Skip to main content


Listen to an audio version of this column, voiced by the author.

The first experience I had as a physical therapist with the death of a patient wasn't in an adult hospital wing. I wasn't surrounded by patients in their eighth or ninth decades of life saying quiet, tearful, yet entirely expected farewells to family. It wasn't as a student, either. As a third-year PT student honing my clinical skills on the adult gastrointestinal surgery and colorectal cancer unit in a large prominent hospital, I was quietly ushered away from such cases when patients began these slippery and sometimes rapid declines. I was moved to a different unit or a different patient for the day. "You don't have to deal with that," they'd say dismissively.

No, I was in a children's hospital. How unfortunately ironic that so many of my clinical superiors and trusted mentors found it inappropriate to expose me to such grave realities during my years of study, perhaps brushing it off as "strategic protectiveness," but mere weeks later as a newly minted clinician, ink barely dry on my new employee badge, I now was expected to fully comprehend and effortlessly navigate the concept of a child's untimely death.

Log in or create a free account to keep reading.

Join APTA to get unlimited access to content.

You Might Also Like...


Online Event to Explore Report on Virtual MSK Care

Jun 10, 2024

Join us June 27 for a live online discussion on the recently released report confirming that virtual health technologies, when guided by a PT, deliver

Open Access

Improved Outcomes With PT-Guided Virtual MSK Care

Jun 5, 2024

The independent evaluation supports APTA’s position that digital physical therapy services only be performed or directed by licensed PTs.


PHTI's Report on Virtual Musculoskeletal Solutions Health Technology Assessment

Jun 5, 2024

The following statement was released today by American Physical Therapy Association President Roger Herr, PT, MPA.