Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First day of Fieldwork - 10 tips

Before I go to bed, I want to share some brief tips with you on making your first day go along as smooth as possible:

1. Call your clinical instructor AT LEAST 2 weeks before your start date to introduce yourself.

2. Ask about appropriate attire and BE SPECIFIC. At one hospital and another pediatric site, I wore corduroy pants and both sites said it was fine. At a different hospital, the administrator had a HUGE problem with it and said corduroy's are actually jeans and are inappropriate. At some place, khaki's are okay and others they are not okay. So, ask specific questions.

3. Find out if your site requires a background check. They may ask you to pay for it and these things can be expensive so save your money and be prepared.

4. Your site may require vaccinations or titers. FIND OUT! Once you find out, DO IT immediately, assuming you don't object or have personal convictions against being vaccinated. Be sure you read the paperwork carefully. My current site requires tither/vaccinations against Rubella AND Rubeola, and YES, THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT FORMS OF MEASLES. Only after triple-checking and calling the site did I clarify they needed both. It would have been tragic to show up and be unprepared for this. These injections and titers can get expensive so if you feel comfortable, go to a clinic, it's generally cheaper. Or, if you're at a hospital, they can do it for you--this option may be more expensive but at least you'll know you'll have everything you need and it will be done correctly.

5. Your site may require a urine/drug test. Find out how many 'panels' they require. If they require a 9-10 panel test this is more expensive so be prepared.

6. Ask your CI if there is anything you can study to prepare for the upcoming weeks. Express how eager you are to start and how much you appreciate them taking you on.

7. Review the FIM and your Manual Muscle Testing grades! Many sites use these and it comes in handy to know it!

8. If you can, submit your paperwork, titer/vaccination paperwork early so you don't have to take care of all that on the first day. If you need an ID, see if you can come in early and complete that process.

9. Do a trial run to your site! Drive, walk, bike, take the bus, whatever your mode of transportation will be during your fieldwork, take the time to do it and time yourself. It will prevent you from being late, finding/paying for parking on the first day, or getting lost. Trust me, I do this and IT IS SO HELPFUL. I even go INSIDE the site and find the occupational therapy room. This way I know EXACTLY where I am going on the first day.

10. Go to bed early the night before and get up early enough to take your time and eat a good breakfast. Many sites have set times for lunch, which can easily be 4 hours from your arrival. You may not have time for snacks because you're so busy. If you ate a skimpy breakfast you will starve and this may affect your concentration and performance. I wake up 1.5 hours before I need to leave so I can do my hair, cook and eat a huge breakfast and take my time to get ready. I don't like feeling rushed before leaving out the door for fieldwork. Also, be sure to pack your bag with everything you need so that you can just zip the bag and go!

BONUS--When it's all over-- Send a thank-you card or buy a small, but useful, gift when your fieldwork is done. Remember, taking a student is a both a burden and a blessing. Be respectful of CIs and sites that agree to take you. I ALWAYS send thank-you cards. At one site, they needed clothing for their girls so my classmates and I got together and send clothes for about a month. One girl got her Old Navy co-workers to chip in and buy LOTS of Old Navy clothes. At another site, I noticed my CI was carrying everything in plastic bags so I bought her a sturdy plastic carrying case to make things easier (only $5) and I wrote a thank-you note for good measure. At another site, I wrote about 10 thank -you cards, one for EACH PERSON that took me under their wing, even if it was only for an hour. The point is, show your appreciation in a form that is NOT email. People will remember that and they will remember you.

Good luck!

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