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Striving to Be a DPT

How to Prepare for Class in PT School

Published June 9, 2014 2:11 PM by Jocelyn Wallace

This week began my first week of full courses and I'm happy to say that, although I feel overwhelmed, my methods for class preparation seem to be working. Again, we are taking Physiology, Gross Anatomy, Introduction to Physical Therapy, and Clinical Anatomy for PTs. We're covering two to four chapters a week in both physiology and gross anatomy, one joint or region a week in clinical anatomy and tons of broad information in Intro to PT. I'm preparing for each class a little bit differently, but it all comes down to actively learning the material beforehand. Here are some techniques I use:

Compare the PowerPoint slides to the textbook. This is very similar to attending lecture and noting the added information the professor gives. I read the sections of the book that correspond to the PowerPoint, and then add both to a typed outline. This takes about an hour per chapter and, so far, I've gone to class feeling completely prepared and almost like I'm attending a review session. I write "unclear" anywhere that I cannot quickly grasp the material, "question" near any question I may have or possible exam question I think of and "clinical" next to any clinical applications I stumble across while reading. In class, I follow along my outline, actively engaged in the material, and add any notes the professor mentions that I don't have.

Watch cadaver videos. Before gross anatomy lab, I watch videos corresponding to the body section(s) we are covering that day. While I have a textbook, flashcards and an atlas, nothing works better (for me) than engaging in a video that includes narration. If you are in PT school, check with your library to find out if they offer any free series of anatomy videos.

Actually read the readings. This is something I desperately hope I can keep up! In Intro to PT, we have a reading or two each week and reading it is so helpful for my preparation in class. I do not take but a few notes or read very in-depth, but just getting a general overview is great. So far, I've felt very prepared in class from just these brief, 10-20 minute readings.

Practice in groups. I've already found a wonderful group of people to study with and, after studying on my own, nothing exposes my weaknesses better than talking it out with others and quizzing each other.

This whole process is taking me about three hours per day of Anatomy and Physiology, which we attend three days a week. That's about 9 hours. The first weekend hasn't happened but I plan on studying 4-6 hours each day. I haven't found my groove for reviewing the same material after class. Any suggestions for reviewing the material regularly, so I don't wind up cramming for exams, would be very helpful. My first exam is in about a week on the entire lower extremity.

Thanks for reading.

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I appreciate the helpful advice you have shared in this article. I am applying for medical school and I wanted to know more about how I should prepare for class. I know that it will be a lot hard work and it will take a lot of dedication, but I am ready to do what it takes. I liked what you said about actually doing the readings in working in groups. I learn best in groups so I think that will be very effective. Thanks again.


Chris Carlier January 16, 2015 11:04 AM

Hi Mary,

I had a bachelor's in Environmental Science when I decided to go to PT school. I had to return to school for a few prerequisites but DPT programs generally require a year of anatomy, chemistry, physics and various other courses, a bachelor's in any field and shadowing experience (~100 hours at a minimum is the norm).

I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Jocelyn Wallace June 10, 2014 2:47 PM

What schooling did you have before PT school? I'm curious because I write novels that focus on physical medicine and rehab. The best way for me to stay up-to-date on school requirements, technology and patient treatments is to ask someone who is going through the steps. I find your articles quite helpful. Thanks!

Mary King, writer June 9, 2014 6:26 PM
Milton FL

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