It might not seem like it right now, but we are not the first people for whom everything has not gone to plan. I understand that not everyone is in the same position; some, like myself, are graduating on time while others may be delayed one semester or even more.
Something to remember though
A pandemic isn’t the only reason SPTs have ever had delayed graduation and/or licensure. Even within my own class, I know those who have ended up a semester (or even a year) behind: whether due to extenuating circumstances leading to an inability to complete a prior rotation, or pregnancy and giving birth leading to an inability to complete the semester! While these are different situations than our current one, they are still a change of plans; these students have had to overcome a challenge and remain focused on the overall goal of becoming a physical therapist, whenever that time comes.
For myself and many others, this week is a flood of different emotions:
from joy at reaching this goal of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy and being finished with school to sadness at the loss of a formal celebration and recognition of that hard-earned honor.
Just last night, my classmates and faculty had to celebrate our graduation party (and the retirement of one of our favorite instructors) on Zoom. So yes, we Fresh PTs from the class of ’20 might be sad that we didn’t get these things, but the good news is: that’s not why I went through all this stress and struggle.
“I didn’t work so hard to become a PT for a commencement ceremony, or for a graduation party; I did it because of the joy and fulfillment I get from treating and helping patients.”
It might be harder in the meantime to secure that first job or get a dream position immediately because of COVID-related hiring freezes, furloughs, or layoffs, but at some point in the future the rehab world will return to a state of normalcy. When that time comes, we will all be able to do exactly what we went through the rigors of PT school for: treat patients, make them feel heard, make them feel better, teach them how to improve their own function, and make that human connection with them day in and day out.
In the meantime, we can polish up our resumes, draft exceptional cover letters, and engage in a little extra digestion of research or perhaps pursue certifications to get that upper hand once the job market opens up again.
While I may be bummed right now, I am looking ahead to the light at the end of the tunnel. To put a more positive spin on the thought that ‘people will always hurt themselves’, how about ‘people will always need us’; let’s find a way to stay excited for when that time comes.