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Journey of a DPT Student

Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture

Published February 6, 2012 4:50 PM by Lauren Rosso

It's official -- we're in "that semester." The one we've heard about since entering the program, and despite having some forewarning that it would be terrible, I don't think any of us realized how bad it was going to get. I know it's nothing new. Anyone who has ever been in PT school can relate to what we're dealing with right now. With 21 credits that include neuroscience and musculoskeletal, it's nearly impossible to keep up with the overwhelming amount of work. The worst part is that, as luck would have it, all of our exam schedules seem to be synchronized. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very good at studying for more than one big exam at a time, which is really not helpful this semester.

The most disheartening thing is that in the midst of all the stress and confusion, I feel like I'm losing sight of the bigger picture. I find myself questioning why I even came to PT school. No matter what anyone tells you, it's hard to see past all of the late nights, unexpectedly difficult tests and phone calls from friends wondering where you've been. I resent that just two months ago, I was so certain that I was in the right place, and also was certain that I would be successful. Lately, I've started to question all of that.

I think one of the other problems is that I have always felt confident in my academic abilities. Even when challenging concepts have been presented in the past, I have always managed to find a way to learn and understand the information. Now, faced with neuro, I feel like I could finally be defeated.


I give you a lot of credit for posting this. I have also been frustrated at times - especially because it all goes by so fast and I have found myself missing the things I used to do.  What has helped me was reminding myself why I wanted to do this in the first place.  At times I have felt bad because I don't have a great memory and it takes me longer to absorb things. Even so, once I get the information I don't lose it. I pushed myself like I've never pushed myself before. Physical therapy is the hardest thing I've ever done but I'm doing it.

Dana Pedersen May 3, 2012 1:59 PM

I can relate to your entry about losing sight of the bigger picture while in PT school. I have experienced many challenges throughout my tenure in school, and one I was most apprehensive about was the course load.

I’m a non-traditional student by definition. I graduated some years ago, held a full-time job, am currently married, and have two children. I decided to change my career from being a high/middle school music teacher to physical therapist. Yikes, what a jump! But I took that leap of faith, and pursued a difficult road with many obstacles to overcome. One of the most difficult challenges I faced during this process was how best to manage my time.

Learning to manage your time efficiently does not come naturally, it takes practice. Prioritizing is the most critical part of it all. Write it down, make lists, develop goals and modify them as necessary. Does any of that sound familiar? If not, it will become familiar to you because they are the same tools needed to develop a plan of care for your patients. Once you start checking items off of yours lists, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and you’ll once again see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Since you have a strong history of good academic performance, you can rest assured that you will continue to do well.  It is not merely by coincidence that you have 21 credits of very dense course work to manage. This is your opportunity to develop time management skills, and to become more proficient at identifying main concepts and important details. Not only are you learning subject matter that is foundational for the profession, but also the tools to become a great therapist.

Ryan Bolena April 6, 2012 9:15 AM
New Bern NC

Hey!  As Jane said, you're def. not alone.  I remember before my first two comprehensive exams (over the entire YEAR(s)), I literally was looking at other jobs/majors on my laptop (after shedding a few tears of stress).  I passed, some classmates didn't, but they did on the retakes.  I'm on my last internships now, and I still have good and bad days where I know I made the right choice/wonder if I made the right choice.  I know in the end, PT will be a great career that combines my interests of medicine with the feel-good of helping people's quality of life.  It will be what we make of it.  Everyone gets through if they want to, even the classes they don't like.

AND hey, if I wrong, others have switched careers.  But I know it's a great choice for me for now.

Tasha Parman February 11, 2012 10:32 PM

Jane-  as always, thank you.  That was a much needed mental boost.

Lauren Rosso February 6, 2012 8:57 PM

The fact that you admit your losing sight of the big picture means you still realize there is a bigger picture. That's something. And, you aren't alone. Almost everyone who has gone through PT school felt the same way you are feeling. I say almost because I had two people in my class who had photographic memories and made MENSA members look stupid. They didn't have to study. They were super sweet, too, which only made it worse :-) Yes, we all hated them. At least for that one 21-credit semester! My dad talked me into staying. I was literally ready to pack and go home. But I made it, and so will you.

Jane Goude February 6, 2012 7:21 PM

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