I truly believe that my professionalism traits have progressed since I entered physical therapy school. Professionalism has always been important to me. I had a chance to practice some professional skills before coming to NSU. While at Purdue I held many leadership positions. I was also in Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, where I learned leadership, friendship, and service skills.
I believe the fact that I had some of these professionalism traits helped me when I came to PT school. One important part of professionalism is your professional image. There are different things that fall under this category. The way you portray yourself is one of these things. Since I started PT school, I have always felt that professional dress is important. Even though we are allowed to wear scrubs to school, I feel that it is important to uphold the professional image by wearing professional dress. Granted, it may not be as comfortable, but it is important to set a standard. The only time that I wear scrubs is when we are in clinic, and that is only because we were told that was the dress code for our clinic site. I have also learned that it is important to take this dress code even further than the 4 walls of our school. Whenever I am doing something that has to do with the profession of physical therapy, I uphold that professional image. The way you act also falls under the category of image. I have found that it is very important to always act professionally. First of all, you never know who you are coming into contact with. It is always in your best interest to act professionally. I try to be kind and polite to everyone I meet. This could be seen through my interactions with faculty, staff, and other students.
I have also progressed in my ability to give and receive feedback. When I first started this program, I gave feedback when it was requested of me. Soon I realized that it was beneficial to give feedback when it wasn't requested. I know that I enjoy getting feedback from people, so I started giving feedback whenever I could. As long as your feedback is honest and constructive, most people are willing to accept it. Everyone can benefit from feedback. It came to the point where I used the feedback that I received to identify my strengths, weaknesses, and goals and make changes within myself.
I feel that it is very important to attend FPTA/APTA events. I have attended all meetings required by the school. I have even gone to meetings not required. I went to an extra SE district meeting and have gone to an extra FPTA conference. Unfortunately, all APTA conferences were not at good times; they usually fell right before exams. After I graduate, I will definitely start going to them. Going to these conferences is a great way to learn. There are always good speakers/topics available. The conference is also a great opportunity to practice networking skills. I have met some very nice people at the conferences. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to see one gentleman (a school teacher/retired PT) that I met at the FPTA conference in Orlando again at the conference in St. Pete. We remembered each other, and it seemed like our conversation started in St. Pete exactly where it left off in Orlando.
I think that one of my biggest progressions was seen through the pro-bono and other philanthropic activities that I participated in. As mentioned earlier, being a brother of Alpha Phi Omega helped me tremendously. I've always been dependable and willing to help when asked. This was seen through all of the activities that I participated in. I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to help people. As time went on, I started to go beyond the "call of duty." It was no longer enough for me to just show up to these activities. I wanted to be more involved. Making signs was one way of becoming involved. The biggest progression of all was when Ms. Blackinton trusted me enough to let me help her with the career day that she was in charge of. This was a great opportunity for me. I was able to see something through from beginning to end. I was able to project a professional image while actively promoting the profession of physical therapy to different age students as well as teachers of the school. Actively participating in an event like this is so much more rewarding than just showing up to help at an event.
Finally, by taking over the role of fundraising chair, I was able to improve my leadership skills. I believe that I am a much better leader now then when I first started PT school, even though I had leadership training before starting PT school. The experience that I received from being the fundraising chair only made my leadership traits stronger. I need to be able to get a whole class of people excited about raising money for the class. A difficult job, but I enjoyed doing it.
Professionalism is very important in any profession. However, in physical therapy you are dealing with the public every day. You are constantly providing a service. It is very important to uphold that professional image at all times and to remember that we are in a service profession.