My PT story begins with the difficult choice between pharmacy and physical therapy. Like most people, I looked for career choices that would provide what everyone looks for in an ideal profession–money, free time, and fulfillment. After high school, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Walgreens–Chicago College of Pharmacy Career Explorers Program summer internship hosted by Midwestern University, which influenced me to enter my college years as a pre-pharmacy major. Although the classes weren’t terribly challenging, I felt anxious about my major for most of my freshman year. Later that year, I began to research and look into physical therapy again and realized that I made a mistake and was simply blinded by the dollar signs in the pharmacy career path. Physical therapy is the field that would not only bring food to the table, but also enable me to make a more meaningful impact in people’s lives.
Crossing My Fingers
My university has a 3+3 program in which students have the option to complete 3 years of undergrad followed by 3 years of PT school. As a junior, I began the application process into the physical therapy program along with all the other PT hopefuls in my year. I applied with a 3.4 GPA, started the PTCAS application in September, and included a total of 3 references. Immediately after the deadline, I overheard classmates receive acceptance phone calls and saw excited posts on social media, I was devastated. Week after week, I crossed my fingers hoping for a call and with each passing week, I lost more and more hope. When I had no doubt of being denied acceptance, I met with my advisor and set a game plan that would improve my chances of getting accepted the next year: take a full anatomy course, get the highest grades possible during senior year, and obtain a bachelor’s degree.
The Game Plan
The game plan was put into action that summer. I enrolled in a local community college and spent the last of my savings on a $1200 Anatomy 1 course. For the duration of the class, I spent my mornings caddying at a country club and the evenings in lectures and labs, all while saving money to afford Anatomy 2. From then on, I gave my all to every test and assignment in all my classes to get the best grades possible. When the next PTCAS cycle came around, I applied with a 3.7 GPA, started the application the day it opened, included 5 letters of recommendation, and was on track to graduate with a Bachelor in Health Science. After putting in the work and doing that I could do, I was offered an interview and I had no doubt that I would get accepted into the program. A few weeks later I was blessed with the phone call from the admissions board congratulating me on my acceptance in to the class of 2018. It was then when i realized,
Success is just the ability to withstand pressure.
The Next Chapter
Now that I am in PT school, there are a new set of hurdles in my way. Heavy class loads, clinical rotations, and the NPTE board exam is now the new reality. New graduates are faced with low reimbursements, low salaries, and high student debts. Although this is the unfortunate reality, I refuse to accept and settle for that standard. Although PT school is hard work, and there is more work to be done after graduation, I have no regrets. I have already seen the lives that have been changed through my efforts in and out of the classroom. I am making positive impacts on patients, networking with colleagues, mentoring undergrads looking to join the physical therapy profession. I continue to seek ways to make myself more valuable and set a solid foundation for life post-graduation.
Everyone, from those unsure if physical therapy is the right career choice for them to those who love and enjoy the profession but are fazed by the inevitable challenges ahead, can learn from my experiences.
Here are 5 ways you can learn from my mistakes:
- Do your research. Commit to a career path after learning as much as you can about the profession. Talk to professionals about their experiences. Get a real sense for the actual work vibe and get internships. Don’t waste your tuition money, time, and effort by putting in the work for something you are passionate about and see yourself doing long term.
- Speed wins. Be efficient with your time and resources so your plans for the future have as little side tracks and obstacles as possible. If I did everything right the first time, I would be a third-year student with a year less of tuition to account for.
- Save for a rainy day. Life happens; you never know what will happen. It is better to have a safe financial cushion to be prepared for whatever life throws your way.
- Keep your eye on the prize. It is easy to get lost in the everyday things in life and lose focus on your goals. In order to avoid burnout and enjoy the journey, it is paramount that you always remember what you are working towards.
- Find a mentor. Experience is the best teacher, unless you can learn from someone who already has that experience. Save yourself time and trouble by learning from the mistakes and victories of other people.
to be continued…
Thank You for Your Attention
I owe a great deal of my success to Smart Success PT. The course relaunches in June but Pre-registration for Smart Success PT is open now! If you’re frustrated with PT School, your new job, or struggling to grow your business, Sign up and be the first to know how to Change your career!
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Edited: Ffrancesca Famorcan
To learn how Physical Therapy can serve you, see newgradphysicaltherapy.com GetPT1st , Greg Todd , Renewal Rehab Paul Gough Physio Rooms, Functional Patterns , Aaron LeBauer , Kelly Starrett, The Movement Fix, Anatomy Trains, The Prehab Guys, Modern Manual Therapy, Dr. Ben Fung & Updoc Media , Andrews University Physical Therapy
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