My Biggest Takeaways from Physical Therapy School
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
I finally made it to #FreshPT status! It was a long, intense 3 years, but I made it! At this point, I thought I'd share my biggest takeaways from the journey that is physical therapy school in hopes that it will ease the minds of current physical therapy students.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This was a tough pill for me to swallow, and I'm not convinced that I'm totally okay with it now, but I'm working on it. We are constantly put in uncomfortable situations in both our classes and our clinicals, but this is what makes us better!
- The more you know, the more you don't know. The amount of information that is thrown at us in 3 years is daunting, at best. The more I felt that I learned about a subject, the more I felt like there is still so much more to find out about it. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "when you get to the point where you feel like you know everything, then you've got a problem."
- You won't know everything by the time you graduate. And I might add, you will forget things and have to go back and study them again. With the amount of information that we are required to learn, we will forget things, but that's okay, we're human. We're in this profession for lifelong learning, so if you think that you'll be done studying when you graduate, you may want to choose a different career path.
- If it doesn't challenge you, it definitely won't change you. I learned this on my last rotation. It was definitely very challenging, and as much as I complained about how hard it was, I am much better off for completing it. How can we grow our skills if we are not challenged in our thought process? The answer is: we can't. I encourage you to seek out tough clinical rotations to make you a better clinician by the time you graduate.
- Don't be afraid to talk to top-notch clinicians. They aren't as scary as you think. Through my position with the AAOMPT student SIG, I was able to chat with some excellent therapists from all over the country and they are very willing to talk with students. But don't think that you have to be in a leadership position to talk to these folks. I've also reached out to clinicians who I want to learn from, and they are more than willing to connect with students who are eager to learn. Last, I'm part of an amazing mentorship group where I am able to connect with several seasoned PTs, Fresh PTs, and students. Can't say enough good things about #PTMasterminds!
- "The patient doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care." I cannot stress enough that soft skills are essential in building a therapeutic alliance with a patient. Use your communication skills to your advantage because you could be the smartest therapist on the planet, but if you can't communicate with your patient, then that knowledge is useless.
Hope this helps you along in your physical therapy journey! I'll leave you with a few inspirational quotes that I referenced in the speech that I gave at my hooding ceremony, both are by Steve Prefontaine:
"Success isn’t about how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started."
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
Aimee Depelteau, PT, DPT, is a #FreshPT who graduated from physical therapy school at East Tennessee State University. She completed her undergraduate coursework in rehabilitation science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She currently is pursuing a position in either an orthopedic or sports residency program. She is co-owner/operator of www.fitnerdphysios.com and was previously AAOMPT student SIG web administrator. You can follow her on Twitter @depelteauDPT.