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Journey of a DPT Student

Complaining -- Where Does It Get Us?

Published February 13, 2012 11:59 AM by Lauren Rosso

If you have read any of my recent posts, I'm sure you can figure out that I'm knee-deep in the middle of a pretty tough semester. So I'll preface this post by saying I recognize that I'm on edge, and probably have a pretty short fuse compared to normal. That being said, I have started to notice that different people handle stress in different ways, and some of them do so by complaining. To some degree, I can sympathize. (Realistically it's what I'm doing right now in this blog). But the more I hear people complain, the more I realize it's a useless coping mechanism.

Certain things are more complaint-worthy than others: like having our two hardest exams on the same day. I can understand that one, and if I'm being honest, I probably had a few things to say about it too. What bothers me is when classmates complain about the material we're covering in class, saying either that we'll never have to use it, or that they don't care about it. For whatever reason, it really gets under my skin.

Maybe it's because I'm partial to neuro, or maybe it's because I'm a huge nerd, but I feel like there's a certain amount of value to everything we learn. There were times when I felt the same way in the past. But as we move forward with our education and I realize the responsibilities that are going to be placed on us, I can't help but embrace a complete knowledge base. I sometimes feel like I'll never know enough.

In case I find myself on the other side of the fence in the future, I'm going to try to remember this post. I'm sure other people have their own pet peeves, but right now, this one seems to be the one that's sticking out the most.


I am usually a very bubbly happy-go-lucky person who, for the most part, is very positive and outgoing.  However, PT school has definitely brought out the worst in me.  There are days where I am so stressed that I would just call my mom and have a nervous breakdown.  And there were days where I was a Donny Downer and pessimistic about everything, spouting the very same words "Why do I need to know this?!"  and complaining about the workload, group projects, exams, and general drama.

Recently though, I've taken on a new motto.  I was on crutches for a month due to a foot injury.  I was so annoyed and complained a lot about the fatigue and the inconvenience, including the fact that I had to suspend my clinical until it healed.  A good friend told me, "don't worry, it's only temporary."  For some reason, that saying stuck and I began to use it for lots of challenges in my life.  I began to wonder that in 5 years from now, would ______  (whatever I am complaining about) matter?  No.  I noticed I don't complain as much now, and I've starting finding that chipper personality I had before PT school.    

In addition, now that I am 3 weeks to graduation and am preparing for the boards, I am starting to realize that maybe all those nights studying information that I never thought I needed to know are beginning to pay off because some of those very same topics are showing up on the practice exams.  Even though it is incredibly stressful thinking about the license exam, and it's a bummer because I'm going to spend most of my summer studying, I just have to say that in the long run "It's only temporary."  :)

Courtney Stearn April 12, 2012 4:04 PM
Greenville NC

As a DPT student that is about to graduate in May, I definately remember long nights in the library staring at my notes or working on tedious projects and papers, and grumbling about the amount of work while questioning its clinical relevancy.  After completing all of my clinicals, it is safe to say that yes, I needed every bit of that information and those assignments.  

One of the best examples I can recall is related to my adult therapeutic interventions class.  We had an overwhelming amount of assignments to complete including detailed treatment plans for patient case scenarios.  We all thought that it was an unrealistic assignment and that we would not be able to plan treatment sessions in that much detail for each patient in an actual clinic.  However, my next clinical affiliation was in an outpatient neuro setting, and on the very first day I used the thought process from that assignment to develop interventions for a patient.  I was able to immediately think of a task that was both creative and functional, which not only impressed my CI, but gained me credibility with the patient that I would be working with.

While our class assignments and exams may be more detailed than what is required in the clinic, it all serves the purpose of preparing us for treating real patients.   I know that when we are drowning in assignments it is easy to become overwhelmed and complain, but try to keep in mind that the professors who assign the coursework have practiced in the clinic, not to mention they have to grade those assignments so they would not give them to us if they were not teaching us clinically useful information.  Hope this provides some encouragement next time you are feeling overhwelmed!  

Brittanny, SDPT April 12, 2012 2:29 PM

Kim, I couldn't have said it better.  What it comes down to is being able  to understand as much as we can about what a patient is going through.  At one point, we'll have to apply all of this.  When that point comes, I would regret not learning this information.

Lauren Rosso February 16, 2012 6:50 PM
Pittsburgh PA

I feel the same way here in the last semester of PTA school.  We are learning some things that are a PT responsibility, or even higher up, prostetic company, but we need to understand the basics of what is happening with the patient.  But I hear a lot of complaining too.

I'm just trying to learn it, understand it, and get it done.

Kim L, SPTA February 16, 2012 1:47 PM
Sacramento CA

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