Happy Holidays, folks!
The DPT Class of 2017’s much needed week-long Thanksgiving Break has come to an end. After nearly 16 weeks of the Ortho Module, the break was much needed to reenergize the class for a busy two weeks before Christmas Break! It is hard to believe that in only two weeks we will be able to call ourselves “second years.” Yay!
As my class becomes second year students, a new class will be coming in January! As I reflect on this busy year, here are some tips that I have for incoming Elon DPT students, or any DPT student I suppose! NOTE: These are much easier said than done.
- Find YOUR best way to study – Everyone studies differently. Some people prefer to study alone, while others prefer to study in groups. Some study best at the Francis Center, while others thrive in busy coffee shops, or at home. Some classmates will study for an exam for two hours, while some will study 20 hours. Whether you rewrite the material, talk it out or type up study guides, find the way you learn best and be content with it. Don’t let others judge you for how you study best, because everyone is different. You do you!
- Get to know your classmates and professors – You spend a lot of time with these people, so make the most of it! Everyone in our class comes from different backgrounds and it has been lovely getting to know everyone. All the professors at Elon are pretty unique too. They all have awesome nerdy quirks about them, which makes them so likable! Lately on Fridays at lunch, our class has been tailgating by the parking lot. People have been bringing food, a grill, and lawn games and we have been having a great time together outdoors. Dr. Freund even brought out her volleyball net!
- Pace yourself and stay ahead – The classes are difficult and move at a rapid pace. They are manageable if you stay on top of the material and don’t cram until the night before. I remember in undergrad when I could cram the night before and feel comfortable going into a test. Those days are gone. Stay on top of things as best as you can, especially during the second half of your first year when Ortho starts in August! You can do it!
- Thoroughly enjoy breaks – During your first year at Elon there are seven full weeks of break. Seven full weeks! One for spring break, two for summer, one for Thanksgiving, and three for Christmas. There are also some periodic long weekends. That’s a generous number of breaks! Enjoy that time with family and friends doing fun things.
- Make time to do things you enjoy – Even if it isn’t during a break, enjoy fun things! Call or Facetime friends and family, workout, pop on some Netflix, bake, cook, hike, rock climb, kayak, go for a walk or run, or get a manicure or pedicure. The options are endless. Make time in your schedule to do fun things.
- Stop complaining – I have definitely learned this the hard way. Complaining doesn’t really get you anywhere; it just buries you into a deeper hole of unproductivity. Stay positive and optimistic even when you don’t think you can do it anymore. Listen to Nike, “just do it!” This is much easier said than done!
- Stay healthy – It’s alright to have your go-to study snack *ahem* Sour Patch Kids *ahem*, but make time to stay active and eat well.
- Forget about your grades – Remember that time when it seemed easy to get an “A”? It isn’t as easy as it used to be. It is tempting to check Moodle frequently to see if you are staying at an “A” average, but having those expectations is detrimental to your mental health. The professors are challenging, and are already prepping you for the licensure exam. Try your best, but don’t expect an easy “A.”
- Share your study guides – Study guides are great way to review material and you can definitely help classmates out by sharing them via Facebook or email. You are not competing with your classmates anymore, so help a brother or sister out!
- Practice what you learn in lab – Be sure to practice different patient scenarios so that you are ready for the clinic. Knowing all the information from the book is one thing. You have to be able to put it all together in the clinic if you want to have the best patient outcomes!
- Research opportunities are what you make of them – Students must participate in a research project during their first year with a faculty member. While some enjoy research, for others it’s not really their thing. Many groups will be taking their research to different conferences, while some will be done with their research experience after their first year. Doing research can be time-consuming and frustrating because a lot of times things don’t go the way you intend, but that’s research! Think critically and make the most of it.
If I could sum up everything I just said I would say that PT school is all about balance. Treat PT school like a job, and don’t let it consume you. Stay healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.
I hope that these tips don’t scare you, but instead help you prepare for the busy and fun year ahead of you! I have to tell you that I’m guilty of not following my own tips during my first year. They are a lot harder to follow than what you think. Hopefully I’ll follow them a little better during my second year, and you can get it right the first time.
Good luck, first years! Welcome to the Elon family!