5 Ways to Prepare for Physical Therapy School (Post-Graduation)
by Lauren and Nadia
May 2, 2022
Congratulations to all of our undergraduate followers that have been accepted into Physical Therapy School and are graduating this month! You all can probably agree with the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” You have worked your tails off the last 4 years and now you can finally let your hair down to celebrate!
Oh, but wait..you start Physical Therapy (PT) school soon.
For many Pre-PT students, graduation is a bittersweet moment. You finally get to relax from homework, deadlines, group projects, and exams. Before you can finish shouting “I’m FREE…,” you realize the next chapter of your life is just around the corner. Yep, for some of you, you’ll start PT school as early as summer. For others, you may have the summer off and then you’ll kick into action in August. You may even be attending a PT school that delays their start date until next January. Regardless of when you are starting, we have 5 pro-tips to prepare for PT School.
- Don’t study ahead of time. We repeat, DO NOT STUDY AHEAD OF TIME. Let us give you a few days of your life back and tell you that we tried to do some prep prior to the first day. What a waste of time! We agree that nothing we read prior to our start dates prepared us for our first week of PT school. We don’t say this to scare you, only to help you have more time with your friends and family when you don’t have a syllabus, required reading, or test to study for. Just relax. Sleep-in a little. Take a nap. Go to the gym in the middle of the day. Travel. Say yes. Say no. Don’t try to formulate your own study plan before your first day. You’ll figure it out. You’ve made it this far! Now, if you do get an assignment prior to your first day (apologies in advance), please do what your professor tells you to do.
- Establish healthy habits now. Now is the time to get into a routine, not when the tough gets going. You want to start exercising and be more physically fit? Start now. You want to eat healthier now that you are off of the college cafeteria diet? Start now. You want to start saving money? Start now! Fill in the blank about what you want to start doing (please don’t fill in “binge on Netflix”) and start NOW! If you have time for some leisure reading check out “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. He breaks down what healthy habits are, how to establish habits, and how to maintain them when you life happens.
- Begin with the end in mind. Speaking of habits, we actually stole this one from Stephen Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Short term goals are VERY important, you’ll learn that over and over in physical therapy school. However, having a vision for your future is also important. Where do you see yourself when you graduate? What is your dream job? Life will happen these next 3 years. Your mind will change 100 times over while going through PT school. If you “begin with the end in mind” you won’t lose focus. Write your long term goals down this summer while you have time to think beyond your next test. You’ll look back at this and be thankful one day when you might be questioning your purpose.
- Get off of negative physical therapy forums. When you go to a restaurant and have an amazing experience, do you immediately get on Yelp and speak praises over your experience? Most people don’t (if you do, props--we should be praising good people and good experiences more often). Most people only want to elaborate about their most negative experiences. Please remember this if you haven't even started PT school and you are already worried about “burnout” and student debt. These are certainly concerns in our profession, but you don’t need to worry yourself about these things before you even get going. Remember, to “begin with the end in mind.” Remember why you wanted to go to PT school. Have a financial plan and stick to it. Get off of negative forums, NOW.
- Don’t go into it alone. During your time off (short or long), connect to your friends and family. Ask them to partner with you through this journey of getting your Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Enjoy every moment you have with them now. PT school isn’t prison, but it will be a major commitment on your end. Yes, you’ll make new friends. Yes, you’ll have breaks. Yes, you’ll get to go home and you’ll get to travel here and there. You’ll have some time to yourself too, but have a plan to stay connected to your loved ones who have been with you up to this point. Remind them to check on you if they don’t hear from you for a while. Even if it’s just a short phone call or text. You’ll need them.
Congratulations to all of you who are about to start PT school. Remember, YOU GOT THIS!