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Striving to Be a DPT

Coping Mechanisms for PT School

Published June 2, 2014 3:59 PM by Jocelyn Wallace

My course load in the first semester includes Physiology, Anatomy, Clinical Anatomy for Physical Therapists, and Introduction to Physical Therapy. Luckily, we didn't have to cover all of these last week as our first four days were primarily orientation. The only course we have actually attended is Intro to PT, but I've somehow managed to become overwhelmed either way.

Some of the things we've covered during orientation include learning styles, time management, study techniques, and the demands of graduate school. In short, I am scared. The faculty stressed the fact that physical therapy school will be intense because of the pace and the nature of a cumulative curriculum. As one professor put it, "every piece of information we learn will come up again someday." Not to mention gross anatomy is an eight-week course! This intensity is what concerns me the most.

Not everything I've learned has been in class, however. I've had to learn an all new campus, find the closest coffee shop, figure out where the power outlets are and learn professors' names. I've also learned the faces of my 54 classmates. The names, not so much. Needless to say, it has been a very disorienting week.

So how do I plan on coping? To start, I've put together a very detailed schedule outlining most of the hours in each day including class and study time but also gym time, eating and even blogging for ADVANCE. Further, we evaluated our learning styles and I took the time to really consider that information. I've realized I'm an auditory learner, and plan to study accordingly. If your physical therapy school doesn't go over learning styles, I suggest you research it independently!

Despite embracing time management and learning techniques, I think my most important coping mechanism will be my classmates. They have already been a shoulder to lean on during this first week and I can't wait to see each other through the next three years! It's going to be tough but I trust that we'll have some fun along the way.

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Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I will certainly refer to them in the future when the going gets rough. So far, everything you said has been displayed by the amazing people I have met. I've yet to meet a PT who was unhappy with their career choice!

Jocelyn Wallace June 4, 2014 9:03 AM


Loved your post and your honesty about feeling overwhelmed in your first week of PT school!  I feel your pain!  We have all been there, so please know that you are not alone!  I have been a PT for 30 years and I am presently enrolled in my tDPT & I am in the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy Fellowship Program!  You have chosen a great, dynamic, and exciting profession that will give you a life-long stimulating career!  You are surrounded by intelligent, caring instructors, wonderful group of fellow students, and supportive family!  As you lean in to learn...when it gets rough don't forget to lean on the people in your support groups!  Physical Therapy school is rigorous & demanding but all 54 of you can do this and your instructors are there to lead you toward a very dynamic, exciting, and fulfilling career in Physical Therapy.  

Victoria Galante, Physical Therapist - Director of Physical Therapy, STI Physical Therapy June 3, 2014 9:19 PM
Phoenix AZ

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