Maternity Leave and Returning to Clinical Practice. The Home Stretch

The Home Stretch of The Modern Day Quest (Part 5)

With only three weeks to go until I return to clinical work from maternity leave, I’m really coming into the home stretch now. As I would have predicted, my quest to work through most of the Physioplus courses has not gone exactly to plan, although I certainly wouldn’t have predicted the reason for this – who would have?! At this stage, I expected to have completed a lot of courses specific to my area of practice as a way to refresh my memory so that I could hit the ground running on my first day back.

Instead, I have spent my (very little) free time doing the many COVID-19 related courses on Physioplus (five new courses went live in July). However, at this juncture, I’d say these will be vastly more helpful to me on that first day and week and month back at the clinic compared to the technical MSK ones I had been considering. This first day back certainly won’t be like coming back from my other two maternity leaves; I am expecting a very steep learning curve because of COVID!

Realistically, a lot of being a physiotherapist is like riding a bicycle; you don’t forget how to listen, to connect, to look for barriers and solutions. If you have those basics down, I’d say you’re OK to look up the occasional test protocol or cut-off score that you haven’t thought about for a year. COVID-19, though, is just so far removed from anything many of us have experienced, it makes the return to work so much much more daunting. On the one hand, I feel very fortunate to have been on leave when the world got turned upside down because I didn’t have to face the health, job and financial uncertainty that so many did. On the other hand, having some familiarity with the new normal by working these last few months, with the worst of the uncertainty  in the past, sounds pretty appealing to me while I sit in the calm before the storm (especially when me going back to the clinic coincides with my kids returning to school and day care…I’m really hoping things won’t be as stormy as I’m expecting!).

It is because of my own uncertainty that I found the COVID-19 courses so helpful. As someone who has been on the sideline throughout this pandemic so far, I found it really interesting to learn the breadth and depth of what people with COVID-19 might be experiencing, even if I won’t be dealing with any of the acute or sub-acute issues at my clinic (outpatient private practice). As well, learning about the persistent issues that have been reported such as fatigue, weakness, balance deficits and silent hypoxia was really helpful. I feel adequately prepared so that if I happened to see a patient in the rehabilitation phase of COVID-19 on that first day back, I have a good sense of what to ask, what to assess and what our initial treatment program might look like. This preparation goes a long way to increasing my confidence and reducing some of the uncertainty about this step I’m about to take. And as a huge bonus, I didn’t have to spend time searching for all the information myself! With so little free time with three kids at home, it is quite wonderful to reap the benefits of the work the team at Physiopedia has put in to finding and collating this information into one handy place. What’s more, I know I can go back and reference the information at any time through my computer or the handy Physiopedia app. Confidence ++.

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