A day in the life of a physiotherapist on an orthopaedic ward

Following is a guest blog post by Charlotte Ganderton, a former physiotherapy graduate at Peninsula Health. Charlotte has recently completed her grad year and has returned to La Trobe University to complete her PhD. Peninsula Health has expanded the Mornington Centre, and are taking applications for 60 new jobs in health care.

“A typical day in the sub-acute orthopaedic setting begins at 8.00am with our first meeting at 8.05am to discuss the day’s arrangements – new patients, staff members absent, staff cover for the hydrotherapy pool, meeting times, staff supervision sessions and professional development or in-services if applicable.

8.15am: Allied Health and Nursing staff morning handover – a fabulous opportunity to find out the progress of each patient within a multi-disciplinary team environment.

8.30am: The Physiotherapy and Allied Health Assistant staff collect patients suitable for hydrotherapy from their rooms and porter them to the hydrotherapy pool for rehabilitation.

10.00am: Patients are returned to their rooms for showering.

10.00am-12.00pm: Patient’s receive land-based physiotherapy programs tailored to the specific needs of each individual in a gym environment. The caseload is extremely varied and may include patients post elective joint replacement (knee or hip), post traumatic incidents resulting in fracture and general deconditioning secondary to falls, respiratory illness or cancer.

Interventions may involve gait re-training; exercises to increase strength or range of movement of upper and lower limbs; improve static and dynamic balance to reduce the likelihood of falls; improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

12.00pm: The patients enjoy a freshly cooked warm meal whilst the Physio’s get stuck into paperwork!

12.30pm: The Physiotherapy and Allied Health Assistant staff finally sit down for a well deserved lunch!

1.00pm: We are back on the run either usually completing one of the following tasks –
i.    Attending a rehabilitation team meeting that runs one to two times per week.
ii.    Continuing to see rehabilitation inpatients in the physiotherapy gym.
iii.    Seeing the afternoon patient arrivals for a mobility assessment and gait aid/equipment prescription to ensure the immediate safety of both the patient and the nursing staff, until a full physiotherapy assessment is undertaken the following day.


iv.    Completing MORE paperwork! This may include general medical note taking, patient weekly summaries, discharge summaries, referrals to inpatient or outpatient services.

4.00pm: We clean up odds and ends from a busy day’s work, check our emails and complete our patient statistics which involves recording the patients seen during the day onto a health-network-wide computer program.

4.30pm: The day ends for most…but I jump in my car and head off to teach Pilates, help out at the local football club, attend a professional development event, have dinner with friends or head home to watch a good episode of Packed to the Rafters!”

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