My first month of PT School
When I was at BYU-Idaho I took a full class load every semester to try to finish school quickly. It was a heavy workload but I still had a lot of time to play. I was on a soccer team with some friends. I had a part-time job. I would rarely find myself studying late into the night. I got good grades, received scholarships, and breezed through school.
When I took my prerequisites for PT school, the workload got immensely harder. It became harder to coast. The subjective nature of the communication degree allowed me to complete assignments, turn them in, and get good grades easily. There weren’t necessarily right answers as much as there was the desire to communicate your answer clearly. You can’t do that in a chemistry class. Either the answer is right or it isn’t. I found myself up late studying, memorizing, and watching YouTube videos to understand the material so I could get good grades and get into PT school.
I have had to completely change my perspective on school now that I am in graduate school. First, the workload is way more than I have ever experienced. But more on that later. Second, the classes I am taking aren’t there to see if I am good enough to get into a program or to complete a requirement. The classes are there to teach me how to be a good Physical Therapist. I’m not memorizing the nerve pathways to pass a test. I am learning them so I can understand why someone has weakness or paralysis and how I can help them. And third, grades don’t matter. That has become a mantra in my life. My whole life grades have been the reward, the standard, the reason to try hard in school. You need to get good grades so you can get into college, you need to get good grades so you can get a scholarship, you need to get good grades so you can graduate, you need to get good grades so you can get into PT school. Now…get 75% or better. But, more importantly, learn the material. Understand it so you can help your patients. This concept is so weird, yet awesome.
This semester, all of my lectures and class discussions are online, because of COVID. The lectures are recorded so you can watch them ahead of time. Class is held over zoom. This is an opportunity to ask questions and get clarification on the lecture that we watched. All labs are on campus.
So here is my schedule this semester: (feel free to skip this. I just wanted to document it.)
4:00 AM: Wake up
4:30 AM: Go for a 3-mile run
5:00 AM: Clock in and work on videos for Ultradent
7:00 AM: Clock out and get started on breakfast for the kids
8:00 AM: Shower and get ready for school
8:30 AM-5:00 PM School.
Monday: 8:30 Study, 2:00 PM Patient Safety and handling, 3:00 Study, 5:00 finish studying.
Tuesday: 8:30 Pathophysiology, 10:00 Anatomy Lecture, 11:00 drop off kids at my mom’s house so Chanae can have a day to work. 12:30 Anatomy Lab, 4:00 pick up girls from my mom’s house. 5:00 Study
Wednesday: 8:30 Pathophysiology, 9:45 Professional Practice, 11:30 Study, 5:00 finish studying.
Thursday: 8:30 Pathophysiology, 10:00 Anatomy Lecture, 11:30 drive to campus for Anatomy Lab.12:30 Anatomy Lab, 3:30 Study group on campus, 5:00 Arrive home.
Friday: 8:00 Study, 1:00 Study group, 4:45 swimming with the girls.
Saturday: 4:00 AM 10-mile run. 7:00–8:00 AM study. Rest of day, mow the lawn, run errands, 1:00 online study group.)
Monday — Friday: 7:00 PM clock in and work on videos for Ultradent.
9:00 PM Clock out, go to bed.
My first day of the anatomy lecture was terrifying. The teacher was talking about stuff from my prerequisite classes and I couldn’t remember any of it. The whole class was answering questions and seemed to be following along really well but I was completely lost. After class, I watched the pre-recorded lecture for that day. It turns out I had missed an email saying that we should watch that video before coming to class. In the video, he covered all the terminology and did a review of what we had learned in our prerequisite classes. That was the reason I felt lost. It made me feel a lot better.
I’m treating this program as a full-time job. If you have a full-time job, there are minimal requirements that need to be met to not be fired. You need to fulfill your assignments, meet your deadlines, put in your hours, etc. My theory is if I am working on school work for 8+ hours every day, I should be able to meet the minimum threshold of 75% and not be fired/dropped from the program.
I took my first set of exams. This is how it went in my mind.
“I’m going to fail. I need to study more. I don’t understand everything. I need more time to study. I’m probably the only one who is dealing with this. Ok, I think I am understanding this better. Trust the system, just relax and trust that you have worked hard and studied. Unless I didn’t study enough. What if I didn’t study enough? I’m going to fail…”
This went on and on, sometimes out loud to Chanae, or my parents. Sometimes just in my head. It turned out that I did study enough. I passed all my exams. But now I can’t dump all the info to make room for more like I did before. I have to remember it because everything is going to keep building on this knowledge.
This feels like it has been longer than a month. I have made a lot of friends. I have multiple study groups. I am loving all of the knowledge and learning that I get to experience. And this is just the beginning.
I’ll try to keep posting updates on how things are going. But if it is anything like the first month has been, it will be a lot of work, an emotional rollercoaster, but immensely satisfying and fulfilling.