Inter-professional (IP) Observational Practicum Reflection

Due to physical disorders resulting from injury and diseases, patients experience disturbed function and impairment in the neurological, integumentary, and cardiopulmonary systems. Physical therapy is an appropriate treatment to alleviate pain and enhance physical functioning. Essentially, most people of all backgrounds need these services. A physical therapist specializes in the evaluation and treatment of the body through physical means. In the field, a physical therapist should demonstrate good communication and problem-solving skills. Also, they should be able to work rigorous physical activities and enjoy working with people outside office settings and in different environments (Goodman, Heick & Lazaro, 2017). The therapist has a bachelor’s degree in Doctor of Physical Therapy. Other certified training can also apply, according to CAPTE. Also, the therapist should be certified by the Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Summary of the Observation

            In the outpatient setting, which was my observational practicum area, the physical therapist interacted with numerous patients and co-workers to ensure extensive support. Based on her work requirement, she often consulted with the patients about their physical condition and symptoms. She intervened when a patient experienced a movement dysfunction and used the consultation to create a personalized treatment plan. Some of the patients needed therapeutic exercise techniques to obtain optimum impact, which she taught them. Physically, she assisted some of the patients that were using wheelchairs and walkers to walk. Also, she maintained patient records and tracked their progress while also advising on in-home treatment options.

IP Competencies

            Based on my observations, when a patient came into contact with these services, they could expect to receive a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and either long or short term plan of care. Also, they receive therapy treatment based on a therapist (Chimenti, Frey-Law & Sluka, 2018). Therefore, they have to undergo a physical exam and evaluation to determine their flexibility, muscle and joint motion, and performance. The therapist demonstrated a high work ethic by engaging the patients professionally yet friendly. Whenever a nutritionist was required to assess something, she ensured it is communicated before the start of their patient sessions. This provided smooth coordination of services across the board. She was friendly and a team player with multi-disciplinary team members that were involved in the caregiving processes.

Similarities and Differences Between Physical Therapist and Nursing

            One of the differences is that nurses work as part of an interprofessional team to monitor patient conditions. Physical therapists (PTs) diagnose movement restrictions and create treatment plans for functional abilities among patients. Nurses usually balance knowledge with compassion, depending on their patient backgrounds. Physical therapists, on the other hand, work with patients who have physical impairments and injuries.

            One similarity is that both nurses and physical therapists provide direct care to patients, and both should be team players to ensure that patients receive needed services. Also, both are required to have interpersonal skills to care for the patients effectively.

Lessons from this Experience

            In this practicum, I learned different ways of collaborations to deliver patient care. From seeing her conduct her work, I developed compassion for patients and empathy. As a  result, I would want to do more of such work. Collaboration between nursing and physical therapy would allow patients to feel cared for and understood. Nurses can consult with the patients to understand the full spectrum of their conditions, information that would help physical therapists curate their treatment plan more strategically.


            Therefore, physical therapists are essential health service professionals that play a significant role in physical wellbeing among patients. Practice in this field is fulfilling and dynamic due to the dynamics of the patients.



Chimenti, R. L., Frey-Law, L. A., & Sluka, K. A. (2018). A mechanism-based approach to physical therapist management of pain. Physical therapy98(5), 302-314.

Goodman, C. C., Heick, J., & Lazaro, R. T. (2017). Differential Diagnosis for Physical Therapists-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.