By: Lauren Meciej
During my second semester of Athletic Training and Physical Therapy school at Marquette University, I began looking for a summer internship of sorts to keep learning while on break. I wanted to learn something new and maybe find a different field of passion, who knows? Now, I’m an Athletic Training student spending upwards of 40 hours a week in the training room, so I already am surrounded by conventional rehabilitation in sports medicine and thought I should spend my summer exploring the rehab world. I started my research and found Smith Physical Therapy + Running Academy. They were a small local business but had a lot of services to offer including injury screening and prevention, concussion treatment, treatment for balance and dizziness, running technique training, and much more. I contacted the owner, Denise Smith, and was very excited to hear back quickly. I would start in June and get to meet another physical therapist, Dana, and the office manager, Heather.
Denise had told me through email where and when to meet and to wear nice pants (she would give me a shirt). I knew what services were offered from my research of the Smith PT website but was not sure what to expect. I walked into the clinic before it opened Friday morning, excited and nervous of course. I guess I was expecting the usual treatment tables, cold tile floors, and uncomfortable silence of a clinic or training room but was definitely mistaken. The waiting area was quaint and filled with flyers for community running events and children’s toys. The two treatment rooms were comfortable and filled with personal touches and 80s, 90s, and 2000s pop hits played in the background. I filled out the usual simple paperwork about patient privacy and emergency information and was ready to start the day. I was able to observe all of the patients that came in, swapping between Denise and Dana’s rooms throughout the day. What struck me the most was that I never saw two similar patients. Because Smith PT offers so many services, everyone’s sessions focused on different treatments. On the first day alone, I was exposed to so many treatments I had never seen before. The quality of treatment was also astounding. Patients spent a full hour with the PT, something not common in the commercial physical therapy world, and sessions were so comfortable and relaxed while still being productive. I feel that students spend so much time focused on only learning the sciences that they forget how important being personable and learning social skills is. The physical therapists at Smith PT have so much to offer but social skills and patient relationship development are probably some of the most valuable. They are able to make a session feel like catching up with an old friend; this makes the patient more comfortable and the session more enjoyable.
So to wrap everything up, on your first day at Smith PT you’re probably going to be nervous, but that will quickly fade when you meet the fantastic staff and patients and flow right in to the comfortable, welcoming atmosphere of the clinic. Enjoy every second of it and take in everything you can. You’re going to learn a lot.