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Toni Talks about PT Today

Back in the Lab Again

Published February 27, 2008 4:28 PM by Toni Patt

I spent last weekend in Dallas. I had to go there for a lab for my online class. Three one day labs are required. This was the first. It was also my first venture into onsite graduate education. My first class was 100 percent online. All the lectures were downloaded. I completed assignments and submitted them electronically. I never met anyone fact to face. Even though I was doing school work it didn't feel like school.  Working at my computer with my parrot on my shoulder just doesn't feel like school. Being in the classroom and sitting at a desk felt like school.

The most exciting part of the agenda was a visit to the anatomy lab. Since this is a cardiology course we looked at hearts and related structures. The first thing I realized when I looked at those things was how much I've forgotten. The second thing I realized was how much I've learned since I took gross anatomy. I learned more from that hour in the anatomy lab than I would have gotten from hours of lecture and textbooks. There's nothing like seeing to understand. When I looked this time I knew what I was looking at.

My memories of gross anatomy are of struggling to identify structures while memorizing origins, insertions and actions. I might have looked at something else but I wouldn't have remembered it. My entire focus was on learning the anatomy and passing tests. I didn't have time for added significance. This time I knew the anatomy. Instead of focusing on what I considered why and how. I know the aorta carries oxygenated blood. I'd forgotten how large it is. I know what a AAA is. Now I know where it occurs. I had the opportunity to feel calcification in an artery. Now I know the mechanism by which it causes problems.

This got me to thinking. What would happen if I were able to retake PT school? Would I learn all kinds of new things that I missed the first time? I know I would ask different questions. I wonder how much I missed as I struggled to put a whole lot of information into my head in a seemingly short time. Would I be a different therapist now? I'm certainly a better student. Of course one class a semester is a little different than a full course load. Back then I dreaded exams. Now I look forward to them to as a chance to use my mind.

At lunch the four of us sat around talking about school. We all felt the same way. We are in school now because we want the knowledge. We want to do the work. We're all about the same age so that might slant our opinions. That doesn't mean it isn't something to think about. I work with two therapists who have about 4 years experience each. Both have master's degrees. One is adamant about never returning to school. The other expects to in a few years. Compare that to people almost 20 years older having a similar conversation at lunch. It makes me wonder.

Right now I'm enjoying myself.  I'm working on a certification in geriatrics which only requires 4 classes almost all of which are 100 percent online. I might feel differently if I was looking at a 30+ hour curriculum or actually had to go to school. I've also been out of school more years than I want to admit. That might make a difference. Right now I'm learning things I can use immediately. That's what is important.

*** Anyone interested in the geriatric certification should go to http://www.twu.edu/. Go to the school of PT and follow the prompts.

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