Reflections on the First Year of PT School

Low back pain? Hip or knee pain? How about your ankle or foot?  We can help with that.  Your shoulder and elbow will have to wait a few more days.  Over the past weeks we have been in intense training for examining, diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems in the back, neck and lower extremity.  Just recently we began examining the shoulder.  At the beginning of each “body part” it is a bit overwhelming.  Finding the muscles and bony landmarks in your lab partner can get frustrating, getting the “feel” for joint movement can be extremely foreign, and staying focused after seven hours of lab can be quite the challenge. But with the patience of the instructors and classmates, I find that over time the foreign quickly becomes the norm. It is a great feeling of accomplishment to look back at all the material learned. At times it seems like baby steps but when looking back over the months, huge gains have been made in becoming a well-rounded physical therapist.

This month the focus is on the upper extremity (shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand).  On the side we continue to dapple in pharmacology and spend time on our research projects. Three classmates and I created a research project that we thought interesting and applicable to physical therapy (Kinesiotape & Plantar Fasciitis).  Other classmates joined professors in their on-going research.  It has been a great opportunity to explore personal interests, meet people from the community who are willing to participate, and become aware of the need for research in effective physical therapy practice.  To avoid sugar-coating the truth, there is a side of research that ages us all.  Some projects can take a large amount of time out of each week.  The process of developing a project, getting the project passed by the board, and then following through can be time-consuming and mentally exhausting. But I would expect nothing less being at a doctoral level.   Once again, it is a step forward in becoming a DPT.
Giving back to the community is placed in high regards to myself and to many of my classmates. On the weeknights and weekends, we have found ways to apply what we have learned. Some classmates are assisting individuals within the community in following exercise programs at home, helping individuals with their daily/nightly needs, and volunteering for the Special Olympics Funfitness.  We continue to support each other in marathons, half-marathons, triathlon training, going out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant (I think our waiters cringe when 32 of us enter regularly), coffee addictions, retail therapy and of course with our studies.   An escape to the North Carolina outdoors has continued to be an amazing benefit to this geographic location.  Hikes to Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain are typical weekend adventures. Even Asheville, NC isn’t too far away for more mountainous scenery.  The fall colors are beautiful. As fall continues we get closer to the end of being in the classroom, closer to Thanksgiving break, closer to Christmas, and closer to beginningour second year in the program!

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