Initially, adapting to physical therapy school can be rough. You’ll spend a rigorous amount of time at your computer, in an attempt to grasp all of the information that is being rapidly thrown at you. It can be overwhelming, to say the least, but don’t get discouraged, because you're not alone.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned thus far in our DPT program is that the dynamic you form with your classmates has a profound effect on your ability to overcome the demands of professional school.
That support is extremely important, not only for your success as a student, but for your overall well-being. Obtain success through support in physical therapy school!
Time of Need
I never realized how much of an impact my classmates would have on me until I needed them the most. I became really sick during our last week before fall break. We had five exams that week, and the weekend before I was unable to concentrate because of how sick I felt. I tried studying the material, but nothing was sticking. I reached out to my classmates on Sunday night, worried that I wouldn't pass my upcoming exams. Soon after, I reached out and many of my classmates offered to help me. I was blown away by how many were willing to help, despite their own busy schedules. A classmate offered to meet with me very early to help with palpations while others took time out of their own studying to go over material that I didn’t understand. If I needed anything I only had to ask. Because of their support, I passed all of my exams and have less anxiety about tackling information for future exams.
Support in Physical Therapy School
My classmates and I help each other, no matter what the circumstance, which is amazing. We form study groups, stay late to help each other understand the material, and we're each other’s shoulder to lean on if things get tough. You'll struggle and have to teach yourself many things, but the camaraderie your class develops makes all the difference. You’ll find out who has knowledge in certain subjects, and you can exchange information; this helps both of you learn the variety of material that will be covered in PT school. It can be hard at first to ask for help, or get out of the habit of studying by yourself, but you should reach out to your classmates. Group studying got me through every exam, since I was able to discuss and synthesize the information with others.
A large percentage of my class is from out of state, and starting PT school without the nearby support of friends or family can be difficult. In just eight weeks, we formed a close bond with one another, which helped immensely with the fact that we were far from home and from our support systems. We spend a lot of time together. We're together for classes, meals, study time, weekends, and during times that we need to relieve stress. Some of the best parts about having many classmates is always having someone with whom to experience something new, and learning about their diverse backgrounds. So far my class and I have done a variety of things together. We've gone tailgating for the football team, explored the surrounding area, gone to the beach, tried new types of food, visited museums, bowling, amusement parks, game night, intramural sports and pancake breakfasts.
I have enjoyed every moment, even the bad ones, because it has allowed me to get to know my classmates better and develop meaningful relationships with them. I honestly hope that everyone in a current DPT class or someone who is applying has the same experience with their classmates that I have been fortunate to have. There have been many times that my stomach has hurt from laughing, and other times where I felt defeated, but had a classmate show me that mastering the material is possible.
Reach out and enjoy every minute with the people who are along on this ride with you. This isn’t a competition; we all want to see our classmates grow and succeed as professionals.
This week, my classmates and I will be participating in our White Coat Ceremony. We are excited to receive our white coats because we've worked hard to get to this point. The best part about the ceremony isn’t necessarily receiving our white coats – it’s receiving them together that makes the experience worthwhile. I have never been more proud to be part of such a deserving group of people.
Sometimes we get tangled up in the academic portion of school, but taking the time to enjoy each moment no matter how small and forming meaningful relationships is what makes things unforgettable.
The ability to go the extra mile for your classmates will and can translate to your life outside and beyond the classroom. Develop this skill now as many employers will find it an invaluable trait.
Have you had any experiences like this? If so we'd love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below!