3 Must Do’s In Your Patient Assessment

Posted By: Andy Barker

You do not need me to tell you how important your patient assessment is.

The assessment is at the start for a very good reason…

As it informs everything else you do after that.

It gives you your diagnosis…

Helps inform your patient prognosis…

And tells you what treatments and rehab to prescribe your patient.

Even as an inexperienced physio and even with complex cases, you should always be able to identify a probable cause of your patients symptoms after your subjective assessment.

Next you can use your objective assessment to prove or disprove this.

The subjective assessment is so important.

I’d go as far as saying it is probably the most important part of what you do as a therapist, because everything else you do after this is reliant on a good subjective assessment.

But it is something that so many new grad physio’s struggle with.

So to help you out here are 3 tips to help you nail your subjective assessment.

#1 Know Your Questions

The best thing about your subjective assessment is that it is preplanned.

You should know what questions you are going to ask your patient before they even walk in the room.

There might be some subtle changes depending upon the patient in front of you and their injury…

But 95% of your subjective assessment could, and should, be the same…

Regardless of your patients problem. 

Having a clear structure to your assessment gives you the confidence and clarity you need.

Knowing what questions you are going to ask stops that feeling that you making it up as you go along, mumbling through your assessment…

Sounding unclear and unconfident in front of your patient. 

Having a structured subjective assessment ensures you are ready for any patient that walks through your clinic door, regardless of what injury they have…

And gives you the confidence you need to deliver a sound and effective subjective assessment.

#2 Don’t Rush

A big error new grads make is trying to do too much in the first session.

By everything I mean, the subjective and objective assessments, hands-on treatment work and rehab all in that initial appointment.

This is not true.

The key to a great assessment is ensuring you get the right information from your patient.

This is true for both the subjective and objective assessments.

The aim of your initial assessment is 3 fold…


  1. Identify the patient diagnosis
  2. Identify the patients’s problems i.e. loss of ROM or strength
  3. Identify the patients end goal and devise a treatment plan to achieve this

That’s it!

All the above are unrelated, in the sense you can do any of the them irrespective of the other.

So even if you are not 100% clear on a diagnosis, you can still identify the patients problems and their end goal.

The key thing here is that you do not rush.

The subjective assessment helps inform your objective assessment…

And from there everything else you do, including your hands-on work and the rehab your prescribe.

So, make sure you get the right information before you progress.

#3 Don’t Be Afraid To Ask It Again

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck…

Then it’s probably a duck.

In the same way, if your patients story does not make sense, then it is probably not a true reflection of what is actually going on.

If you ask your patient a question and the answer just does not sound right, you might need to ask it again.

You might need to change the way this question is asked the second time around but do not just move on.

Your patient might have just misunderstood what you asked.

Don’t move on until you are happy you have all the information you.

Contrary to what many new grads think the key to success and getting great patient results, even as a young and inexperienced therapist, it not some shiny treatment or rehab technique or an overhaul of your subjective and objective assessment…

But doing the simple things well.

Whether it is your subjective assessment, special testing, the hands-on techniques you use or the rehab exercises you prescribe, the key to any successful treatment plan is your application.

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you cannot apply it in the real world with a patient in front of you then you are always going to struggle.

Want to see how to put together a simple, structured and clinically reasoned assessment?

Learn how to link your subjective and objective assessments together easily so you look and feel confident in front of your patients?

And discover how to take the information you get from your assessments so you know exactly what to focus on first with your patients treatments and rehab?

Then head here.


The New Grad Physio Mentor

PS. You are probably already doing 80% of this stuff already…

But the key is fully understanding what you are already doing (clinical reasoning).

Then add in few new questions and tests and your ability to find the right patient diagnosis, prognosis and your confidence in being able to explain your assessment findings to your patient will skyrocket.

Want to learn more?

Then click here right now