Clinical Abroad – Newcastle, England
The turnaround time between our summer finals and my flight to the UK didn’t leave much room for last minute preparation. In fact, the reality that I was about to complete my first full time clinical abroad didn’t set in until I was descending into London. I’m happy to report that everything is going even better than I had hoped for!
My placement is at the Galleries Day Unit, an outpatient facility which specializes in falls prevention for older adults. Most patients have a history of falls, however others simply have identifiable risk factors that lead them to our clinic. We work with patients across the spectrum from basic balance and strength deficits all the way to advanced Parkinson’s and vestibular dysfunction. It’s an exciting place to be as a student and the people here are really committed to creating a positive learning environment.
The staff have gone above and beyond to make sure I am experiencing as much as possible while I’m here not only from a physiotherapy standpoint, but also across the continuum of care. Last week, I observed a physician in a syncope clinic where we refer a lot of our patients who have unexplained falls due to loss of consciousness. Yesterday, I spent the day with the ENT team who do in depth vestibular assessments. I even had caloric testing done. (If given the opportunity, never do this. Instant nausea.) Before I leave, I’ll even have the chance to do home visits. All of the effort and planning that went in to setting up this international experience has come back to me two fold. I’ll be very sad to leave when it’s over.
It’s obvious that our education over the last year has been extraordinary. The foundation that we built have has given me the confidence to make suggestions in clinic that have been very well received. Everyone at Pitt will be happy to know that I suggested measuring gait speed in our patients and I think we’re going to start doing it!
There’s something so liberating about moving to a completely different place, especially when you know you have a limited amount of time to experience it. For better or worse, everything is an adventure. I spent the last three weekends exploring Northeast England. I hiked part of Hadrian’s Wall on Saturday and plan to do a lot more camping/hiking in a few weeks. There are so many castles to see and not enough time! I have also met some amazing people who are making sure I have all of the “proper” English experiences before I leave. They threw me a birthday party, took me to Sunday lunch, showed me a proper English pub with proper English ale, etc. I didn’t expect to connect with so many people so quickly and I definitely expect to settle in so quickly.
This really is the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so grateful that Pitt lets us have this opportunity. I’m happy that I can have such an amazing experience and yet miss everyone at home so much. It just reinforces that I’m in the right place.
I hope all is well back in Pittsburgh. Until next time, Cheers!