Behind the Scenes at WPI: Insights from Clinical Rotations

We always say that the Wisconsin Performance Institute experience is different, but you don’t have to take our word for it.

We’ve been fortunate to have two physical-therapy students join the WPI team as part of their clinical rotations. Jordan Gaulke and Clay Schult spent several weeks with the team before moving on to their next rotations in Texas and Rochester, Minn., respectively.

Here are some of their impressions of what makes WPI such a special place.

What were your first impressions of WPI?

Jordan Gaulke: One of the first things I noticed was the family atmosphere. Everyone who walks through that front door is treated with the upmost respect and cared for as if they were family. The communication between patients and coworkers is always open and honest, which helps build strong relationships and creates a safe and comfortable place for patients and clinicians.

Clay Schult: I was very impressed with the detail that went into each patient’s plan of care, and how specifically they evaluated and treated each case.

What specific aspects of WPI’s physical-therapy clinical internship stood out to you?

Clay: What stood out to me was the Noraxon technology and the in-depth analysis of so much data around an athlete’s performance. I was intrigued with the quantity of specific exercises and movements the PTs used with patients. There was never a patient where I saw a “cookie-cutter” approach to their treatment plan. I was truly impressed with the amount of personalization to each patient’s needs and goals.

Jordan: The attention to detail that the staff uses when working with their patients. Every patient comes in with a unique situation, and the therapists here take the time to fully understand their goals and problems to ensure the best possible treatment.

How did the WPI internship contribute to your learning and professional development as a physical-therapy student?

Jordan: This clinical experience pushes you to think deeper and more critically about all aspects of care. In school you get a lot of information about how to do things, but this experience requires you to understand why to do things, and the impact it can have on the body and the patient. It also encourages you to think of the patient as a person and not just a diagnosis.

Clay: This internship gave me the opportunity to improve my clinical decision-making skills in a way that I haven’t experienced at any of my other clinical rotations. I learned so much more about the importance of research and how it can be applied to daily treatment easily and effectively.

Can you share an experience that illustrates WPI’s patient-centered approach?

Clay: I worked with a patient returning to playing soccer after an ACL reconstruction. Compared to other clinics I’ve been a part of, we tailored the treatment extremely well to the demands of their sport. I saw the patient-centered approach in the quick decisions to change exercises based on impairments found from previous exercises that day.

Jordan: We currently have multiple patients who had the same surgery and are at similar point in terms of the timeline of recovery. However, each patient has specific problems and goals to which they want to return to. We treat each of those individuals uniquely.

What mentorship and guidance did you receive from the WPI team?

Jordan: During my time at WPI, I’ve had the opportunity to treat patients and learn with a high-level physical therapist. I was allowed space to build my own treatment style while still having someone to fall back on and ask questions of.

Clay: I received mentoring on WPI’s ACL-PRO program and testing. I was amazed by the research, data, tests, and effort put into this by the staff, which showed me how much they truly care about the athletes they work with. I also received guidance on how to utilize the Noraxon technology with my diagnoses and treatment plans. The PTs did a fantastic job breaking down the data and technology in a way which I could understand and learn as quick as possible.

In what ways did the internship experience align with your expectations, and in what ways did it exceed your expectations?

Clay: What exceeded my expectations was the opportunities I had to discuss research and be asked questions about specific cases, and to think through how a research article can be applied to a patient I was working with.

Jordan: Coming into the experience, I expected to work primarily with high-school and college athletes. While we do work with plenty of athletes, we work with a lot of weekend warriors and active adults. This forced me to incorporate different goals and treatment styles in order to return those patients back to work, family life, and recreational activities.

How did the internship influence your career goals and aspirations?

Jordan: My passion has always been sports medicine and helping athletes return to their sports. This experience has only grown that passion. This experience has also showed me how much more there is for me to learn about utilizing research-driven care to maximize athletes’ potential and safety as they return to sport.

Clay: This clinical rotation has given me a goal of working in a place just like this one day. I’ve been influenced by the way treatment is tailored to a patient’s specific goals and expectations of future function, whether it’s returning to elite-level sport or going back to gardening outside.

Can you describe a memorable success story or patient outcome that you were involved in during your internship?

Clay: There was a patient with minimal range of motion in their knee. During treatment, they were doing their best to remain optimistic through the pain and struggling with their exercises. It was amazing to see how they persevered through treatment and how dedicated they were to getting back to what they loved. I was able to discharge them in my last week at WPI, and it was extremely rewarding to see their smile, knowing they had conquered physical therapy and recovered from their injury.

Jordan: We had a patient come in who had seen multiple physicians, surgeons, and PTs before us. Unfortunately, they did not have very good experiences with those healthcare professionals, which led them to have a difficult time buying into physical therapy. After a few visits with the staff at WPI they showed significant improvements and said this was one of the first times they felt the staff truly cared for them and empowered them during their healthcare journey.

If Clay and Jordan’s experiences make you want to know more about WPI, contact us for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. We’re here for you.