed their anxiety and concerns about the up-coming clinical attachment.

“I’m terrified of making a mistake”
“How do I pass/do well for my clinical attachment?”
“How do I get past my fear?”
“How am I going to handle my patients and my clinical educator?”


This article aims to help you prepare adequately for your upcoming attachment.

Welcome to your clinical attachment!

The clinical attachment is designed to get you acquainted with an actual healthcare environment. You get to consolidate your clinical knowledge, your practical training and start interacting with all kinds of healthcare providers and patients to have the firsthand clinical experience before you start work upon graduation.

So: No one really expects you to think or acts like an experience physiotherapist.

To maximize your learning experience, there are a few areas that you will need to follow up before the start of the attachment.

Clinical knowledge of the area that you will be doing the clinical attachment

Refresh on the basic clinical knowledge on the common conditions presenting in the clinical attachment. Refer to the manual and checklist provided to you by the school.

There is a meeting between you and your clinical educator. Go through the manual with them. Get the more information from the CE such as:

a. what are the typical cases that you will see
b. what is the CE’s expectation of your performance
c. what would be the caseload
d. get the contact number of the CE if you need to communicate on your absence or other issues

All this are important to establish and align your expectations and your CE expectations.

Background work
1. Find out more about the department/hospital that you are posted to. Different places have different working ethics and staff culture.
2. Find out more about your clinical educator (do not be too explicit on this)
a. Check out the academic qualification of the CE
b. What was the career experience
How to do this background work?
a. Casually ask your CE during the meeting:
a. Did they do their training in Singapore or overseas?
b. Have they been in the same hospital since graduation?
c. What are the working hours for the hospital? Do staff usually stay back after work?
d. Are there in service training for the staff? Can you attend those training sessions?
b. Ask your friends/students who had undergone placement in the hospital.
c. Use the forum: www.singaporehealthcare.org to share your experience so that others will benefit from your experience.

Starting on your attachment
Adopt the values of Integrity, Professionalism, Open Mindedness, Excellence and Mutual Respect will go a long way.
Start off the attachment by being punctual and dress appropriate based on the department’s requirement
Be respectful to the people in the department (this include counter staff and cleaners). You never know when you need someone’s help (e.g missing laptop).
Reassure yourself that you have prepared for the attachment
Knowledge – checked
CE’s expectation – checked
Background info – checked
During the attachment
Remember this is not about you. It is about the patients and your performance on managing the patients.
Different CEs have different approaches to guide their students to ensure that their students are able to manage the patients safely and adequately. The best way to understand their approach is by communication, communication and more communication.
Some tips and trick to survive through the attachments (gathered from various feedbacks both from CEs and students):
1. You are not expected to know it all. It is always okay not to know something. It is never okay to pretend you do if you don’t
2. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while before you get comfortable. At the end, always be comfortable and be confident.
3. Take a deep breath. Your CE will not let you kill your patient.
4. Don’t be afraid. Things may seem hard at first, but things are easier once you relax and realized you know the material.
5. Do not expect to know all the answers. However you should learn how to recognize an information need that you or your patient may have, and where to go to answer that information need
6. Always keep in mind that it’s all about the patients
7. Your job is to keep your patient safe. Anything short of that is unacceptable
8. Write everything down. There is so much going on that if you don’t write everything down, even small stuff, important information can get lost in the tide of information coming at you
9. Develop a system of categorizing your information.
10. Sometimes you have to have a thick skin
11. Don’t ask someone to do what you will not do yourself.
12. Pay close and careful attention details and to follow the proper steps.
13. Develop good habits and safe habits at the beginning of your experience
14. Take responsibility.
15. Don’t make assumptions
Some tips and trick to survive from your CE (gathered from various feedbacks both from CEs and students):
1. Show respect and remain open minded.
2. Offer sincere appreciation of the teaching they provided
3. Occasionally, offer sincere praises and compliments of their good work. But don’t do it too much or insincerely, otherwise you’re on the wrong page.
4. Don’t bad mouth your CE. Walls have ears, and news will spread.


Some tips and trick to survive from your patient (gathered from various feedbacks both from CEs and students):


1. Don’t forget that patients are people
2. These patients are not feeling well. That’s why they are seeing you.
3. Respect the patient and his/her family.
4. Show that you are interested. Make it a point to find out one personal anecdote. A sincere apology goes a long way
5. Always be empathetic. Be honest, have kindness and never forget the person behind the illness.
6. Treat patients as unique individuals. Everyone is different.
7. Be nonjudgemental, especially when a patient’s values or decisions are different than your own

Some tips and tricks to manage your stress (gathered from various feedbacks both from CEs and students):

1. Learn to laugh at yourself (and your CE – although not infront of them please)
2. There will be some good weeks and some bad weeks
3. Share your experience with a classmate, friend or family member
4. Talk to a lecturer, or physiotherapist who is passionate about the work. Let them shed some light in the gloomy skies.
5. Taking care of yourself: physically, mentally and professionally




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Re: How to survive your physiotherapy clinical attachment version 1.0

Post by longhardpull on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:25 am

Nice post. I see this applicable to almost all fields of work, whatever the content knowledge.

At the end of the day, it's all about having an open mind & upkeeping a learning disposition. Good luck to the students out there.

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Re: How to survive your physiotherapy clinical attachment version 1.0

Post by Mr Jack on Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:59 am

reference guide to all the physiotherapy students going for their first clinical attachment in the hospital.

good luck!
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Re: How to survive your physiotherapy clinical attachment version 1.0

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