PT Residency Journey: The Beginning

Family, full time in the clinic, occasional side gig, self care, and now — residency. It’s not a workload for the faint of heart.

Kristen Lund began her Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency with Evidence In Motion (EIM) in summer 2019. Kristen is a physical therapist with Athletico in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives with her husband, Eric, and their young daughter. Despite her very full life with you know, her family, her full-time job in the clinic, and now, residency work, Kristen has graciously agreed to share this journey with us. Before she decided to go back to school to become a physical therapist, Kristen worked as a freelance writer, so she’s a natural storyteller.

We’ll start at the beginning of her residency journey.

Why did you decide to do a residency at this point in your career and this point in your life?

Kristen: Completing a residency program has always been a goal of mine since I decided to pursue a career in physical therapy. To me, going through residency training and achieving a clinical specialist certification represents the high level of excellence that I have always challenged myself to achieve in any pursuit. I knew I wanted to wait at least a year after graduating from PT school to give myself time to adjust to full-time clinical practice, gain some confidence in the clinic, and test out my knowledge from school before learning new ways to think and practice. I had my daughter a year and a half after graduation. Now, just over two years into my career as a PT, I feel like it’s the right time to dig deeper into the field of orthopaedics and take my practice to the next level.

 

What about EIM’s residency model makes this a plausible opportunity for you?

I love the idea of a traditional residency program, and my PT school has a great one that would have been a natural transition, as they share a lot of the same faculty and emphases. However, there were several factors that made a traditional residency not ideal for me. My husband and I wanted to relocate to a new city closer to family, and we also wanted to start a family of our own fairly soon after I graduated, since I was a non-traditional (AKA older) student. EIM’s flexible residency model allows me to live in a place I love, work full-time, and have greater flexibility in my schedule, which is ideal as a new parent. Without the flexible model, I’m not certain I would have been able to pursue residency training.

 

Without the flexible model, I’m not certain I would have been able to pursue residency training.

 

What are you looking to learn and gain from a residency?

Two years into clinical practice, I realize just how much more there is to learn and how much potential I have to grow in the field of orthopaedics. While I have taken several great continuing education courses, I was ready to formalize that desire to advance my knowledge and clinical practice by applying to residency. So far, I love the combination of video lectures, assigned reading, and discussion among small groups, and have already started making changes to the way I practice based on the evidence and clinical pearls presented. EIM’s faculty are leaders in our profession, and it’s a privilege to get to learn from them — as well as from my classmates, who are very diverse in terms of our professional backgrounds and experiences.

 

What did the “start” of residency look like?

I was on vacation the first week of residency, so for me, the start of residency looked like using an iPhone hot spot in the backseat of the car, reading articles and writing discussion board posts on my laptop, while my husband drove and our daughter napped next to me in her car seat! It was nice to have a wide-open schedule to tackle the first block of my first patient management course. I’m now just shy of a month into residency, and it’s been more challenging to fit coursework into my “real” life, but it’s very doable. I try to spend a little time before or after work, while my daughter is sleeping, watching lectures or reading articles. I save my writing assignments for the weekends when I have longer stretches of free time so I can focus better — and reward myself with something fun or relaxing afterward.

 

What are some challenges you’re anticipating? What are you most excited about?

I think my biggest challenge will be that like any working professional, I have a lot of commitments to juggle. I work full-time in a busy outpatient clinic, am married and a new mom to my 8-month-old daughter, and take on an occasional freelance side hustle in my previous career field as a writer and editor. I also try my best to “walk the walk” as a healthcare provider by taking care of myself: exercising, eating well, and spending quality time with friends and family to relieve stress. It’s a challenge to fit everything in, but I’m thankful that EIM’s flexible model allows me to complete residency requirements when and where they work with my schedule.

 

What support do you have available to you as you start this journey?

My husband Eric is my biggest supporter. From the moment I brought up going back to school for physical therapy, seven years ago now, he’s been nothing but encouraging and always believes in my ability to do whatever I set my mind to. I’m also fortunate that my company, both on the corporate level and in my local clinic, are supportive of residency and continuing education as a whole. My boss/clinic manager is actually a graduate of EIM’s orthopaedic residency program, so he understands the journey I’m on, and has nothing but positive things to say about his own experience in residency and how it has shaped his clinical practice. Everyone at EIM has been great about answering questions and offering support, as well.

 


We’ll continue to follow Kristen along her residency journey, so check back soon for updates. In the meantime, feel free to share your own residency experience or questions in the comments below. You can also learn more about EIM’s residency programs here.

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