Close Server: KOPWWW05 | Not logged in

Welcome to Health Care POV | sign in | join
Striving to Be a DPT

What Should I Do Before Starting PT School?

Published May 27, 2014 1:34 PM by Jocelyn Wallace

The question of what one should do before starting physical therapy school is one I heard often among my peers throughout the application process. Should you study all the muscles and their innervations and insertions? Or should you travel the world? I had three weeks in between finishing my prerequisites and starting my program and, with just a few days left, my epic plans to learn every single muscle in the body have not come to fruition.

What have I done before starting physical therapy school? Most importantly, I started a Twitter account. There's a rich and vibrant community of physical therapists, physical therapy students and physical therapist assistants on Twitter and I've already built relationships that I anticipate will help me immensely as I go through the next three years.

I also dabbled in various free online courses but stuck to video lectures and activities that I was sincerely interested in. I reviewed medical terminology because my class will have a test on it during the first few weeks. I familiarized myself with the APTA and all the resources it has to offer. Finally, I watched a lot of "TED Talks" and other similar videos about healthcare. My favorite has been one titled "How Do We Heal Medicine?" by a physician named Atul Gawande. I found it to be a beautiful synopsis of why I'm going into healthcare and plan on referring back to it whenever I feel like throwing my flashcards in a fire.

Enough of the boring stuff, what else have I done? The important things, of course! I've spent a ton of time at the beach and pool. I've slept in late and stayed out all night and I've gone shopping for perfect summer outfits. I will just have to wait and see if my lack of anatomy cramming hurts me in my first semester. For now, I suggest using your free time to the fullest. You may never get it again.

I'll report back after school starts and let you all know if I'm eating my words.

You Might Also Like...

School of Life

Widener University pro bono student clinic has become an influential model nationwide.


Hey Jocelyn,

I wonder if you looked back now, how you would answer this question after completing one full year of PT school.  I am a current 3rd year PT student about to graduate in a few short days and am still finding it hard to believe that this journey toward my DPT is almost over. I've found that in the moment sometimes it feels like its going by slow, but looking back I'm amazed at how the time flew.

To speak to your original topic, I feel that I greatly benefited from taking a year off from school prior to PT school. I wasn't exactly sure if I wanted to head in a nutrition or physical therapy direction but also felt like it was time for a break from school and time to just work for awhile. I didn't get a glamorous job, but I feel I learned some valuable skills during my hours serving in a restaurant that year - multi-tasking, client interactions, and comfort talking with people I don't know at all.  These skills are directly translatable to the practice of PT and patient/client interactions.

Secondly, I was proud to be able to afford to pay my first semester (summer) of public school graduate tuition with money I saved from that job. It taught me valuable financial and budgetary lessons which will directly help me after graduating PT school and entering into loan repayment.  Lastly, I think it provided me a better perspective and appreciation for my free time during PT school. Some students may say what free time, but I think there is a subtle freedom in being a student regarding schedule flexibility and fluctuations. Once we become PTs many of our work schedules will become more rigid limiting the time we have to ourselves during the day. As a student, sometimes classes end early providing random extra time in your day to be productive, do some errands, or take a nap, which just don't exist in the PT workforce. I've noticed that during semesters on campus I typically get outside to see the sunlight more compared to during clinicals. I am better able to appreciate these small benefits of being a student since I had a break from school mode.

I wish you all the best and good luck in your next 2 years!


Lauren , SPT April 29, 2015 12:20 AM
Greenville NC

leave a comment

To prevent comment spam, please type the code you see below into the code field before submitting your comment. If you cannot read the numbers in the image, reload the page to generate a new one.

Enter the security code below: