My first year of P.T. school was tough. It sucked saying good bye to my family, friends and a 28,000 dollar a year salary as a tech. Moving 8 hours away was a stretch for me considering my undergrad was only 40 mins away from home. But, I knew that I was close enough to drive my 1997 Toyota Corolla home in case of an emergency. It was so weird being in a different state not knowing anyone! I had to rent a room for $550 a month using my refund check from school. At this point, I was relying on federal loans for financial support. I am grateful for them but paying them back is going to be brutal! Anyway, I was so far away from people that I knew. But I was close to McDonald’s, Walmart, Subway and the liquor store which was convenient. It felt close to home.
I remember calling my sister about my first day of class complaining that I hated it already and wanted to come home. After listening to my mini-rant, she said, “You did not come all that way to stop now. You will be fine. You worry too much!” There was no one in my position or with a story to tell. All of the other kids in my class had it easy. Half of them were there because they had physical therapy for a broken ankle or back problems. What pissed me off even more was that ALL of them only had 20 hours of observation. I thought to myself “What the hell is that?”. My 10,000 hours was shitting on their “day” of exposure. Not only did I feel like the elephant in the room because I was black but, I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone. I quickly shut down inside. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or ask for advice in P.T. school. I was alone. I didn’t have much guidance and literally did everything on my own. Luckily, I found a weekend job which helped to cover gas and food for the week.
I had to study every night for gross anatomy! I couldn’t memorize the material any more. I had to actually learn and use the information. Ugh! I was feeling uninspired. It sucked having 6 classes, 7 to 8 hours a day, and studying for the upcoming competency/examination. What me time did I have? I almost thought that P.T. school was a mistake. Just thinking, “Three more years of this bullshit?! I can’t.” They were asking for too much but eventually I learned how to manage my time better. After school, I would come home, eat, and watch an hour of television. Once that hour was up, I turned off my phone and read my notes from each class. I would go to the local library to get away from home distractions. After 4 hours, I would have the key points retained which felt good. I knew that I had to get at least an 80% on each assignment to pass. After all, it is a grad program. I followed this method up until practical and finals week which was stressful. I starting going to the gym to relieve stress. Those first 15 weeks of P.T. school was brutal but I made it.
When the semester was over, I was so happy to see a 3.4 GPA. It was proof that I was smart and I busted my ass to be in that program. After my first year was complete, I was ready for my summer clinical at an outpatient facility back in my hometown. This was so different from being a tech. It was intimidating but, it was so cool seeing the patients that our professors told us about. It felt good being in charge of someone’s recovery. I didn’t really like my clinical instructor because I could already tell that she was one of those P.T.s that I used to work with. One of those “I’m better because I’m a doctor and I have 6 years of experience.” Or “You’re a student so you don’t know how to do many of the techniques that I know.” Even though I wasn’t too fond of her, she taught me a lot. I was grateful for my experience and I was now 104.6% sure that I chose the right career!