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Life as a Physical Therapy Student

Maryann and I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Lindsay. Lindsay is a dedicated and driven student who did not give up on her long time vision of becoming a physical therapist. Although she is amidst her journey now we know that she will succeed. Going through schooling to become a PT can seem long and challenging, but when you have the right mind set, it is worth it.

Going along our with our "guest blog" posts, here is a little snippet of Lindsay's story!

"The one burning question I always had throughout my undergraduate education was, what is PT school like? What is it like to be a physical therapy student? And if I had a dollar for every time someone told me it was going to be hard, I probably would be able to pay off my loans by now. Sure, taking seven classes at a time at a graduate level isn’t easy but it’s definitely possible.

The first big difficulty to PT school lies in just getting accepted. Good grades, observation hours, and volunteer work are all just parts of what gets a prospect in the door of an admission’s office, all while trying to stand out amongst thousands of other people who have the same story. For some, like myself, it takes 2 years of working and constantly taking classes to improve their applications before their graduate journey can begin. I never would have thought that after college, I would move back home with my parents and work in an outpatient clinic for my two “gap” years, but I am incredibly grateful. I learned more actually being in a clinic and learning from professionals than I ever had in undergrad, and I encourage anyone trying to get in to school to do the same. What I learned from the physical therapists I worked for has carried me throughout my graduate education so far as a physical therapy student and has developed a facet of patient care that schools don’t really teach. No one teaches you how to empathize with patients or network with other professionals until you’re in the field and this trait is a valuable one. Anyone can get a high GPA if they work hard enough and many clinics are willing to let students observe, but that empathetic character gets exemplified in interviews which makes a person stand out and be accepted to a program.

Every so often my family calls me to see how I’m doing and my response is the same, “I’m good…tired, but good”. It reminds me of when my mom would meet my brother and I from the bus stop and ask us how our day was, at which we always replied “boring!”. In PT school, I’ve gotten really used to feeling tired all the time and being able to push through that because I know this is what I want to do with my life (which is very satisfying). Classes are long, roughly 2-4 hours per class, but there are enough breaks and activities that manage to keep my attention for the entire class period which never happened in undergrad. I spend most of my afternoons and evenings going over what was taught that day or completing assignments and quizzes due that week. The work never ends and there’s always something on my to-do list. I study with a close group of friends that challenges me to think differently while helping me to focus on the material we need to know. I am not sure how anyone studies by themselves during school because everyone picks up different pieces of information during lecture and sometimes that missing piece is the most important. We always make time to eat, whether it’s buying something quick or warming up food we meal prepped two days ago, and we always goof off just a little. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that you need to take time to relax and get away from studying.

School and being a physical therapy student will consume you....And it should consume you because this is your future, and this is a commitment, but school doesn’t have to take away all your other joys. It takes discipline and time management to get through school without being overwhelmed all the time. Anyone can get through it if they find these two qualities within themselves, or find other people who bring it out for them. A doctorate degree is definitely as hard as everyone told me, but I found that taking it day by day or week by week made it much more manageable and attainable. I never thought I was capable of studying this much or learning this much so quickly but it’s possible and I really love what I learn."

To learn more about a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant career check out this information from the American Physical Therapy Association.

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