I’ve officially made it through my first year of PT school! The last year has been full of firsts. I graduated from Penn State with my Bachelor’s Degree and moved a little closer to home to start grad school at Slippery Rock. I dissected my first (and hopefully last!) cadaver, took my first clinically relevant course, and was assigned to my first two clinical rotations! After the busiest and fastest year of my life, here are some of the things I’ve learned:
Do extra credit!
This doesn’t come by often, but when it does, believe me you’ll be glad to have the extra few points. It could end up bumping you up from a B to an A, or it could just give you the cushion you need during finals week when you have to prioritize your studies.
Save your notes.
Go to Target, Staples, Walmart, etc and get yourself a nice file box with hanging folders for each class. I store all of my lecture notes and handouts from each course in it’s own specific folder after each exam so that I have it for future reference. As much as you may want to burn your notes after a particularly difficult course, certain concepts come back in the future and it is important to stay sharp for the boards. I found this adorable Nate Berkus box at Target for under $20!
Make time for things that make you happy.
Life can become monotonous in such an intense program and if you don’t make time for yourself, you’ll go crazy. Spend some time with friends, read a book, go for a run, bake something delicious, or watch a movie to take a break from all the non-stop schoolwork. My friends and I are big fans of Friday wine nights after a long day of cadaver dissection to unwind before a busy weekend of studying.
I also try to spend as much time with family as possible during my time off. Last weekend, my mom’s side of the family reunited in Virginia Beach for a few days. With my three brothers living out of state and all of our insane schedules, we are lucky to get all four kids (and both parents) together at once! We visited the Naval Base, did some shopping, and hit the beach!
Your mom has told you a hundred times to eat your fruits and veggies and take your vitamins, and like always, she’s right. The busy lifestyle of a doctorate student can do a number on the immune system. It’s so easy to grab some fast food, skip your morning workout, and drink more coffee than water. Not to mention, the sedentary lifestyle of being in class and the library 12 hours a day with all the germs a college campus can breed doesn’t help. Take a multivitamin every day, stay active, and eat healthy! Read my post about healthy meal-prepping here.
I’m a very schedule-oriented person, so planning out my days in my planner helps me to stay on task. I’ll make time for my workouts, down time, and library time each day so that I don’t get behind on anything. Anyone else love that sheer satisfaction of crossing something off your to-do list??
I found my current planner at TJ Maxx last summer, but I love The Happy Planner (shown below) from Me and My Big Ideas. They’re a little bit pricey at around $30 each, but they are perfect for organizing all aspects of life! You can even buy extensions for home/fitness/budgeting (yuck)/wedding/recipes-you name it!
Form a relationship with your professors.
Our professors are our greatest resource for our future careers in physical therapy. Not only are they experts in the subject they teach, but most of them have practiced or are still currently practicing PT. Their wealth of knowledge in the field is instrumental in our learning, and professors are right at our fingertips willing to help us in any way they can. Participating in class or attending a professor’s office hours are easy ways to get to know them better and demonstrate your passion for the field. Having a good relationship with your teachers will make learning more enjoyable and will make you more comfortable to ask for help if need be. Additionally, it is a vital networking opportunity that could open many doors professionally.
These are just some of the many lessons I have learned in my whirlwind first year of PT school. After a great week of much need R&R with my family, school starts back up for the summer tomorrow and I am ready to give it my all!
Keep on Dreaming,