Name: Leigh Dugan
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Undergrad: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Fun Fact: My husband is in the military and we have moved 4 times in 2 years!!
Hi, Class of 2019! Congratulations on your acceptance to the Regis DPT program; you will not regret your decision to come here. So, now that you have made the choice to make Denver, CO your home, the next step is deciding where to live. Most of you will live close by, so getting to school will not be a problem. However, there may be a few of you that do not have the luxury to live that close for whatever reason. This was the situation that I found myself in a year ago when I decided to go to Regis in the fall. My family could not relocate to Denver and I made the decision to commute from Colorado Springs each day—a 140-mile roundtrip journey on each side of an 8-5pm class day.
Leigh, Taylor and Amanada enjoying some time off of school
I decided to write this blog post because I wish that I had been able to talk to someone to tell me that yes, it is possible and yes, it will be tough. If this is something you are trying to figure out before beginning PT school in August, here are a few tips that I would love to share with you to hopefully make your decision easier:
- The commute IS indeed possible and was actually quite relaxing after a long school day.
- Take the time during your drive to decompress. Sometimes, I would sit in absolute silence and take the time to relax and reflect on the day. It is a good excuse to truly do nothing.
- Be prepared to not have much of a life. When you drive for 3 hours each day, most of your free time is devoted to studying. I wish I could say that there wasn’t much work outside of school in the first year, but that is not the case. Be prepared to spend a few hours after class each day doing school work or studying.
- To add to the above comment, you have to really make an effort to balance fun times and studying in your free time. This is so important for anyone in PT school to ensure that you keep your sanity!
- Group projects can be tough to coordinate, but all of my classmates took into consideration my commute and it worked out fine.
- Find a good podcast that is “mindless.” After a long day of learning, you will want something that is entertaining but isn’t taxing on your mind.
- Waze, the traffic app, will be your best friend.
- You will figure out the best times to leave your house in order to dodge traffic. I really learned to take advantage of the extra time I had at school before and after class to get work done so I wouldn’t have to do it at home.
- It is tough to miss out on all of the fun activities after class. A lot of times, my classmates would go out to concerts or for drinks on weekends and it would be hard to miss these moments. Make an effort to still engage with your class! I never regretted spending the night on a couch so I could join in on the fun :).
- Do not be afraid to ask for help from your classmates. You will find that everyone in your class is on the same team and they truly want to help. I would not have survived without them!
Brunch after second semester finals
Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions on commuting or any questions at all about Regis! Congratulations again on your acceptance to Regis!
Blogger: Leigh Dugan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Amy Medlock, Class of 2017
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Undergrad: University of Notre Dame
Fun Fact: My right thumb is 1 cm shorter than the left
Finals week. What a great time to be writing this post on time & life management. PT school is demanding and can often feel overwhelming, but it does not have to take over your entire life. In addition to the responsibilities of school I am married, have two kids (Emma & Lyla), and I have to commute over one hour each day. I have a secret though: since the end of my 2nd semester, I have not studied after 5pm or on weekends and my GPA is doing as well as ever. Shhh…Don’t tell our faculty!
My family – Matt, Emma (7) and Lyla (4)
It is definitely not easy getting through a DPT program with extra responsibilities, but with the right discipline and support it is entirely possible. Since starting PT school there are a few tricks and tactics I have learned that may seem simple but have made it possible for me to keep my nights and weekends free for my family.
- Give yourself set hours – I arrive at school every day at 7am whether we start class at 8am or 1pm, and I leave everyday between 4:00p and 5:00p even if we get done with class earlier.
- Pay attention in class – This may seem obvious, but some people don’t do it. If you look at people’s computers during lecture you’ll see people checking Facebook, playing Bubble Spinner or reading the news. To avoid becoming distracted by the ever present lure of Facebook or browsing the news, I sit in the front row to help keep my attention focused on taking notes. Class is valuable time that significantly reduces the amount of additional studying.
- Schedule everything – I start every week by scheduling out every day from when I am going to exercise, complete upcoming assignments, to when I can meet up with friends. This keeps me accountable to my goals and keeps me from feeling like I have things hanging over my head or that I am forgetting something.
A typical week in my life (minus my kids’ and husband’s events)
- Study when you study – Again, this might seem obvious, but it is really easy to get distracted by conversations, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. while studying. I have become very selective in the locations I will study and the people I will study with in order to maximize my study time. I have also found people who are willing to drive down to the ‘burbs where I live on days when the demands of being a mom require that I stay closer to home (Thanks, Tane Owens!).
- Exercise & get outside – This helps me so much with feeling healthy, maintaining my energy and focusing while studying. We are PTs, I don’t need to give all the reasons why this is a must! Being productive and efficient with my studies enables me to still live an active lifestyle.
Some of my activities outside of PT school
- Leave school at school – I understand that it is difficult for those that live with classmates but I avoid doing school work at home. I do my best to be present to my husband and kids whenever I am at home. I am not saying that I am perfect at this, but I really do try.
- Stay involved – I have found ways to stay involved and active in both our academic program as well as our profession as a whole. Adding extra responsibilities and events further forces me to organize my time and priorities. I do not have time to procrastinate; therefore, I do not.
- Develop a support network – I feel so blessed to have a supportive and understanding husband who stays home with our kids when they are sick, makes dinner when I get stuck in traffic, and pushes me to be the best wife, mom and student that I can possibly be. I also have amazing mom-friends who have my back when childcare falls through or when I need a glass of wine and movie night.
I have had to develop these strategies and practices out of necessity due to my responsibilities and commitments outside of PT school. But, we all have responsibilities and commitments outside of the classroom. I hope some of these pointers can help you to stay focused and stress-free(ish!) as you go through this vigorous program.
Service and advocacy with my classmates and colleagues