Tag Archives: DPT

A Day in the Life of a PT Student

Hey everyone! I can’t believe how long it has been since my last blog post. Time around here seems to be a constant contradiction– it speeds by while also creeping slowly. Before I began PT school, I always wondered what the day-to-day schedule would be like. Would I have any time to enjoy my favorite Netflix shows? Would my mom wonder if I was still functioning? Well, I thought it would be nice to give you all a play-by-play! Call it a day in the life of a first-year PT student. (Let’s say it’s one of my ultra-productive, Wonder Woman kind of days).

The alarm clock blares at 6 a.m. and I jump out of bed, resisting the urge to hit snooze. Waking up early is absolutely not a requirement for PT school, but I always loved the feeling of being accomplished before noon. My early-bird roommate has already hit the brew button and the aroma of coffee fills the living room. After chugging a glass of creamer drenched coffee, I head to the gym with the hope that my eyes are open enough to see the treadmill. Working out at 6:30 a.m. isn’t easy, but once you’re in the routine it gets pretty addictive. An hour later and drenched in sweat, I race back home to prepare for the day.

Class begins at 9 a.m. every morning allowing me plenty of time to get everything prepped for school. I pack up my backpack, make my breakfast and lunch (on a good day), make my bed and lock up the house. Living in a house with two of my classmates a short 5-minute drive away from the Francis Center is the greatest. While I like to pretend that my ducks are always in a row, it doesn’t hurt to have two friends giving me gentle reminders about school commitments when I need them (thanks Lauren and Allison!!).

I settle in to my seat in the third row and open up the PowerPoint of the day. Depending on the day our schedule can change. Sometimes we have one class for three hours and sometimes the morning is split between multiple courses. The good news is that our professors give us 10 minute breaks every 50 minutes. While that doesn’t sound like much, it feels amazing to get up and stretch your legs after sitting. I mean, would we be future PTs if we didn’t encourage that kind of behavior?

Our lunch hour arrives at noon and we each spend it differently. Occasionally, I’ll have different meetings, discussing clinicals with Dr. Herbert or my research project with Dr. Johansson. Many of my classmates use their lunch hour to study for upcoming quizzes or exams. On a beautiful day (and a day that may have started with a late morning), I may take my lunch hour to go on a run around our beautiful campus. Whatever you choose to do, our lunch break is a time to reset before our afternoon begins. The third years had a fun tradition of holding a cookout in the yard every Friday and everyone was invited.

The afternoon alternates between more lecture and lab days. Our lab days are great because we get to take the skills we learn in the classroom and apply them in a real setting. Today, we spent the first half of the afternoon in the anatomy lab working on our lower leg dissections. This week was particularly exciting because we had a teach-and-share swap with the PA students. While the PA students share the Francis Center with us, these moments of interdisciplinary work open our eyes to many different perspectives in the health care world. It helps to simulate a real-world experience of collaborating with professionals from other areas. It is always incredible to see how we can learn the same topic from a novel point of view.

After anatomy lab, we head to our practical lab for PT Science III where we learn the proper techniques for muscle testing. Today, Dr. Johansson and Dr. Murphy instructed us in evaluating strength in many motions of the arms and legs. While physical therapy can vary depending on your diagnostic methods, Manual Muscle Testing (MMT) is unique in that it is conducted the same way in every clinic. It’s pretty cool to think that every person who has learned physical therapy in the U.S. has been taught exactly what we are learning now. This is just one step of our initiation into the community of physical therapy.

Our classes wrap up by 5 p.m. and I head back home. The rest of the night can vary depending on the upcoming days. Today, I spent the afternoon analyzing some data to submit our research study for a conference. Now, that may not sound like fun to some, but I am so excited for this opportunity. Although that was the primary focus today, data analysis and research studies are not always the highlight of the afternoons. Some days I come home and binge on “Jane the Virgin” – my latest Netflix obsession – before reviewing lecture material. Some days I immediately hit the books and waste no time preparing for the school assignments to come. Every night consists of some sort of work to keep up with school, and some nights are busier than others. The reality is that while this PT program can be intense and it’s important to keep up with the work, you also need to find ways to keep your sanity. Whether that’s cooking an incredible dinner, walking around the lake on campus, or watching reruns of “Friends” on TV, the things you enjoy are still an important part of PT school.

Around 10 p.m. I hit the hay because, as my mom would say, that’s when I turn into a pumpkin. If you’re someone who enjoys late nights and late morning wake up calls – do not fret! I have classmates who make that lifestyle work as well. The most important thing to know is PT school is like a full-time job, but just like a job you have time for your personal life as well. The chance to learn the material that you’re interested in and pursue your dream career is the constant motivational force that makes the 9 to 5 more bearable. And in just two and a half short years, my classmates and I will finally earn that DPT we are so excited for. That makes everything worth it!

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Being a Student

We’ve almost reached the dog days of summer, and that means that the class of 2016 is already about halfway through our second clinical rotation! For me personally, it’s been a great start to this rotation so far, and I’ve already learned a great deal in these three short weeks. At the same time though, I’ve also been reminded time and time again that there is a MAJOR difference between being a classroom student and a clinical student. For us PT students, being a classroom student means a full day of any combination of lecture and labs as well as a healthy dose of Facebook checking….errr I mean furious note taking! Being a classroom student also generally means a lot of time spent parked in a chair with breaks interspersed where one might eat a snack or leisurely toss the pigskin. So what then, does it look like to be a clinical student?? Well, for starters, the pace is about 100x faster, and there’s obviously less pigskin tossing. Also, whereas in class we have time to write down notes and think on them later, clinical learning often involves having to remember a lot of competing and varied information that has to be applied sometimes immediately. Treatment information has to be recalled quickly for note writing, mental checklists have to be run through, and good grief should I be concerned if my patient’s prothrombin time is high and she has a stat CT ordered (the answer to that question, coincidentally, is yes)??

Now, upon reading that description of clinical learning, you may be thinking “Gosh Luke, that sure does sound pretty crazy!” Well, while it can indeed be crazy at times, it’s also AWESOME. Don’t get me wrong, classroom learning is great and I truly do love book knowledge, but we all came to PT school to be PT’s after all, and our clinicals are where we’re starting to get a real taste of our passion for PT. Also, while I’d certainly have days where I came home exhausted from class, exhaustion has taken on a whole new meaning in a clinical world filled with long days of speed-walking down hospital corridors and rapid-fire learning. However, with that exhaustion comes an incredible sense of knowing that we as mere PT students probably had a bigger impact on someone’s day than we could possibly imagine. Thankful for this opportunity that we all have right now, and keep up the good work class of 2016!

Almost Halfway

May has been a good month.

We began our 3rd module after the break with both some of the new and the old.  We continued both anatomy and physiology but then started PT3 where we’re working on goniometry, ROM, muscle testing etc and then also are in a new clinical seminar class, human motor development, and biomechanics/ortho.

We’ve already had the chance to get into the clinic for some observation time and have an upcoming children lab to observe kids of all ages.  It has been awesome to get more time with patients and to see the theories from class actually in action.

In anatomy, our first dissection back was the brain and skull—incredible.  We’ve continued on to the gut, the thigh, and even observed some local PTs as they worked on the pelvic floor and told us a bit more about what is done in women’s health PT.

Last weekend, a few of us went up to the NCPTA Spring Conference to attend a seminar, “PT Role in Disaster Relief:  From Ground Zero to New Orleans and Haiti.“ Gina Epafino,  Nancy Malone and Betsy Murphy are all PTs who shared about their experiences in Haiti, and then Nancy Malone talked about the time she spend volunteering after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.   It was both humbling and inspiring to hear about the work that each has done.  I only hope I can be so influential eventually.  (If you’d like to see more, one of the websites is http://handsoflightinaction.org/.  If you’re interested, let me know and I can get more information from my notes).