On an early Thursday morning, North Hills seniors Maggie Adkins and Derrick Falk discussed the next few hours ahead at Physical Therapy Now in Fox Chapel.
The physical therapy office was prepared for clients, and now all they had left to do was wait until the door opened. When it did, each patient was met with the same greeting.
“Good morning!” Maggie said in an excited voice that lingered on the last syllable.
“How are you today?” Derrick asked.
The first patient smiled and stopped just inside the entrance.
“You two are back!” she said. “I’m so excited to see you again.”
Maggie and Derrick showed her to the table where she would receive care, all while explaining it was their last day.
Their internship at Physical Therapy Now, they said, was coming to an end after nine weeks.
Days later, they reflected on the experience made possible through A.W. Beattie’s Sports Medicine program, which they have been students in for three years.
In addition to assisting physical therapists with each patient, they completed tasks like wiping tables down, doing laundry, folding towels and pillowcases, ensuring the hydrocollater was the right temperature, and setting up hot packs.
“It was interesting to see physical therapists in action,” Derrick said. “We’ve done a lot of simulations in class, and this brought real physical therapy care to life.”
“It was amazing just seeing the success that the patients would have and seeing the impact that physical therapists have on making someone feel better,” Maggie added. “We would also talk with patients, which for me was my favorite part.”
They would also get to know patients who visited with regularity.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking at first, but I got more comfortable as time went on,” Derrick said. “There’s definitely a balance when it comes to speaking with patients while getting things done for them.”
Part of the patient care experience, Maggie said, was learning about patients beyond their injury or ailment.
“Some patients would start out hardly being able to move their wrist or foot, and after being at therapy for just a little bit they were already getting better,” she said. “There are so many different injuries that you will be treating in physical therapy, and each patient will have different goals. Some patients are easier than others to treat. I also learned that you have to be good at multitasking. You have to be able to document, keep track of time, and also talk with the patient. You need to make sure that the patient knows that you care and that you provide good customer service. Otherwise, they will not want to come back and may go to another therapy place.”
After their first few days, Maggie and Derrick said, they felt self-assured and began to complete tasks without being asked.
“My confidence is something I have felt good about after this experience,” Derrick said. “I feel like I understand what I’m doing. I know that my time (in Sports Medicine) has put me ahead of other people who didn’t join the program that are going to be in the same major as me.”
Derrick plans to attend CCAC for two years before transferring to a university to become an Athletic Trainer.
“I’ve always wanted to do something related to sports, and I want to help people,” Derrick said. “Becoming an athletic trainer is the perfect combination.”
Maggie is considering pursuing a career in the hospitality field, perhaps as a flight attendant or working on cruise lines.
“Working at Physical Therapy Now has definitely made me realize that working in hospitality is an opportunity for me,” she said. “The main thing that I am looking for in my future is to get a job that I enjoy going to each day and that has a good impact on people. Having this experience has shown me that hospitality is a possibility for me… I think that It would be amazing to travel. There are so many different places to go to and I look forward to exploring. I would be able to meet new people and make connections. It would be a job that I would truly want to go to each day.”
Derrick and Maggie also thanked their instructor of the last three years, Mr. Vtipil, Co-Op Coordinator Mrs. Vano, and the staff at Physical Therapy Now.