Learning, re-learning, challenged, fun. Those are the four words I would use to describe my experience in USC's sports residency program thus far. The experience has been absolutely incredible.
As football season comes to a close, what I have noticed the most is the experience I have gotten with acute injuries on the field. I'm comfortable being the first one to run on the field, assess the injuries, and make the appropriate decision. The thing about very acute injuries is often they do not present as they would in a clinical setting. This is why I think going through a sports residency is so crucial to developing skills as a sports physical therapist. Furthermore, for a player who complains of shoulder pain, its very hard to assess a dislocated shoulder with all the pads on. Learning new tricks to assess injuries with pads on was a really useful tool for me. More importantly, just being able to see these injuries have been tremendous to my growth as a sports PT. Concussions, ACL's, MCL's, hip pointers, broken tibia, ankle sprains, grade 1-3 AC joint sprains, dislocated shoulders, cramps, bone bruises, and many more.
The USC literature reviews each week that both the sports and orthopedic residents come together to discuss have been very eye-opening. We come together with the orthopedic residency director to discuss the backgrounds of all the authors of the articles and the articles relevance/downfalls. This has really opened my eyes to how effective the practice guidelines are, the CPR's relevance, and much more. Always is good to have a critical eye when analyzing evidence. Finally, USC brought in Laurie Hartman and Bill O'Grady this past week for all the USC residents/faculty to discuss manipulations and have a lab. It was unbelievable to feel and see how these two pioneers performed manipulations!
Lastly, the mentoring aspect of the program is what I have valued the most. In addition to getting the 4 hours of patient mentoring each week, I have been able to have additional mentoring on manual skills/special tests/interventions every Tuesday with two mentors. Each week we pick a body part and go through each test and different manual skills. They say practice makes perfect and I think this has been a really key component to my skills developing. Also, I have had unscheduled mentoring on multiple occasions. The best example of this was when I brought one of my college pitchers out to throw and one of mentors brought her MLB guys out to throw as well. My mentor spent time and helped me look at different throws to determine what to look for and what I should think about when fixing mechanics. It's times like those that I am really happy I chose USC's sports residency. I'm adding new techniques and reflecting on my clinical reasoning each week and have seen a marked improvement.