Just like the first day of school, you want to be prepared for your first day of clinic. When I reflect on my first day, there are plenty of tips I would give myself. I was in clinic my second week of school, so I was seeing patients in clinic as I was learning what an audiogram was and audiological meaning of “Xs” and “Os”. My first day was memorable for all the wrong reasons: I didn’t know where I was supposed to be, wore pants there were far too tight, and was hungry most of the time. Even if you’ve spent time observing in a clinic, being a student clinician is an entirely different ball game. You’re on the other side in clinic now and there are certain expectations. Here are some tips to ensure you have successful first day of clinic.
1. Prepare for the day.
If possible, do a walk-through of the clinic beforehand to familiarize yourself with the layout (booths, consult rooms, hearing aid lab). You will be learning a lot as you go, but it’s important to have a general understanding of the clinic schedule and protocols. Read over the background of your clinic preceptors to gain an understanding of who they are. Also, have snacks that can sustain you through the day such as energy bars and water. If you have a soft voice like I do and are adjusting to projecting your voice, pack some throat spray. In terms of school supplies, some musts include a clipboard, notebook, pencils, and a highlighter.
2. Dress professionally but comfortably.
You’ll be sitting for long periods and getting up at moment’s notice often. Dress to impress but also prepared to run around. This includes comfortable shoes and having a hairstyle that allows you to easily put on and take off headphones. Also, check with your university clinic’s dress code and preceptors for specific requirements.
3. Come early.
Arrive at least a half hour to an hour before clinic starts to get situated and mentally prepare for the first day. This may seem early, but if you’re nervous, this will give you time to get comfortable and walk around clinic. Also, know what your schedule will be and when in doubt, ask!
4. Don’t take it too personally.
Part of the experience of a student clinician is getting feedback, which might not always be positive, but is meant to help you grow. I know for myself this took time to adjust to, but inevitably the goal is to turn you into a skilled audiologist. On my first day of class, a professor advised that we treat every day like a job interview. This is especially true in clinic. Just because you’re doing your best, doesn’t mean it is the best. Remember, pressure builds diamonds.
5. Be confident.
Yes, you are a student, but you’re also an audiologist in-training. The first day is when you start to develop the professional “presence” needed for patients to trust you. Use your “audiologist voice,” have good posture, and walk with the confidence that you can figure out whatever comes your way. You will definitely mess up a few times on your first day (no one is perfect). But remember that you were accepted into the program because experienced audiologists saw the great potential in you. Believe in yourself and be ready! Good luck!
Sueanne Phan is a first-year MBA student at Saint Mary’s. She served as a member of the SAA Communications Committee. Her audiology interests include cognitive hearing science, musicians and hearing loss, and teleaudiology.