Luckily my first day as a telerehab therapist wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as any first day on a new assignment. It was the Friday at the end of my orientation & training. Originally, I was supposed to see two new patients for initial evaluations that I would then schedule onto my caseload. For my telerehab company, we oversee our own schedules, therefore, we schedule all the follow-up appointments once the initial evaluation is complete. Thankfully, my supervisor pre-reviewed the first two cases that were added to my caseload and decided to remove one. The first patient scheduled that afternoon was a vestibular patient. Phew! I am not the most comfortable with vestibular patients in the clinic. Can you imagine trying to figure out a vestibular evaluation via video conferencing? I was relieved to say the least.
My first patient was a cervicalgia who injured themselves while on the job. That should be fine. Let’s just hope there are no tech issues, no one rings the doorbell, and the dogs don’t bark I thought to myself! The patient arrives and I initiate the telehealth visit. Great, I can see and hear them! They can hear me, but they cannot see me! Oh no! I can use a computer, but technology trouble shooting isn’t my forte. I had checked my camera and microphone prior to the visit, so I have no clue what is going on. Luckily, the patient was more than gracious. However, it was a humbling experience for me. It was at this point that I learned the importance of effective verbal cueing. In telehealth, you don’t have the luxury of tactile cueing, and for this first patient, I didn’t have the luxury of visual cueing either!
Needless to say, I felt completely overwhelmed and called my supervisor immediately upon the completion of the evaluation. We set up a fake visit and everything worked out fine. It turned out to be on the patients’ end. Another lesson learned, technology isn’t perfect and not every patient will be great with technology either. This would be the first of many troubleshooting sessions for patients with technical difficulties.
At the end of the day, I felt relieved to have made it through my first telerehab evaluation and had a much better idea of what to expect during my first full week as a telerehab therapist. Oh, and a list of questions I needed to clarify before Monday!
Find out what happens in the next edition of my reflections as a telerehab therapist.