I understand a lot of what you’re feeling. I a little bit of that my first year, so here are a few things to keep in mind:
I know it’s hard, but try not to worry so much about your classmates or get angry with yourself. The most important thing you have to do is take care of yourself and your own learning. I’ve found that it helps not to walk into lab blindly. Before lab, make sure to review the relevant notes and readings, and also take a look at the lab handout ahead of time if possible. Being caught up on the material and knowing what to expect in lab can go a long way to making sure you get the most out of lab. Also, try to find a classmate with whom you can practice lab skills once a week or so. And if you feel comfortable, talk to your professor. She or he may be able to give you some tips or even help you better comprehend the skills. It’s definitely a struggle sometimes to not feel overwhelmed in PT school, but hang in there, and soon when you’re treating patients you’ll realize you picked up a lot more than you thought you did!
As a child, I was fortunate to attend a sleepaway camp for five summers, where instead of the usual arts and crafts, I was able to learn circus skills for up to six hours a day. I learned to juggle, unicycle and perform on more types of trapeze than the average person knows exist. Learning to master these difficult and unique skills helped strengthen my self-confidence and apparently also developed my motor skills. At least two Olympians — skater Gracie Gold and skier Mikaela Shiffrin — have been quoted stating that their juggling and unicycling skills have helped get them to where the are today!
Mikaela recalled that they bought a unicycle because Eileen had read that it was good for balance, which she considered a pivotal athletic skill. The Shiffrin children also learned to juggle to improve their coordination.
“We then started going around our block, which was two miles long, riding the unicycle and juggling at the same time,” Mikaela said. “And if I was doing that, then Taylor would be behind me dribbling a soccer ball as he ran around the block.”
Eileen was confident it would pay off, even as she worried what people were saying about her children.
“You would see the neighbors coming out to watch the Shiffrins going around the block juggling on a unicycle,” Eileen said. “I’m sure they thought we were completely nuts.”
But the next summer, Taylor and Mikaela made their travel soccer teams.
As Eileen recalled: “The coach said to me: ‘What did you do? They’re great now.’ And I said, ‘You don’t really want to know.’ ”
I should have been an Olympic athlete — happy 2014 Olympics, everyone!
While many physical therapists love sports, and are first introduced to the field as injured athletes, it is definitely not necessary to love sports to be a PT. Physical therapy is a field made up of a diverse group of people with a wide range of interests, and there is no one hobby that a PT must have to be successful.
That said, many PT’s are former athletes and tend to be interested in sports. I myself fall into this category since I first became interested in PT after spraining my ankle during cross-country practice. That’s simply how many are introduced to the career, but it doesn’t make or break someone as a PT.
Personally, I think it’s more important to love exercising and working out than to love sports. I feel more reasonable assigning patients therapeutic exercises to do at home when I know that I’ll be doing my own “exercises” that night in the gym. If I’m telling them to workout, it only makes sense that I’m adhering to my own workouts as well. I also make it a goal to at least try every exercise I assign my patients. Many I performed as I learned them in school, but each time my CI assigned a new exercise in the clinic, I made sure to eventually try it out myself. This has lead to me incorporating various aspects of ther-ex into my own gym routine. I can be more empathetic to a patient when I can truthfully admit, “I know side-lying hip abduction is hard; I just did some myself last night.”
Regardless of whether you enjoy sports or working out, from the way you describe yourself wanting to “help people recover and be able to live normally again,” it sounds like you’re going to be a great physical therapist. Good luck with your PT journey!
Glad I can help! Good luck on your PT journy, Fishie!