Free at Last…Sort of!

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Last week, I finished my last academic semester of physical therapy school ever! Although grades do not really matter to me, I managed to pull a 3.6 GPA. This semester was tough. I wanted it to speed up so that I could be with my family BUT, I needed more time to study and complete projects. Either way, I completed my work and turned it in on time. The bitching and complaining actually paid off! Although I am going to miss a majority of my professors and classmates, I am so excited to be 78.8% done. Now, I can relax and focus on starting the next chapter.

Just to recap way back when, my first clinical was at an outpatient facility where I saw patients with neck, low back, hip and knee conditions. I learned a ton but, I was not enthralled with ortho whatsoever. It was almost like a factory. Everyday, I would see three patients in one hour- first patient gets heat for 12 minutes, second patient gets massage, and the third does exercises with the tech. I did not like this method at all. Although it did not seem like true quality care, the patients were getting better based on their specific treatment plans so I could not complain.

My second clinical rotation was in an acute care setting. It was a large teaching hospital with a beautiful campus and super friendly employees. I got to evaluate and treat post-op, medical intensive care, neonatal intensive care, stroke, lymphedema and wound care patients. I also had the opportunity to communicate with PTAs, OTs, SLPs, nurses and most importantly, the doctors. I made sure that I paid attention to vitals and was cautious of every cord visible to the naked eye (i.e. I.V. poles, foley catheter bags, Jackson Pratt drains, monitors). In my opinion, it is beneficial to obtain experience in each setting (acute, sub-acute, outpatient) so that you have an idea of the patient’s skills in relation to their plan of care.

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I like to think of this journey as one big meal: P.T. school was the big appetizer, graduation is the main course and my board exam is the dessert! So of course, I am still hungry for more. Next on my menu is my third and last clinical rotation. This time it is at an inpatient rehab facility  treating patients with strokes, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic issues and other neuro conditions. Even though I am scared, I have always wanted to work with patients who have neurological disorders.

After I am done with my clinical rotation, I can register for the National Physical Therapy Exam. Prior to sitting for the exam, I must have my degree (coming May 2016!) and wait for the July date. With that being said, I have to study my ass off starting NOW! It takes me longer to process information so I am going to review my class notes, text books, exam prep books and take the practice tests. Luckily, my school was nice enough to provide us with a two-day review course to help us prepare for the exam.

After taking a few practice exams in the course, I was able to pin point my weaknesses (musculoskeletal patient management) and strengths (neuromuscular patient management). I expected to be overwhelmed but actually, I was relieved. The course was helpful in that it helped me gauge where I am and to hone in on which topics/subjects require most of my attention. I am going start reviewing my anatomy and then dive into the more dense material. I am confident that I will pass my board exam on the first try and be a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy by my birthday next summer.

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Free at Last…Sort of!