Time Heals All Doubts

career dear pt students Mar 12, 2021

Dear PT Students,

 

“I don’t know the sport that well” 

“I don’t know any of the players and they don’t know me”

“I’m a foot shorter than all of them”

“Will I know what to do?”

“What if I can’t help them get better?”

“What if I’m not as good as their last PT?”

 

These are all thoughts in my first few days as the team PT for a collegiate volleyball team.  I didn’t feel like I was good enough and I worried if I would ever be.

 

I remember feeling all those things, but the feelings themselves seem like they are from another life.  I may not catch every double hit, but I know the sport now.  I know the players and they know me.  I love being their PT and getting to work with them.  I’m still shorter, but it never mattered.

 

All these thoughts were insecurities that faded with experience and time.  When you go out...

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Run Toward Something, Not Away From Something

Dear PT Students,

 

Run toward something, not away from something.

 

PT school can get old.  You’re not making money, you can’t take vacations like your friends, and the work does not end.  It is only natural to WANT it to end.

 

I don’t know any PT student that wanted to stay a student forever.  Many are counting down the practicals, the exams, and the days until they finally sign DPT after their name.

 

But, focusing on PT school ending makes you miss some really great opportunities while you are there.  Rather than trying to get away from PT school, start looking toward life as a PT.  Don’t try to run away from PT school, think of it as moving toward PT status.

I know it is only a slight difference.  Yet, looking forward to starting life as a PT is more likely to get you to volunteer at the school clinic to get more reps, can result in studying MSK for your future patient and not just for a grade, or may...

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If You Cannot get Buy In Then Knowledge and Skill Is Lost

Dear PT Students,

No one told me that it could be more effective to have multiple personalities when working with patients than it would be to have multiple treatment options. 

I do not mean that in a dysfunctional way, but rather in terms of relatability and communication.

When you finish PT school you want to know everything, take tons of continuing education, and have a million skills when it comes to treatment.  But all of that takes time, experience, and constant refinement.

There are an endless number of ways to get patients moving better and feeling better.  Yet if you cannot get buy in, then much of that knowledge and skill is lost.

Patient education is more than how you talk to patients and more than avoiding medical jargon.  It requires you to be the person your patient needs you to be.  Some patients will need to joke around, some will want to talk the entire session, some will need encouragement, some will need to be reigned in, some will want...

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You May Not Know the Possibilities to Your Future PT Self

dear pt students Feb 12, 2021

Dear PT Students,

 

You may not know what is possible for your future.  

 

We had residency interviews this past week and I was asked a question that really made me think.  “Did what you wanted for your career change from before residency vs. post residency?”

 

The question resonated with me because residency changed me quite a bit.  However, this isn’t a post about doing a residency.  This is a post about recognizing that your ideas and your dreams about your career may be unfinished.

 

I wanted to be a professor directly after residency because I knew I wanted to teach.  But it never occurred to me that I could teach continuing education and I never knew that could be even more appealing.

 

Think of your future career with the possibility that you haven’t been exposed to what you’re truly passionate about lately.  If you don’t know anyone in pro sports, you might not think it is...

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Being uncomfortable is the fastest way to grow

dear pt students Jan 23, 2021

Dear PT Students,
 
Oh, treatment Tuesdays. I haven’t thought about them in a long time, but they came up on my timeline.
 
While I was in school, every Tuesday Rutgers had a student and faculty run community clinic where patients could be seen on a pro bono basis.
 
We were required to do a few hours a semester. As a first year student, I dreaded going. I felt uncomfortable, not confident, and I didn’t stay a second more than necessary.
 
Then clinicals came around and I wished I had spent more time there and gotten more experience. I vowed I would go every Tuesday of my second year regardless of requirement. And I did.
 
The beginning still sucked. I felt out of place and was nervous I would do something wrong. But the more I showed up, the more I liked it. I started feeling more confident and could see my growth week to week. Practicals got easier. I got better and when my second clinical came around, I was a different student...
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New Semester, New You

dear pt students Jan 11, 2021

Dear PT Students,
 
During PT school, “New year, new me” wasn’t my go to saying. However, “New semester, new me,” was. At the beginning of each semester, I swore it would be different. I would study ahead, read more, keep track of deadlines better, get up earlier, and not constantly wish I started things earlier.
 
Those first two weeks of those semesters were always glorious. I was prepared and organized. And then after that first test or the first assignment the wheels would fall off and the semester would never be the same. Everything would go back to procrastination and “that’s due WHEN?!”
 
It wasn’t that I lacked motivation or that the novelty wore off. It is that I never put any systems in place. I swore things would be different, got organized, but then repeated the same pattern as the before. I had a plan for how to start the semester, but I didn’t have a plan for how I’d continue...
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Failing Does Not Mean Failure. What You Do Next Decides That.

dear pt students Nov 27, 2020
Dear PT Students,
 
The distribution of grades from our first anatomy exam was written on the board when we entered lecture. There was an overwhelming majority of A’s and only one person failed.
 
I sat there feeling bad for that one person. It was one thing when you failed a physics exam in undergrad that over half the class also failed, it was another thing to be the lowest grade by a substantial margin. And then we got the tests back...
 
I was the one. I failed my first exam of PT school. It was devastating, embarrassing, and made me question if I had what it took.
 
My confidence was shattered immediately and it was VERY disorienting. My success had always been linked to my identity and in the matter of one test I didn’t feel good enough.
I went to see the professor (as instructed on the top of the exam). She told me one thing that I still remind myself of often.
 
“Failing does not mean failure. What you do next...
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You are not alone feeling this way

dear pt students Nov 20, 2020
Dear PT Students,
 
“What non-musculosketal cause might you worry about if this was your patient?” the evaluator asked me.
 
Sitting in front of me was my practical patient that was complaining of neck pain. You know what questions feel like during a practical. You’re on edge and may not even feel 100% sure if the evaluator was asking your own name.
 
All that stood between me and being done with the practical was this single question. I was almost done. My brain was in panic mode though and my mind was blank. Here’s my thought process: Okay, neck pain red flags. Neck = Cervical spine. Red flags = almost always some sort of cancer.
 
“Cervical cancer.”
 
My patient laughed. The evaluator looked down trying to hide a smile. And I stood there completely oblivious.
 
As you finish your semester, your practicals, and your final exams remember that you know the answer. You’ve prepared, you’ve...
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You Don't Need To Be Perfect - Just Keep Getting Better

dear pt students Oct 09, 2020

Dear PT Students,

As a new grad, I was struggling with a patient and voiced my frustrations to a co-worker. She listened to me and then asked me the following three questions:

1. Are you using all the resources you have to help this patient?
2. Are you trying your absolute best?
3. Will you keep trying?

My answer to all three questions was “yes”, but this did nothing to calm the frustrations. And then she looked at me and gave me the one piece of advice that I still carry today:

“You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to keep getting better.”

Perfection is unrealistic. While we all want to be perfect, chasing perfection is bound to leave us feeling like we aren’t good enough, as it did for me with my patient.

Chasing improvement is where growth replaces the fear of failure. So, whether a difficult course, a tough patient case, or an experience that scares you, focus on getting better. And ask yourself:

Am I using all my resources, am I trying my...

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Stop Comparing Yourself

dear pt students Sep 25, 2020

Dear PT Students,
 
I sat in the car until the last possible second. I tried to talk myself up, I tried to think positively, and on this particular day I tried not to cry.
 
There were more days like this during my acute care rotation than I’d like to admit. I didn’t like the hospital, I was intimidated by the lines and tubes, and there wasn’t a single minute that I felt at ease walking through the CCU for the entire 12 weeks of my clinical.
 
The worst part though… many of my classmates were having great experiences. They loved going into their clinical and I was sitting in my car trying to get myself to walk into the building.
 
I started questioning if I was cut out for physical therapy. I kept worrying that I had made a mistake. And I wished for confidence that never came.
 
What kind of PT was I going to be if I hated my rotation while others raved about theirs?
 
As it turned out, I am an outpatient/sports PT...
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