As the “second wave” of Covid-19 hits the United States, Covid Cases continue to skyrocket, with the country consistently seeing over 150,000 new cases per day. Thus far in the Covid-19 Pandemic, there have been over 11.8 MILLION cases and 252,000 deaths. This virus is like nothing any of us have ever seen our lifetime. Luckily, we are blessed with amazing healthcare providers who have sacrificed so much, to save countless lives. We will be forever indebted to these amazing individuals. Today, I am incredibly excited to share my conversation with one of these marvelous health care providers,@DPT.Steph.

Dr. Stephanie is an Acute Care Physical Therapist in New York City, which for much of this pandemic has been the epicenter for the disease. She has been on the front lines, and I truly appreciate not only her commitment to her patients day in and day out, but also her advocacy to get people to understand how debilitating and terrifying Covid-19 is. Stephanie has also done so much to advance the Physical Therapy Profession. She is continuously promoting for the profession, as well as helping the future of the PT profession by offering guidance to pre physical therapy and current Physical Therapy Students.

WHO IS DPT.STEPH?

Why did you choose physical therapy?

I chose to be a physical therapist to have a positive impact on others. I want to show my patients they are able to achieve their goals, they can maintain or gain back their function in order to live their life to the fullest.

What has been the biggest benefit of having your social media presence?

I love being able to have a positive impact on the future of the profession. There are so many things I wish someone told me throughout the entire process and I knew I had to share! Being able to see how much I have helped so many future and current students has been incredibly rewarding.

Who has been the most meaningful patient in your clinical career?

When I had my affiliation in acute care oncology, I was able to help a man in his final days. The family was unable to get him home on hospice because he declined so quickly. I remember evaluating him day 1, walking independently in the hallway, we thought he would be gone over the weekend. We came back after the weekend and he was now steadily declining in function. By the end of the following two weeks, he was struggling to even get to the bathroom. Being able to truly help someone move in their final days to do such little things was so terribly heartbreaking but truly the most rewarding thing I could do.

What makes you love acute care?

I always enjoyed the medical side of things, helping patients figure out what is going on with them, how their function is impacted, and the challenge of how to best help them in ‘acute’ situations. I also like the variety of patients, you can be on so many different units!

NYC ACUTE CARE: COVID-19 PANDEMIC

How has the guidelines for Covid changed for you in the hospital from the beginning of the pandemic vs currently?

  • Beginning: dont wear a mask, screening patients if they actually really need PT before we go in, proning people in day and night shift
  • Middle: wear an n95, face shield, gown, gloves, hair covering, shoe covering, having a “buddy” outside of the room should we need anything during the session from the outside since us nor the patient could leave the room
  • Middle/currently: wear an n95, face shield, gown, gloves AND patient wears a mask, no more buddy system, allowed to leave the room in the gown and masks but dont touch anything, patient still cant leave the room

*still kinda chaos

How has it been living in New York City during the pandemic?

Mask up, wash your hands.

How has your clinical practice changed during covid?

During COVID and being on the front lines, we had to learn to adapt to daily changing protocols. We must remember that patient status can also change at the drop of a hat. There are so many more medical things to consider now as we learn more about the disease and its process so we are truly working as an interdisciplinary team more so than ever before.

TIPS FOR STUDENTS

PRE PT

Biggest piece of advice for students currently going through the

Application process?

Be confident! I wish I had someone tell me that I was enough, I doubted every step. You just completed a college degree (most likely, I know there are exceptions here), observation/volunteer hours, extracurriculars and you did it! Research the schools well, make sure you meet the requirements (!!!) & put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid.

What should students look for when deciding on what schools to apply to and end up attending?

  • Cost is a big one for most people – look at instate vs out of state tuition, room/board, travel, etc. If its too much, take a gap year, work, save up. You dont need to go to the top program or most expensive program, you get the same degree & clinicals or other experiences you can get anywhere, it is what you make it.
  • When you interview or talk to people from the program see if they truly care about you as a person, what vibe you get, or is it very student/facutly, serious relationships. Look for a program that views you as a future professional colleague & wants to see you succeed!

Student Physical Therapist

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for current Physical therapy students?

Ah my famous “Stay in your lane!” It is so easy to compare yourself to other students whether its in your cohort or those online. You need to worry about your study habits, your test grades, your clinicals, follow your heart and gut for your interests, and complete this schooling FOR YOU. It is you and the patient in the future, one on one with no one else, so do it for yourself and your future patients.

What was the hardest part of the NPTE exam?

The length. Honestly take as many practice tests as you can just to build up your endurance, its a marathon!!

What things can current Physical therapy students do while in school, to separate themselves from their peers?

Find what interests you and run with it. If you cant find the extra curricular or volunteer experience or research opportunity or clinical you want to do, create it. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry about “separating yourself from your peers” instead focus on being the best clinician you can be for your patients.

What should new grads look for while searching for a job out of school?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS: what is the productivity requirement, what is the mentorship, if any, is like, room for raises/growth. DO NOT, DO NOT, settle for a job or salary. If it sounds too low, it is, don’t take it. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!!!

VIEWS ON PT PROFESSION

What do you view as the biggest problem in physical therapy?

We don’t advocate for ourselves. I don’t know if its the personality type this profession attracts (not meant to offend anyone but just a thought) but there is SO much complaining with not many people being the change they want to see. Market yourself, your skills, you have what it takes, put it out there. If you don’t see what you want, make it.

Where do you see the physical therapy profession heading in the future?

In the future, I think the PT profession will continue to grow and push forward that we are enough as front line providers, that we will get complete direct access across the country. There are a good portion that are sick of the current system and pushing for a change.

FUN FACTS ABOUT @DPT.STEPH

What are your favorite health/physical therapy Instagram accounts?

How do you balance your time with work, social media, and self care?

The pandemic has allowed me to spend more time on social media as I honestly have nothing else to do outside of work lol…. Over the summer as we were calming down a bit in the hospital with cases, I felt the burn out hit me and I started prioritizing me a lot more, I was not posting as much or let alone checking in much. Now more than ever, we need to listen to our mind and body when its trying to tell us to slow down.

How do you decompress after a long day at the hospital?

Eat, sleep, netflix. I really started cutting back on social media because as I started this page it became my life – social media is tough! But it really consumed too much of my ‘down time’ and I didnt really have any. Some days I’m too tired to do anything else, sometimes I read or watch a good tv show. Days off: I try to get outside as much as I can!

What podcast/youtube series do you listen to?

Honestly, I’m a big makeup junkie – I know that wont phase literally anyone but thats what I used to (its kinda died down) binge on youtube

What is your favorite muscle in the body?

Can I have 2? I honestly love quads and hamstrings, they’re just so powerful and can be such a driving force for so many movements, and they’re fun to train!

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