As we sat down to a celebratory dinner and closed out another year with 2 more PT resident graduates, I looked around the table and found myself caught up in reflecting on this past year and of all the years that preceded this moment. After spending many hours in 2006 writing the business case for a neuro PT residency and presenting it to interested stakeholders and administrators who controlled the purse strings, we hoped that the right person would be listening and that our hard work would pay off. Such was the case, and we welcomed our first residents in 2007 and became the third APTA credentialed PT neuro residency program in 2008.
Sitting at the dinner table for 12 were 2 of our former resident/graduates who passed their NCS exams and are now on faculty ~ one as a primary mentor and the other as a mentor-in-training. Both have made unique contributions that continue to grow our program and make it a strong competitor for some of the best and brightest PTs who want to specialize in neuro PT.
Self-reflection has been part of our program from the beginning and has become a mainstay and one of the strongest components in the eyes of the faculty and residents. It is the one sure way the faculty has of ‘getting inside the residents’ heads’ to really understand how they’re thinking and what they’re experiencing throughout the year. Just this year one of our residents wrote “I did not know that I was going to learn how to self-reflect [to gain] self-efficacy as a neuro therapist…in order to actually build self-efficacy there has to be some struggle or adversity to overcome…the residency was more than just working with the neuro population, but learning how to be a more evolved clinician as a whole.”
Earlier this year at CSM our program director and I introduced our 2 current residents to a former resident/graduate who is now the Academic Program Director of Creighton University’s Geriatric Residency. What a joy it was to listen in on this former graduate’s discussion with our residents. She is a consummate professional and excellent role model. The next day in the exhibit hall, I joined 2 other former resident/graduates who had received their NCS certification at the awards ceremony who were presenting a poster of the community service work they did while in our program. Their work was well received by academicians and clinicians alike, and they are now considering writing a paper for a peer reviewed journal. Another of our graduates, who had also received her NCS certification, was presenting a poster of work she has done at UOP since accepting a faculty position there. I was proud of all of them.
We have had 16 graduates since we started, and they are spread out across the country from New York to Nebraska to Washington State, from Minnesota to Southern California. I stay in touch with many of them ~ those who have married, become parents and send pictures of their growing families ~ those who have taken up the challenge of starting residencies in other locations ~ and those who have chosen to stay with Kaiser Permanente and become part of our program. As I have entered my semi-retired state, I am happy and confident in knowing that the field of neuro PT is in good hands because of all of these individuals who have committed a year of their lives to a residency that not only helps them to grow as professionals but also as individuals seeking self-reflection and continued growth throughout their lives and careers.