My first assignment was short and sweet, but I miss that setting all the time. It was a 4 week rotation in a Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTAC) in Memphis, TN. I was told I would be filling in for a PT going on vacation and I would be the only PT. Mind you, I graduated in June (and this is September) and I am being told I will be the only PT in a setting I know very little about. In school LTAC is really glazed over and I feel like I remember it was briefly mentioned in one lecture and there MAY have been one exam question about an LTAC. So what do I do but agree to the job without a second thought. (*Side Note: It is now May of 2020 and this rotation was September of 2019 so I will do my best from memory) What I remember from this setting is it is basically patients who have been in the hospital too long and are not appropriate to transition to a SNF, home, or inpatient rehab yet. It was a small hospital of 32 beds and half of the patients were on some sort of ventilator. I was terrified. My first week was following the PT I would be covering for as he showed me around the hospital, where to find things, and protocol as I waited to get my own login to the documentation.
Oh how was my first day?! I’m following this PT around and he’s like you have experience in wound care right? Sh*t. I have a strong stomach, I have sat inside the operating room to watch a spinal fusion. Blood and vomit don’t really phase me. I have helped wipe butts. But wound care was my weakness. I was just like “uh I took a course in it.” He showed me some tools I did not recognize and he finally asked when I graduated. Apparently “3 months ago” isn’t the most comforting answer for a veteran PT about to leave his patient’s in my care. Ya’ll, this man took me into the FIRST patient’s room for wound care. There were two wounds. One of the left hip down to the grey muscle, and one on the sacrum the size of my hand. They haunt me to this day. I stood there and was just like “this is it… This is when I pass out in a patient’s room. This is the end before I even begin.” Thankfully, I didn’t.
Oh how was my second day?! I was talking to a patient from a different part of the hospital (The LTAC was within a larger hospital) in the courtyard before going back in after my lunch break. Not 10 minutes later the PA system comes on with a Code Purple (AWOL patient) with the same description as the patient I spoke with and the same location of where he was last seen.. So I was the last one who saw him. Now I knew this man was looking for somewhere to smoke, now did he ever make it there? Who knows. All I knew was I had an interesting 4 weeks ahead of me.