Hi all, hope you had a great Fourth of July! The holiday definitely made the work week interesting, but I survived my first week of residency! It was a busy week, even crazy at times, but I have been LOVING the opportunity to think quickly and stay on my toes.
Here are some pictures from my White Coat ceremony a few weeks ago! The ceremony is meant to serve as a transition from didactic coursework to our clinical residencies, and it’s a nice way to have everyone’s families come to town before the craziness of residencies start.
My first rotation site is a clinic that does mostly prosthetics, so I have had the opportunity to see a lot of patients with lower limb amputations. One of the primary goals for these patients is safe and efficient standing and walking. Mobility is absolutely crucial to completing activities of daily living, so it’s important to ensure that the patient is able to achieve their desired mobility level. One of the reasons I chose to pursue a career in prosthetics (and orthotics, too!) is the single moment when a patient walks safely in their prosthesis (or orthosis!). They walk when they didn’t think they could. They walk when they haven’t been able to for years. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences in the world, and it’s totally addicting, in my humble opinion.
We as prosthetists do a lot to ensure that the patient can stand and walk safely. We create a socket that fits intimately with the patient’s residual limb, to make sure that forces are distributed efficiently. We pick a foot that is specifically designed for the patient’s weight and activity level. We turn set screws delicately, even by a few degrees, to adjust the alignment of the socket in relation to the prosthetic foot and the rest of the body. We torque each screw on the device to manufacturer specifications, to make sure they aren’t going anywhere (I became a torque wrench master this week, just saying…).
There’s one thing that we as prosthetists cannot control, however, and that thing is the patient. It takes just as much work, if not more work, on their end. They have to find the will and determination and grit to stand up and take those steps. They have to put their body weight through this foreign device, this conglomeration of screws and carbon fiber and titanium. They also have to put a great deal of trust in their prosthetist.
I was blown away this week by the trust that patients give to prosthetists – and even to me, as a budding new prosthetic resident! It is amazing to see this trust first-hand. The patients were absolutely fantastic, you could tell that they really, truly trusted their practitioner and were willing to take that first step. I had done a good bit of shadowing before starting O&P school, but I never really picked up on the amount of trust that’s required. The patient has to know and believe that you’re doing the best you can for them. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to design and fit a prosthesis when the patient and the practitioner do not trust each other.
While we are supposed to be learning technical skills during our residency, we are also tasked to develop patient relationship skills. It is so important to me to cultivate trust and open communication in relationships with my future patients, and I look forward to practicing this skill in the next 18 months of my residency and beyond!
For my readers, what is something that you do to instill trust in your coworkers/partners/collaborators/patients/teammates?
© Cara Yocum | Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes 2017