5 Tips After PT School
I’m a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy graduate, and a licensed PT in my country too. My colleagues can testify their experience, but it was a hard fight to survive for an average student like me. But if there’s one unique thing I’d like to share is that: the struggle is real and it is not over at all.
Although, I’m not here to disappoint you. I’d like to share my sentiments to help people who are in the midst of the unknown. It’s my way to welcome you to the reality of life, and inspire on what I have learned through this process.
Here are 5 tips to remember after you’ve finished your degree and don’t know where to start.
1. Be Humble
We all know your theoretical knowledge and critical thinking have provided you enough knowledge and competence to face the world. There’s pride from the internship program and the experiences you’ve been through. Which can equip you to have a glimpse of what to expect when you’re out of it.
That’s totally the purpose of why you were meant to do that.
But, in interviews, the human resource personnel isn’t even looking at that. It’s all about how you approach them. The tone of your voice, and some sort of magic trick that can persuade you to be a potential employee.
(Unless, you were referred by someone, which by the way, good for you!)
We all try to approach interviews and embody our professionalism. But, pride can always take over and overpower to attract our real potential to grow on where we’re meant to be. Or being in where we want to be in.
Our title is our responsibility.
But that doesn’t mean we’re entitled to everything. Just because you are licensed, you’re invincible. What I mean is, we start to deem other professions incapable of what we’re doing. Or even your colleagues, which isn’t going to help you in the long run.
Because the word of mouth is more powerful than the internet’s influence culture.
Pride isn’t really bad. For as long as it’s about the advocacy to spread awareness of what your profession is and what you can do, that is not bad at all.
We have the power to curate our future, but in order to do that, there’s a balance between the ability to present yourself and being modest about your principles. And by that balance, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be 50% of everything. You’re meant for great things when it comes hand in hand.
2. Stay curious
I have attended a lot of seminars before I came out to the reality of applying it. I used to like neuromuscular conditions, and I excelled on it pretty much during my student days. I thought from the student talks and multiple knowledge about it, it will be my path.
Turns out, that’s not the case.
I was exposed to different types of cases each month that made me realize that there’s more than what meets the eye. It was really part of how my program and qualification for licensure was but, it helped me find a light to what suits me best.
Eventually, I fell in love with orthopedic patients. Not because they were easy, but it has been my real fascination with why I loved science.
As simple as loving to study bones as a child brought me on where I found myself more comfortable with.
I’m still not an expert on everything, which relates to the first point. And fortunately, in the profession, learning doesn’t stop. Especially during the transition of the new normal, there are many seminars and training you can get on whatever niche that might be. I mean, I don’t even practice but being able to refine what I know helps a lot for me to grow as an individual, and as a practitioner.
Because application is one of the highest forms of learning, for it helps the people that need me the most.
And it starts with you too, as most people would say: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. It’s not enough to know something unless you apply it to yourself. That will become your grasp on whatever practice or principle that may be. Because you know from the start of how the other person feels by doing it.
Some people jump right back to school to do that. The world association requires that asides from continuing education. Which is also good, not going to lie.
Stepping on the ladder of mastery is a definite approach for the ultimate curious.
But, there’s a growing trend that doesn’t seem to sit well with me. I might be in a different headspace to talk about, or I haven’t really found myself in that circumstance.
Apparently people are sometimes forced to do it or using it as a leverage to entitlement. Or from the start, they see it as an opportunity of growth but led the road of precariousness. What I mean is they think they’re superior to anyone else.
That’s why I said on my first tip is to be humble. That applies in all aspects.
For me, mastery is a path that comes up with the concrete decision to commit. Not to make it easier, but to make it worthwhile.
If it’s your choice, then build up the momentum to swing through it and overcome it with a better self. Where having values of compassion and respect for other people will still prevail despite stratum.
You’re not God, you’re a physical therapist.
Therefore, reflect on it. Then proceed of whatever path that keeps you curious every day.
3. Learn to listen
Often times, knowledge is always challenged in our profession. There are principles that we thought would stay that way, but all of a sudden it can change. And our job is to be able to trust the guidelines that are ever-changing.
Quite shocking, that’s why in universities in recent years, they teach critical appraisals, validity, and reliability check on outcome measures and journals. It benefits many, like how one speaker from a webinar I attended said non-verbatim:
What you’re doing to your patients and on your profession that works with everyone is your art. With evidence, it’s science.
On the contrary, even if we’re taught in school that we’re supposed to integrate evidence-based practice, pillars of principles, and culminated experiences, it’s clear that there are professionals that are autonomous with their clinical decision making.
Just because it works, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the blueprint of every patient.
I’m not against them at all. Because they were the inspirations I looked up. And they have tenure and more experience than I do as a new PT.
Although, you have your own journey you can create with what you have now and knowing that there’s more than that. Clash of knowledge and experience is unavoidable.
My advice is, always communicate and listen.
We always listen to our patients, because we want what’s best for them. That applies to our work ethic too. We are decision-makers, and standing on your high ground will leave you close for suggestions and improvements.
Maybe, you have a different experience than theirs. Or, there’s a factor that leads to disagreement. So, understanding where they are coming from opens the opportunity for better collaboration. Whether that’s your colleague or a different profession.
Not only you have learned them, but maybe they will learn from you too.
4. Be grateful and return the favor.
With it comes to returning the favor, that doesn’t mean we always have to do things pro-bono. We are professionals and we have the right to demand what we deserve especially compensation and services. Our knowledge and experience have a value that is more than student loans. But, we also have a responsibility to serve the people we are surrounded with.
It’s really fulfilling to know that there are patients that look up to you.
Because even with small progress, you’ve made a huge difference for them.
It’s what influenced me to continue this path. because it is humanistic, and being extension hands of my faith says it all.
You are all positioned for a purpose, and being in this profession there’s always a lot to be grateful for. With all of the facets of life that you’ve encountered, and will encounter, one life you can help serves a multitude of satisfaction.
Although, at the end of the day it’s not about being morally fulfilling. It’s your duty, and it comes with the ability to be empathic.
I’m thankful for being inspired by a few people in my life. Who has their eyes not for the prize, but to the people they are serving.
They understand what you’ve gone through because they’ve gone through it as well. They are pillars of the profession even with no hierarchy because they believe that we are also capable to be like them.
Or more than that, as one of my DPT colleague said when I was struggling with my licensure review. It’s unbelievable, that even with your lack of belief in yourself, they do trust you already.
That’s why I loved helping students, and interns who ask me about stuff. Even if I’m clearly out of my league nowadays. There are simple ways to encourage them to push through PT school and make it fun.
Because, by that, they are planting a seed that I have grown myself too. It’s teaching them how to take care of what they’ve planted for the harvest may be long, but it’s rewarding.
5. Aim for the stars
I’m sure that I have missed some things. That’s just how my perspective can go with regards to my experience. Because there is a bunch to learn with the journey I have taken. There’s more than just clinics too, maybe in your childhood, you thought you’ll be a business owner.
Surprise, Physical Therapy is a business where marketing yourself as a professional is the job.
If you wanted to be an artist, why not be an artist in Physical Therapy. Illustrations of study materials, anatomy and physiology photos will help students and even professionals to understand better what they have seen that’s not clear with them.
You don’t need to get it all figured out now.
But don’t let the chances pass by you, and conforming on what people have been used to for years. Always see if ever you’re growing in where you are. By learning that, you’re one closer to knowing how to live life to the fullest.
Venture on your journey with a mindset that benefits everyone, because that’s how the profession works. You’re meant to write someone’s prognosis and in order to do that, it shall benefit them in the long run.
You’re a long-term goal specialist, so be it.
I thought I won’t be able to post anything from my blog. But this, I hope will help everyone who’s reading it. Have fun colleagues!