Physical therapy school was one of the most rewarding and challenging times of my life. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the University of Minnesota, where I met some of my best friends and was able to expand my career possibilities by earning my doctorate in physical therapy. As most people in my life understand, it was not the easiest time either. For those of you thinking about attending grad school or are in the middle of it, here are three tips I wish I had known and followed in my time as a formal student.
Being balanced doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same things every day for the same amount of time. A better analogy of balance that I picked up from Eric Cressey was balance should be an ebb and flow throughout the course of a week, a month and a year. Some nights you might have to be in the library studying for a test. Other times you might need to go enjoy yourself at a family wedding after finals. Everyone has a different scale of what balanced means and what works well for them. My first piece of advice would be to realize the times in the semester you have to work really hard and the times in the semester you can relax and have fun. Both of these are equally important for you to have success in your schooling years.
If I had to teach a grad school course, the first slide I would show all of my students would be all the research that exercise supports doing well in school. I was fortunate enough to be able to run the Twin Cities Marathon my first year in grad school. I was constantly involved with going to the gym or shooting hoops with my friends in school. This doesn’t just apply to those studying exercise for a living. All grad students should have some sort of exercise built into their everyday schedule, and not just the first week of the semester. Walking, lifting weights, yoga and playing spike ball are all different but product ways to keep your physical and mental health in shape.
It is tempting to want to know everything right away when you first start PT school. With anatomy being the first class of the semester, I knew that is was the building blocks for my success if I ever wanted to perform as a high functioning therapist. Despite this, I still wanted to know all the fancy tests and get out into clinic even before I understood the basics first. My tenth grade English teacher, Dr. Reinartz, taught me that if you are always looking forward to things in the future, you miss out too much in the present. Take your time. Learn the basics and build a wide foundation for your career to grow off of. You will thank yourself later.
I hope these three little tidbits help anyone in grad school or thinking about attending PT school in the future. I was not the perfect student, yet I learned an incredible amount of knowledge and lessons in my time studying to be a therapist. Please reach out to me if you have any other questions about rehab, grad school or exercise in general. Thanks for reading!
Tom Broback, DPT, CSCS
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