Thank you to all of those who read my first blog and gave me some love! I appreciate the comments and if anyone is just now joining the show and missed my first installment basically what you missed was, I am lucky to be in PT school, first year was full of amazing people and memories, and physical therapy is a field full of caring team members.
Alright let's jump back into it. Second year started off with my first clinical experience out in Kewanee, IL. It was fantastic and also humbling to see how much I had already learned and how much further I still had to go. The clinic was outpatient ortho and I found out that this may not be the setting for me in a small town. The people were kind and caring, however it started to become a little repetitive--though my diagnostic skills were minimal at that point. Looking back it is insane how much I have grown since my first clinical experience.
After leaving the amazing schedule of my clinical where I was able to workout twice a day and put back on 10lbs, it was back to the "tough" year of physical therapy. I never could have imagined how mentally exhausting and challenging second year was. We had class 9-4 everyday and being the person I am I decided to throw being the laboratory assistant on top of that class schedule. By doing this my typical day for the entirety of second year looked like this: alarm goes off at 4, either wake up and study for classes or some how muster up the energy to workout (that didn't happen nearly as often as it should have) work 7-9, class 9-4, work 4-6, then try to study or work on group projects, or attempt to stay involved with our physical therapy student association. Lucky for me, I was staying in a house with 3 other guys in my program and had classmates and professors who were going just as crazy as I was.
While a job and classes probably would have been enough, I also decided that I wanted to go to National Student Conclave this year and got a couple of other people to join with. This is where I made some amazing connections and got inspired to start participating on a national level. I applied to work for PT Day of Service, to be apart of the ACAPT task force for creating a National Honors Society for physical therapy students, and for a few national scholarships. Of course I did not get everything I applied for, however I was lucky enough to realize that taking that initial step of applying wasn't that hard and getting turned down wasn't that scary.
I'll go off on a slight tangent here for those who are reading and think that anything I have done is impressive...its not. There are so many other PT students out there such as Jared Aguilar and his co-hosts of the ducklegs podcast, Katie Budz who is on the IPTA Board, or Cruz Romero who is just crushing it with the APTA, who are doing big things because they have been willing to apply and get told no. Take chances no matter what you're trying to do, the people that are succeeding are doing so because they applied. No one was given anything without putting in the time and overcoming the fear of being subjected to their peer's opinions.
Once getting back from NSC all I could think about was planning for CSM. I have such a love for our national conferences that I knew I would be attending as many as I could financially afford. After completing the treacherous fall semester, winter break was much more relaxing. For the first time in a couple years I just took some time to relax with my girlfriend. Even though she thought I had to be so bored as she went to work, I was just excited to have some time to myself and relax.
Next, spring semester came in with a vengeance so it was back to early mornings and late nights. Luckily CSM was right around the corner and San Antonio is warm in February so I had something to strive for. My second time at CSM was much more beneficial than the first. Not only did I actually understand the presentations, there were around 15 people from my program who were able to attend so we got to bond as a much larger group. A small portion of us got the chance to see the Center for the Intrepid on Fort Sam Houston which was only made possible by the Federal Section of the APTA and their hard work setting it all up. The Center for the Intrepid is a state of the art rehabilitation center for veterans who have lost a limb in combat. With its updated equipment, the therapists there are able to provide the optimal environment for recovery for these veterans.
Once CSM was over, we made our way back to Illinois and completed the last major didactic portion of our curriculum. It was such a relief knowing that my time of sitting in a classroom for long hours was coming to a close. Someone once described PT school to me as a triathlon, first year is the swim where you fight to just stay afloat, second year is the bike portion which is by far the longest, though you have a little better base. It is a mental game and sets up how you will finish. Next time we will get into the run portion of my story where my feet were on the ground and even though it is tough, I could finally see the end in sight.
Now for the "what physical therapy actually is" portion of my blog, physical therapists are so much more than working in the outpatient setting. To quote the APTA president Sharon Dunn, "grandparents will pick up their grandchildren, parents will climb the stairs into their children's homes, and kids with disabilities will be able to play alongside more able bodied cousins because physical therapists and physical therapist assistants made it possible." I would love to be able to come up with a more clever way to say something like this, however I feel that Dr. Dunn lays the message out perfectly. We are a profession full of caring team members who are striving to practice in a more evidence based manner so that your outcomes can be improved.
Again anyone who has any questions whether it be about your own pain or whether or not you should see a physical therapist please feel free to send me a message on facebook or twitter (@tracemcc11). Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.