My Bay State Internship: No Place like Boston Home
For Bay State College students, internships are more than coffee runs and endless copies. Bay State students engage in opportunities that apply to their education, allow them to network and provide them with a valuable understanding of the business and industry setting. My Bay State Internship series offers a glance at what students are achieving off campus by putting classroom theories into practice.
Name: Kristina Florio
Internship: The Boston Home
How did you land your internship? What was the process like?
In the PTA program, we are assigned our internships based on our professionalism, academic record, and recommendations from professors. We have the option to meet to discuss our preferences for clinical opportunities. It's a very exciting process when you finally find out where you are going, as you finally get to see and practice what you've been learning in school in real life.
What were your duties as an intern? What was a typical day like?
As a Student PTA, I was able to perform treatments with patients alongside my clinical instructor who was a licensed DPT. She would allow me to design exercise programs for strengthening and perform/teach these to the patients. We would also perform treatments and education for wounds, tone management, and wheelchair mobility as all of our patients were wheelchair bound. We would typically see 3-5 patients in a day, spending the time needed to complete a thorough treatment. We would always coordinate with Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy if patient caseloads overlapped.
What important skills did you gain?
I learned how to position patients properly in their wheelchairs and how to customize their wheelchair to maximize function. I also learned how to create bed positioning aides to prevent poor bed positioning which could lead to wounds or pain for the patient. There were opportunities to learn Ther-Ex design, exercise progression and regression, vital signs, chart reviews, scheduling, and more. Learning how to develop a patient-therapist relationship was a vital skill as establishing trust so the patient understands and is willing to do what you ask them to. The patient education piece of the patient-therapist relationship was emphasized and helped me to feel comfortable in this aspect of the career.
What was the biggest mistake you made? What was the outcome?
The biggest mistake I made was being too timid when it came to moving or re-positioning patients. I was always afraid to use too much force or pressure as I didn't want to hurt the patients. My CI just kept reassuring and teaching me that you need to use more force to properly move or assist the patient. She just had me keep practicing to get comfortable with the skill.
What did your internship teach you about the real world that you might not have learned in school?
My clinical gave me hands-on experience with real patients that can't be emulated in the classroom. Working with people who actually need physical therapy help cannot truly be simulated in the classroom. It's a valuable experience to apply skills learned at school and see how they work in the field. The Boston Home, in particular, taught me how to create bed positioning wedges and customized wheelchair cushions.
What was your biggest accomplishment as an intern?
My biggest accomplishment was my project I completed. I designed and developed an app to help the patients remember to tilt back in their wheelchairs every 1/2 hour. Tilting provides pressure relief to the lower back/gluteal areas which helps prevent wounds from developing. Many of the patients I worked with had memory deficits but had smart devices on them throughout the day, so having an app to remind them to tilt was beneficial. My site submitted my app design for an award for technology because they were so excited about it.
What was your favorite moment from your internship?
Seeing the success of some of the patients who I treated with my Clinical Instructor. One patient was able to be discharged from PT services because of the gains he made after a few weeks of the exercise program I designed for him. He was able to gain over 15 inches in a reach test which indicated his balance was making large improvements. It made me feel like I was making a difference.
What advice would you give to someone interning with this company or a similar one?
The Boston Home was an amazing experience. It is a specialized aspect of PT as the patient population is wheelchair bound and most patients have progressed MS. It's a slower paced environment which I enjoyed because I felt I had the time to learn and absorb skills. I would highly recommend The Boston Home to other students as it truly is a site that facilitates learning and encourages the students to have success.