Reflections on the First Year of PT School

Name: Rachel Maass, Class of 2018
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Undergrad: Colorado State University
Fun Fact: I get the hiccups a lot.
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This first year of physical therapy school has been one of the longest, craziest, and hardest years of my life for sure. Looking back on the year, I am so proud of my classmates and myself for what we have accomplished! A year ago, I was leaving the city I love and the last real job I’d have before becoming a PT. I moved in with three other girls from the program and was unsure of what to expect at Regis. With the start of school, I remember long days in Claver Hall room 315 and our professional ceremony where we said our oath. I remember making those first cuts in Anatomy lab and being the only girl in a group of boys, besides our cadaver who we named Pam.

PT Bags

Getting our PT kits at the professional ceremony

I must say that physical therapy school was not quite as I had imagined it would be, but I have grown and learned so much in this first year, and I would not change that for anything. It definitely took some time to get out of the competitive mindset I had in undergrad, but I quickly found that the competitive atmosphere does not exist at Regis. Our class of 2018 has become a family. This year was challenging, but I have learned so much from my experiences and classmates. I feel like I am turning into a young professional, and I have started to figure out what I want to do as a PT. Through CSM (the APTA national conference) presentations as well as meetings I went to outside of what is expected, I have found an interest in helping young athletes and special populations, including women with female athlete triad disorder and individuals with eating disorders.

It can be really difficult to explain this process of PT school to people outside of the program, but I truly cherish the changes and challenges between the first and last days of the first year. I can definitely say that it is all worth it! As I get ready to head out to my first clinical experience, I feel confident in the skills I have learned and in my ability to present myself in a professional, competent way. Even as I count down the days, I look forward to finishing the next two years at Regis and working to become the best PT I can be with my support system and classmates by my side.

Anatomy Studying

Anatomy study session—PT school reality

I have many pieces of advice, so do not be afraid to ask me or your mentors as some of you go into this first year! Some of my biggest pieces of advice are these:

  • Know why you are here and why you want to be a physical therapist. Write it down. In this first year, you may question why you are putting yourself through all of it, and it can be a good reminder when things get tough.
  • Be flexible. Have an open mind. Classes and expectations change, so be ready for it.
  • Try to always keep the big picture in mind (how you study and how you behave, for example). Focus on what really matters. Take advantage of the learning opportunities provided (ISL, review sessions, etc.). Keep up on the basics.

Try everything. Get involved in leadership roles. Go to meetings. Join a committee for the Move Forward Race. Go to diversity lunches, etc. Make your time here count, and have fun!

Rachel at Regis

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