Staying Sane in Physical Therapy School

If you read my earlier post on the similarities between graduate school and elementary school, you’ll recall the mention of a game called nine-square that my classmates and I play. My friends family members claim to understand the game once I’ve explained it, but I haven’t discussed how truly vital it is to out lives as DPT students. Without it, I truly think we would be lost.

The typical Monday of a first year PT student begins with traveling to class. Some have a five minute commute while others sit in their cars for over an hour. Then we sit down for our first two hour long lecture. Our classes range from two to four hours long, and we’re in class  for 31 hours a week. Some of those hours are spent standing in lab, but that’s a lot of sitting.

A big component of physical therapy is weight bearing. By putting weight through your bones and joints, you strengthen them. We need to stand, stretch, and weight bear regularly. That’s why our teachers have tricked us into playing nine-square at every break we get.

I’m not upset. Continue reading


5 Reasons Elementary and PT Graduate School Are Actually the Same Thing

Graduate school.

Those two words would have terrified me as a child. Who would go to school as a job? As I sat on top of a slide during elementary school, I couldn’t imagine wanting to learn something so much that I would professionally go to school. I wanted to be an astronaut. To my second grade mind, all I had to do was show up at NASA headquarters, and they would let me play in the zero-gravity simulator.

Little did I know that I would end up in Indy studying after college to be the best physical therapist I can be. After a lunchtime aside made by a few of my DPT classmates, we were shocked to realize that grad school isn’t all that different from elementary school, and I was inspired to write this post.

1) Class

Whether there were 25 students or my current class of 48, we all go to class together. We walk across campus in a student physical therapist bundle as we drag our feet skip happily toward our next class. We’ve graduated from 50 minute classes to 3 hour classes, and we spend a good 31 hours per week together in the classroom, but it’s essentially the same thing. Continue reading

The Pitfalls of Defensiveness

If there is one thing that my PT professors are trying to hammer into me it is this: don’t be defensive.

That advice is hard to take in when your initial reaction is “What do you mean defensive? I’m open to criticism, no problem.”

Guess what? Everyone is defensive. No one likes to be wrong or likes it when their choices come under scrutiny. I have a high tendency to be defensive instead of listening to what people have to say and taking their words into consideration.

This past weekend, I went to a workshop for Cantors at church. I’ve been cantoring at mass for years and singing for many more alone and with ensembles. The presenter for this workshop told us things we thought we knew but needed a refresher on. Tips like how to stand to get the best air flow and when to move to the ambo to sing the psalm. At the end of the workshop, I was given the chance to work one-on-one with the archdiocesan music director.

Notice how I phrased that. Continue reading

Any PT Guitarists Out There?

Touch is vital to physical therapy. A PT’s ability to palpate the body to determine illness and injury is integral to the profession and to the field of health care. To be able to feel these things, a physical therapist needs to develop their hands.

To do so, we’ve got a long list of tasks to master. One task is to feel 4 different coins in our pocket and pull each out heads side up without looking. This takes sensitive finger pads.

Anyone who has played guitar can tell you that sensitive fingers are not conducive to playing.

Callouses build up over time so that holding down strings is no longer painful. These callouses are immediate signs of a string instrument player. Once I even had someone feel my fingers after they didn’t believe me when I said I played guitar.

Those callouses are not helping me now. Continue reading

The Balancing Act


Imagine an old fashioned circus. The tent arches high overhead, and three separate rings are arrayed across the sandy ground. Acrobats are flipping and flying in one ring while clowns crowd into a car in a second. The third ring has something equally exciting and daring inside clamoring for your attention. You want to watch all three of them, but you can’t.

Or can you? Continue reading