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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Clinical Experience

Hard to believe it has been over a year since I've put anything down here. Was never really sure how much anyone would care about this blog, but judging from the amount of page views this blog gets, there's a lot of people out there curious about what it takes to become a physical therapist. Seems most of my views come from people looking for application help, so for those of you out there filling out your PTCAS and want some input, shoot me an email or drop a comment. I'm more than willing to answer your questions or give you some feedback.

So here I am in my 4th semester of PT school. This is just about the halfway point of my schooling career. I've got lots of classes under my belt, but even more importantly, I've finally gotten the opportunity to be in the clinic. I recently completed my six-week clinical rotation in December. The setting was an outpatient clinic that dealt mainly with patients with low-back and neck injuries. I was able to see the occasional shoulder, hip, and knee patient as well.

Some tips for those of you entering the clinic.

Don't be intimidated - especially if it is your first clinical, your instructor knows what to expect of you (and it's not much). Obviously be aware of the PT basics (MMT, goniometry, and a basic exam), but don't sweat the big stuff. That is why you are in the clinic. I think I would've gotten much more from the experience if I didn't spend the first week and a half trying to decide my place. Just jump in and get your feet wet.

Ask questions - If your CI didn't want to answer your questions, they probably wouldn't have chosen to be a CI. If you're unsure of a technique or diagnosis, just ask. You must, of course, be aware of the appropriate time to ask questions. It may or may not be okay to ask things in front of patients or during the busiest hour of the day. You're there to learn, though, so soak it up.

Try, Touch, Feel - This is what is so important about the clinic. You have been practicing these techniques on you fairly healthy classmates for a few semesters. Now it is time to get into the nitty gritty of our profession. You'll be amazed when you feel a knot in someones back or tight suboccipitals like you've never seen. Try the techniques too! If you're uncomfortable, ask your CI if you can practice on them first. They will help you get it down before you go cranking on a patients frozen shoulder.

Those are just a few of the basics of getting started on a clinical rotation. I think now is the time when a lot of you out there are waiting for acceptance letters, so good luck! Keep checking PTCAS and checking back here for updates.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Cruise Control

To the four of you out there that read this, my deepest apologies. It's been ages since I've written, but I guess now is as good a time as any to post a quick update!

I'm in!

I've just about finished my first month in physical therapy school at Touro College in Bay Shore, NY, and it has been great so far. I was frustrated for a long time about all the rejection I faced, but I am a firm believer in the "everything happens for a reason" mantra, and I finally can say I get it now. Long Island is a great place to live and the school has been good to me so far. I'm meeting a lot of great people who share similar interests as me, which I guess is the point of grad school, right?

The strangest thing, I would say, is that most of your classes don't feel like so much work because you are actually learning things you've always intended to learn. There's no fluff or filler classes (Ok, there are definitely a couple of these in this first semester, but it's not as bad as having to take evolution or microeconomics). 

Not a whole lot to say, but just a quick post to keep you in the loop.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stuck in the Roundabout

Applying to and getting accepted into grad school is no easy feat. Trust me, I've been through the torture these past few months. I can flat out say I don't have the best GPA in the pool. Why should I worry though? All I hear are the constant drone of "colleges want a 'well-rounded' student," always ending with the dreadful tagline, "You'll be fine. You have nothing to worry about." Let me be the first to say: shenanigans.

Maybe it's not every school. Maybe it's not every major. Heck, maybe it's just me and I'm not quite as well-rounded as I think I am. I've applied to twelve schools. TWELVE! (Soon to be 14, but who's counting.) Out of those 12 schools, I have been accepted to one. ONE! What does that mean for me, and, more importantly, the poor undergrads as a whole: Maybe being well-rounded isn't the most important. I think it's a factor, don't get me wrong, but it seems there are other factors at play here that I just missed the boat on.

As mentioned earlier, my GPA could definitely be improved. Especially after PTCAS averaged out my retakes. "Don't worry!" they told me. My GRE scores are pretty competitive, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more involved than me. (Ok, I'm not the most involved, but my campus involvement is pretty impressive). I do the volunteer work. I had the observation. What is my downfall? GPA! My poor, pitiful GPA gets me rejected to all the schools I had hoped to be accepted into.

So, my word to the wise: Keep your GPA up! Do good on your GRE! After that, your stuff is icing on the cake. Yes, get involved. No, don't be a social outcast, but find that balance. Don't let your GPA suffer because you want to be in 15 different student organizations. At the end of the day, school's will be judging you on that GPA. Maybe not all programs. Maybe not all schools, but it seems to be a common theme in the medical/health field.

Feel free to debate this with me. I'd really like to hear your experiences and some proof for the other side!

In other news, I have sent my application in for the University of North Dakota Physical Therapy program. They don't use the PTCAS system, so my GPA will be much higher, and I will be facing less applicants! Fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Waiting Game

Hey all,

I realize I haven't posted in a while, but the PT world has been pretty quiet for me. Here's where I stand so far:

AT Still University of Health SciencesAZ - Application put on hold
Central Michigan UniversityMI- Still waiting; should be soon
Chatham UniversityPA- waitlisted; still hoping for a spot
DrexelPA- rejected
Franklin Pierce University 
     Concord CampusNH- decided not to apply
Hampton UniversityVA- haven't heard anything!
Oakland UniversityMI- waiting; should hear in Feb.
Touro College 
     Bay Shore (Long Island)NY- accepted; paid $1,000
deposit to hold my seat
University of Maryland - Eastern ShoreMD- haven't heard anything
Wayne State UniversityMI- waiting; should hear in Feb.

I also decided to apply to the University of Illinois- Chicago and Grand Valley State University, but both programs have also rejected me.

It's been a tough road, but there is still lots of hope out there. I've been accepted to Touro College in NY. I am very excited to have an option. My only reservations with that school are mainly the costs associated. Not only is tuition more expensive, but cost of living in NY is a lot higher than I would like. Then there is always the money associated with traveling home. All things you have to consider when deciding on a grad school. I also have not visited the campus yet. I would have liked to get to know the program a little better before I committed with a deposit, but timing prevented that. I've heard good and bad things about the program, so we will see! In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A fork in the road...

I never thought for one second that I would even consider declining an offer to grad school, especially without a backup plan in place, but here I am, struggling with the possibility. A school in New York has offered me a position in their DPT program. After the party balloons and confetti fell to the ground after that news, I was left with a decision I would really rather not make.

You see, the real snag here is that this school in New York has given me only 4 weeks to decide if I want to go there or not. That decision, coupled with a check for $1,000 they are asking for, has left me feeling rather ill about the whole situation. New York is kind of far away. It probably would be a cool place to be for a little bit, but it is far away. And it's expensive. It would probably amount to about 20k or more in debt above what most other schools would cost me. Did I mention New York is kinda far away? I'm a homebody....

Another thing that is slowing me from throwing a grand at this school was the absolutely amazing interview I had at another school in Pittsburgh. The actual interview part went well I thought, but everything about the school just really felt right to me. It seemed like a place that was a really good fit for me, and I could totally see myself being a part of that program. The city and the school were both great. I think that the interview went well, but who is to say that I was one of the top 36 people they want for their school? I had a good feeling, but I'm not sure it was good enough to not accept the offer to the school in NY. I can always rescind my offer, but then I'm out $1,000. Probably not a huge deal in the long run, but a big enough deal to put me in this predicament.

I still have 5 or 6 schools that have not contacted me yet, so there is still quite a bit of hope that I could get into somewhere else, but the 3 rejection letters I got also drag a little bit of that hope away. The school I was accepted into in NY has a larger class size (70 people) and a slighter lower minimum GPA, sooo...I don't know. Just a lot of things to think about. I never thought being accepted into grad school could be so stressful!

My solution for now: Call the Pittsburgh school tomorrow and see if they are willing to give me an expedited answer. That would really ease my mind. So, for anyone who is still reading: I could use some advice as to what I should do. Or maybe, you just have an extra G lying around you could donate? :) Either way, I appreciate the responses and readers!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The First Green Light

After a few weeks of waiting sprinkled with a some (3) rejection letters, I can finally report to you faithful blog followers some good news! Next, Saturday, November 19th, 2011 I will be heading to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for an on-campus interview for the physical therapy school at Chatham University.

Chatham University is in Pittsburgh, PA and home to 2,200 students. The undergraduate portion of the university is exclusively women, but graduate programs are all co-ed. Rummaging around some random physical therapy student forums, it seems that all the students that are at the school really love it. The campus looks really nice from the pictures I saw on the website, and Pittsburgh seems like it could be a really cool place to spend 3.5 years of my life (and it's only about 5.5 hours from home, which isn't that bad at all!)

I'm pretty nervous about the interview, but really excited to have the opportunity to move on to the next chapter in my life. Undergrad is getting tiring, and I am truly ready to be focused on things that I want to be doing the rest of my life. So, next Saturday, my parents and I (maybe Holly, too) will be hitting the road to check out the school and hopefully wow the interviewers!

If you've got any interview tips or just kind words of encouragement, I'm always up to hear them!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's been a while, and I need to write...

So, turns out applying to grad schools and doing the million other things that I do during the average day doesn't leave much room for blogging. For now, I'll give you the quick and dirty version of what I've been doing with my life in regards to physical therapy, because there has been quite a bit of news.

I started shadowing at the local hospital by my school. It proved to be a really great experience, and I was able to see a lot of variety in the physical therapy field. The three PTs that I was able to work with were really great. They knew quite a bit about the field, and had really great hearts in their work. One of the therapists was from India, one from South Africa, and one from here in Michigan. The stories that they told me were great. I am really sad that I won't be hanging around them everyday now. Like I said, they just had the biggest hearts, and I like to surround myself with people with big hearts. The small-town atmosphere at the place was great. Every patient that came in knew about the therapists' lives and vice-versa. I think this really improved the actual therapy that was being given. The PTs knew what their patients were up to and how it affected the treatment that they were receiving. In regards to the variety I saw, it was pretty great. A lot of the patients were there for your typical orthopedic therapy. They had broken a hip, got a knee replacement, tore their rotator cuff or something along those lines. Those injuries are neat to treat and see progress, but they were mostly things I had already seen in my shadowing. Some of the newer things I got to see was the training of a prosthetic leg and a child with Pompe's disease (A disease that causes severe muscle weakness due to a missing enzyme in the body). I learned a little about something called the McKenzie method, which is a type of physical therapy that involves extension of the body to help "move" pain out of the body. It is really cool to see in action and is definitely something that I would be interested in learning more about later. All in all, it was a great opportunity, and I'm really glad that I was able to observe there.

In the world of applications, I have added two schools to my list: University of Illinois- Chicago and Grand Valley State University. Those applications are done, and now I am just waiting (still) (not so patiently) to hear back from someone. A little bit of possible good news though: Chatam University in Pittsburgh emailed me saying that I was being placed into their 'priority' track. Basically, that means that I will have a sooner interview with them and will know sooner whether or not I got in. All depending on if they like me or not, of course. Still trying to be hopeful.

I probably could come up with a little more to say, but we can just leave it at that for now. I'll keep you updated as the offers roll in.... -_-