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Journey of a DPT Student

Losing Motivation

Published October 1, 2012 2:19 PM by Lauren Rosso

Admitting this is something that makes me feel very guilty, but over the past month, I haven't been able to find motivation for anything related to physical therapy school. In general, I'm a person who has never had a problem with motivation or maintaining focus. In fact, I usually find it disrespectful when people do not put forward their best efforts. To suddenly find myself on this side of the fence is both discouraging and unsettling. From the time I started the program, I was so enthusiastic about everything that I was learning and eager to apply it whenever possible. Lately, that couldn't be less accurate. For whatever reason, I just can't find the motivation that I used to have.

I don't think it's a lack of interest in what I'm learning. I still find the material interesting and I can absolutely see how important it is. (Let's face it - at this point, just about everything we learn has obvious clinical relevance). But for some reason, once I'm out of class and away from the "learning" environment, I just don't want to look at it anymore. I don't want to do the additional readings, study, practice for practicals, or anything. What's worse is that I know how essential all of this information is, yet I still can't find the drive to put out a better effort. And I can't figure out why my attitude has changed! It's really frustrating.

I've done a lot of soul searching about this, and I think it's related in part to how exhausting the first year was. I really feel like I lost myself for a while there. I managed to keep up with some hobbies, but most of the time that came by sacrificing things like sleep, seeing family, and alone time. I think there was a breaking point, perhaps when I went abroad and felt like I got my life back, and I just can't force myself to go at that pace again. Irresponsibly, school seems to be the piece of the puzzle that is receiving the least attention. My non-academic life, on the other hand, is better than it has been in a long time.

My goal is to find a balance between physical therapy school and fun that still allows me to relax every now and then. What's most important is finding the motivation to be a better student. I know it's in there somewhere, it's just a matter of sparking it again!


Okay now you have me changing my mind! haha no just kidding, I want to actually know what to expect. I know it will be super hard so I'm pretty terrified! But your posts are seriously helpful, at least you are showing me that it can be fun too!

Abby October 12, 2012 10:10 PM

Abby- I picked PT school because I worked as an aide for two years at a neuro rehab hospital and absolutely fell in love with it.  I really enjoy working with people and with PT you have the opportunity to form great professional relationships with patients.   I love getting to know them and being able to help them.  The hardest part for me was last spring.  It was our first "neuro" semester and historically the worst of the program.  You'll quickly realize that the breadth of information is at times unbelievable.  I got very stressed because I knew that I needed to know and apply what I was learning, but I just couldn't fit any more information into my brain.  But I got through it and you will too!  It's hard, but it has to be.  I still love it though.  

Lauren Rosso October 11, 2012 11:04 PM

I'm glad to hear that! I know I've felt the burn out just in undergrad and a little encouragement goes a long way! I'm going to keep reading your posts, they're way more informational than most other things I've researched so far. :) I'm glad to hear you say you would pick PT all over again. What made you decide on PT to begin with? And what do you think has been the hardest part??


Abby October 10, 2012 9:16 PM

Eileen and Abby- thanks for responding.  I try to be honest in all of my posts, but this one was definitely the most heartfelt.   Eileen, I appreciate the encouragement.  You're right about the balance and I'm trying my best to find it.  And Abby, you probably don't realize it but  just hearing you say that you're considering PT school made me feel a lot better!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I'll do my best to answer.  If I were to go back and do it again, I'd absolutely still pick PT school.  Good luck!

Lauren Rosso October 10, 2012 7:52 PM

Hey Lauren!

I stumbled across your blog while doing some research on physical therapy as a career..I'm graduating from undergrad in December and physical therapy interests me so I'm trying to learn as much as I can about it. I have read several of your posts now and I have to say I love them! It's really cool to read experiences from an actual student. I'm terrified of how difficult PT school would actually be if I decided to pursue that, and reading real stories from a real person is great. I can definitely see how you would be experiencing some burn out at this point, but just know that you're posts are awesome, and they've inspired me to meet with an advisor for PT school. :) I hope that you're feeling a little better about PT school now, and good luck with the rest of this semester! :)


Abby Thompson October 10, 2012 1:38 PM
Chattanooga TN

Hi Lauren,

I've read your past posts and you have been working hard consistently for over a year, with very little down time. It's burnout. It's been a while, but i remember the first year is much more grueling academically. Don't be so hard on yourself. Enjoy a little down time (responsibly) and you will rejuvenate more quickly. Try to maintain a little more balance as you move forward.


Eileen O'Connell October 4, 2012 4:27 PM
Oaklyn NJ

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