The Monday Memo
September 21, 2015 PITT DPT STUDENTS
“Bringing Evidence-Based Practice to the Virgin Islands”
My trip to the Virgin Islands for my 6-week full time clinical rotation was truly an eye opening experience. I had the chance to compare my experiences working in the outpatient orthopedic clinics in Pittsburgh to my experiences working in the clinic on my home island, St. Croix.
Coming from a DPT program as established as Pitt’s, I figured that I would be several steps ahead of the competition in the Virgin Islands. However, it was very humbling to realize that what I learned in one year did not compare to the years of clinical experience that my colleagues had over me. This reinforced the phrase, “practice makes perfect”.
In the one year that I have been a Pitt DPT student, one thing that I have learned to appreciate is the importance of evidence-based practice. Therefore, as I was going into my full-time rotation, I reached out to Dr. Bise with the question, “How can I make the most of this opportunity?” He was gracious enough to share a few insightful articles with me that supplemented our research courses. These articles demonstrated the usefulness of evidence-based practice in both improving the quality and decreasing the cost of health care delivery.
I then considered how to apply this information to the healthcare system of the Virgin Islands. Ambitious I know. However, once clinic started, my side project was put on the back burner. It had hit me that bringing evidence based practice to the Virgin Islands does not necessarily entail an immediate large scale change within the system.
While in the clinic at home in the Virgin Islands, I realized how much progress we have made in the treatment and classification of lower back pain. One difference that stood out to me most was the evidence-based approach of back pain treatment or lack thereof. We know that diagnostic imaging does not directly translate to the patho-anatomic diagnosis of why the patient is experiencing pain. However, this information alone does not influence our collective success rates in the treatment of this patient demographic.
I had the opportunity to experience the benefits of using the structured evaluation and classification systems, which I learned from my curriculum, on the examination procedures of patients with lower back pain. These patients not only felt more confident in my skills as a physical therapist, but they also had an overall better attitude towards their therapy. I believe that with my training from Pitt’s DPT program, I was able to shift these patients’ perspectives of physical therapy and give them hope that they may once again live life pain free without the use of pain medication or surgery. With this experience, I saw the potential of specializing in spine care as a physical therapist practicing in the Virgin Islands.
Aside from a reflection of my study abroad experience, what I want to get across in my Monday Memo is this:
At the end of the day, our field of care is focused on the human body and its musculoskeletal system; a seemingly basic subject as everyone has one. However, there is still much to be learned and questioned about it, as well as more effective diagnosis and treatment strategies to be developed. Thus, as physical therapists, we should act as researchers as well as clinicians, as we continue to improve upon the skills and knowledge of our diagnostic techniques and treatment.
I leave you with this: Once you leave DPT school, the learning does not stop. We owe it to ourselves, the healthcare profession, and, most importantly, our patients, to continue to strive for knowledge and to fine tune our skills.
SPOTLIGHT: Congrats to Carlos Darby and Nick Hamilton who completed the Mighty Moraine Half Ironman this past weekend. A round of applause to the DPT Class of 2018 who made their official pledge to the profession of physical therapy. Finally, a big congratulations to all those who got married this past summer!
-Jeffrey Moorhead, DPT Class of 2017
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