How To Prepare For Fieldwork In Hand Therapy Clinic - Hand Therapy Secrets

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How To Prepare For Fieldwork In Hand Therapy Clinic

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Hey there! If you’re a new grad, or even a student in occupational therapy school about to do your internship, this blog is for you. As an Occupational Therapy Student, getting to do fieldwork is both exciting and scary at the same time. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you feel more prepared for your fieldwork, especially if you’re interested in hand therapy.

My name is Hoang from Hand Therapy Secrets, and I just want to help you be more prepared when you go to your fieldwork, especially if you go into one doing hand therapy.

Mindset is Key

The atmosphere can feel intimidating, especially when entering a new field. You might wonder, “How scary was it coming in here? Do you have a bad reputation?” But let me assure you, a challenging learning environment (and yes, I can be tough!) is a good thing. Hand therapy might be portrayed as overwhelmingly difficult in school, but it’s truly not! The biggest hurdle is your own mindset. Don’t get caught up in negative self-talk. When you ask about the ideal approach, it all boils down to this: think of it as fun, not hard. A positive attitude makes a world of difference. If you convince yourself it’s difficult, you’ll create unnecessary stress and hinder your learning.

When you asked about the best mindset to have, the most important thing is to think of it as fun, not hard. If you think it’s hard, you’ll make it harder for yourself and get even more nervous.

Expectations for New Students

As a student coming in, you’re not expected to know everything. And I think a lot of times people get nervous because they think that they’re expected to know something. I would say you’re expected to know the basics. I’ve taught at the university level, and you are expected to have some amount of knowledge as it pertains to using a goniometer, for instance. I don’t care what shape, what size, it’s the same thing. You should know how to use a goniometer, and if you don’t, you should practice a little bit before you start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be the way your CI (Clinical Instructor) does it, you just have to have a certain understanding of it. I usually say “a goniometer is key”. 

Be familiar with some very simple things that I know you’ve practiced at the university level, this includes being familiar with using a goniometer, dynamometer, pinch gauge, and performing sensibility testing. Your CI will guide you further and show you their preferred methods.

The most important thing for new students is to come in with a learning mindset. Nobody likes someone who’s lazy and doesn’t want to learn. If you’re going to be in a specialty place, do some research! Look up the company website or social media presence to get a feel for the environment.

How to Get Comfortable with the Goniometer

Practice! Get a goniometer and practice on real people (with their permission, of course) – pretend they have problems and then measure their range of motion.

Tips for Learning Hand Anatomy

The great thing about learning anatomy is that you have your own hands as a reference! Use your textbook and resources from school, like your manual muscle testing book. You don’t necessarily need to know everything in-depth, especially for specific areas like the brachial plexus, unless you’ll be working in a place that focuses on those types of injuries.

However, you should know the basics about common injuries, like distal radius fractures.

Dealing with Nervousness and Building Confidence

What are some tips that I have to deal with nervousness? What do I recommend for you to be confident? First of all: stop telling yourself stories that you’re not good enough. Stop being mean to yourself!

Confidence comes from knowing you have the ability to learn. True confidence develops as you experience success. Take some credit for getting into OT school and passing your classes – that’s a great start! You can tell yourself: “Well dang, I got into OT school and I passed a couple of my classes!” That alone should give you a certain amount of confidence. Believe in yourself and your knowledge. 

Surround yourself with positive people and avoid those who bring you down. Focus on your successes, no matter how small.

Finding Success in Your Internship

Human nature makes us dwell on our mistakes. Instead, focus on what you did well! Even if things weren’t perfect, you survived and learned something valuable. The most important thing is to ask yourself, “Did I learn something from that?” If you learned something that will help you improve your next interaction with a patient, then that’s a success! 

We talked about cases where you might not have felt successful because a patient didn’t listen, didn’t follow directions very well, or was still in pain. But, being brave enough to ask questions about how to better approach a case, for example: “What can I do to think through this case better to pick better activities?”. This is a success in itself.

Watch the full YouTube video:

The Importance of Internships

You’re not there to know everything. The most important thing that you could do for yourself in an internship is to learn as much as possible. Internships are all about learning. Everything you learn will carry over to your next internship and future career. By the time you’re done with internships and pass your boards, you’ll have a wealth of experience to draw from when applying for jobs.

You’ll be able to confidently say that you know how to evaluate and treat patients in different settings, even if the specific documentation and techniques vary slightly. The core of evaluation remains the same – figuring out what happened to the patient, how it’s affecting them, and creating a plan to help them achieve their goals.


These are some key things to remember as you navigate your OT internships. By the time you graduate, you’ll be able to confidently say, “I know how to do this job! I have the skills and experience to be successful!”

So if you learn how to evaluate in a hand therapy setting and you go to acute care, or opposite, you’re from acute care and you go into a hand therapy setting, you’re still doing this evaluation, which is to find out what happened, and then, figure out what you can do to help this person. Achieve whatever the goal is, and you create a plan. That’s an evaluation in a nutshell. 

Start your path toward Hand Therapy Excellence with Hand Therapy Secrets

Ready to elevate your occupational therapy career with a specialization in hand therapy?

This program is perfect for Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Assistants, and Physical Therapists seeking to become Certified Hand Therapists (CHT).

Hoang Tran, a seasoned hand therapy professional, will be your guide. Imagine having a mentor who understands the journey to becoming a CHT. Hoang will share invaluable wisdom and personalized advice to help you overcome challenges and seize opportunities.

The Hand Therapy Mentorship Program is more than just a course. It’s a supportive community of like-minded individuals passionate about hand therapy. Unlock a world of guidance, insights, and expertise to propel your career to new heights.

Looking to earn your certification in hand therapy? We’ll show you how! Head over to this link to learn more about becoming a Certified Hand Therapist.

Not quite ready for the CHT exam but want to develop your skills? Our Hand Therapy Mentorship program will help you hone your critical thinking, hands-on skills, and propel your career in this rewarding specialty. Visit our website and join us on this transformative journey to become an exceptional hand therapist!

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Hoang Tran

“I help Occupational Therapists develop their skills and grow their confidence in Hand Therapy. No matter where you are on your journey, build a happy and fulfilling career of your dreams. I’ll help you.”