“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Ask any kid on any given day and their answer is likely to change. I know mine did.Dancer, Olympic Athlete, Nurse, Teacher, World Traveller, a Millionaire! What drove me to sign up fora road involving 2 degrees and 7 years of post grad education? It was simple really. I wasn’t the type to sit at a desk all day, I enjoyed interacting with people and had observed my mom make an impact on recovery as a nurse in our small town hospital. Add this to my personal experience as an injured athlete needing a little extra help from a physiotherapist and I was sold!
My physical therapy road began when two weeks prior to the start of classes I received a phone call stating I had been accepted to the University of Alberta. Problem; I lived in Calgary and had a job. This was my pivotal moment! With one giant leap I packed up my apartment in Calgary, quit my job and headed to Edmonton. Though scary at first and a little overwhelming I quickly settled into the swing of classes. Nothing like a little anatomy to greet you at 8 am Monday morning to begin life as a physiotherapy student!
Eat, Breathe and Sleep Physiotherapy… weeks of baggy sweatpants, multiple midnight study sessions in the library and what
seemed like an oceans amount of coffee!!! I began learning the intricacies of the human body and how as a physiotherapist I could use that knowledge to assess, diagnose and rehabilitate a variety of injuries and conditions. This road of learning however resulted in numerous trips through the dreaded “Death Valley” and moments of questioning whether I made the right choice. Death Valley you ask? It was a term used on day one of the program to describe those moments where a student would feel that becoming competent as a physiotherapist seemed catastrophically impossible! Good news…nothing is impossible!
As part of my program I completed several clinical placements in hospitals and clinics around Alberta. I worked in geriatrics at the Glenrose, general medicine in the small town hospital of Black Diamond, acute neuro (mostly patients who were in need of therapy following a stroke) at Foothills Hospital, pediatric cardiorespiratory at the Stollery and finally at Pivotal Physiotherapy working with people who had mostly musculoskeletal/orthopaedic related injuries. Though each place holds an experience of learning it was my final placement at Pivotal which had me feeling I had found the area of physiotherapy I wanted to pursue.
In the six weeks I was a student at Pivotal I learned to manage a caseload, chart appropriately, complete reports and apply my ever growing knowledge as a physiotherapy student to develop a treatment plan which would result in recovery from injury. Now, almost two years later I have transitioned from a student in need of guidance to being a teacher providing guidance to my patients. I aim to help patients succeed in achieving their goals even if day one proves to be somewhat of a Death Valley!
Brittany Erdman MScPT