Tomorrow marks the beginning of finals week. And by finals “week”, I mean “two weeks”.

My first exam is at 10am tomorrow morning. It’s a practical on therapeutic procedures.

A few things I need to remember: lock the traction table (and unlock…and relock), give the patient the emergency stop button, hook the rope before the patient is in the cervical harness, OR clean the ultrasound head (twice) (and remember to grab the alcohol swaps with the sensory tools), OR say that I took the patient’s blood pressure and measured the circumference of their affected and unaffected limbs for comparison, OR check the damn intensity dial on the diathermy drum. ALSO: ask about potential pregnancy, metal implants or pacemakers. And wash my hands! Twice!

That probably doesn’t mean anything to any of you, but…just cross your fingers that I remember! 🙂


Small Victory

In one of my classes, we had a weekly pop quiz throughout the semester. All of the grades put together make up our third exam grade. As an additional proverbial carrot, our professor also bought a little “Physical Therapy Pocket Guide” book and literally hung it up in the front of the room. About three weeks in to class, he said he would give it to whoever scored the highest overall grade on the pop quizzes.

Challenge accepted.

This morning was the tenth and final pop quiz. He graded them while we did lab stuff and then announced the winner. He said that the highest grade was 46 out of 50. I’d been tallying my quiz grades so I knew it was me.

It’s kind of a silly thing, but I was very pleased. I worked hard for those grades and, perhaps more importantly, I beat out the men-children in my class who’ve been giving me shit simply because my intelligence threatens their fragile egos. I’m thinking of one in particular – perhaps a story for another day…?

Either way, I won. Victory is mine! Mwahahahaha!

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Done! (For Now…)

*NOTE: this is not a picture of me, but it’s a good example of a goniometry test*

I made it. All three midterm practicals are DONE!!!! Woohoo!

Today’s practical went very well, definitely the best of the three. I actually think I did everything perfect (and my partner agreed). Not sure the professor will give me a 100, but I know I didn’t make any errors. She just might take points for “finesse” or whatever. There was a moment when the lab tech interrupted to “fix my form”. He must have noticed the look of confusion on my face (since I knew I was doing the test properly) so he quickly said, “This is a teaching moment…this is not for grading. I just want to show you something.” Which, phew, that was a relief! But I sorta wish he’d waited for open lab to teach me that particular adjustment.

Anyway. These tests were not as bad as I’d originally though they’d be. Partly, I think, because I’m much calmer than I used to be. But also because I was incredibly prepared, both in knowledge and in practice. I’ve clocked many, many hours doing the same tests, procedures, interviews, movements over and over and over. If nothing else, muscle memory kicked in to save my butt. But also, I just knew it. I knew it well. And that allowed me to walk into each room with confidence.

I’m very proud of myself. And I rewarded myself by taking a nice long nap.

Now I need to go study for the three exams I have coming up and begin writing the three papers due next month. Never a dull moment!

Thanks for all your support this week 🙂

Two Down

Okay, so my second practical exam was this morning. Turns out my professor fractured his arm to the point of requiring surgery, so a different professor proctored the exam with our lab tech. She’s the same woman who proctored the exam I took on Monday. She’s nice (and definitely rooting for her students), but she’s admittedly intimidating.

I went into the exam wearing my fancy white coat and acted as calm, cool, and confident as possible. My partner went first (which turned out to be a blessing because the case I randomly selected threw me for a spin and I needed that extra 15 minutes to think it through completely) and did a great job. Then I had a few moments to collect myself before my clock started (we each get 20 minutes total).

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I went through the interview and treatment very calmly. I asked all the appropriate questions and completed all the necessary steps, including critical safety measures (if you mess those up, it’s an automatic failure). The only thing that I didn’t love about my performance was that I removed the patient’s shirt and palpated the affected area AFTER I did a sensory test. Technically I probably should have removed his shirt, palpated, and then done the sensory test. The grading paper doesn’t have those things in any specific order – it just says you need to DO them, so hopefully I won’t lose too many points for that. The most important piece is that I know I appeared to be quite confident in all of the decisions I made and that is very important in a practical exam.

Unfortunately, a good friend made a critical safety error so the professor stopped her on the spot and said, “I’m sorry, but you’ve failed.” It sucks because my friend is a truly incredible student and she KNOWS this stuff. It was just a simple matter of forgetting something basic, but vitally important. Honestly, it could have been any of us to make that exact error. She’ll be fine overall, but now she’s under more pressure since she needs to do well on the final practical in order to pass the class.

Anyway…two down, one to go. By 12:30pm EST tomorrow, I should be done with all midterm practical exams. Phew! Almost there!


you-have-the-audacityI’ve mentioned a couple times on here that I’m a college student. I already have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, but I didn’t spend too much time using that. I can tell myself a lot of crap about why I didn’t use it, but it’s mostly because the type of people that are drawn to the field of human services are the exact type of people that remind me of my sociopathic parents and thus inspire homicidal urges in me. No, not every person that works in the field is a narcissistic douchebag with a savior complex and a strong impulsive need to constantly be involved in some form of crisis, but let’s be honest – isn’t one person like that plenty? Yes. Yes, it really really is.

So I decided to change careers entirely. Which meant going back to school. When I started looking for PTA programs I realized there was one literally a neighborhood away from me. I can actually walk there (which I would probably do more frequently if I hadn’t experienced an attempted mugging-by-bicyclist the last time I tried that). It’s a very good program that was super competitive to get into. I worked my booty off to get in and was beyond stoked when I got that acceptance letter. In fact, it’s been magnetized to my fridge since the day I got it, 10 months ago.

Except now that I’m actually in the clinical program and, you know, learning how to practice physical therapy, I’m freaking out.

Part of the freaking out comes from how difficult the program is. I have a 4.0 and consider myself to be pretty damn smart, but this is some next level shit. Then there’s the sheer volume of physical contact I have to have with my peers. I certainly assumed I’d have to do lots of hands-on stuff with patients. And I guess I assumed I’d eventually be one of the “patients” – since we don’t have licenses yet (or even basic clinical skills at this point) we need to practice on each other so we don’t each get sued 400 times for malpractice. What I legit did NOT expect, however, was for my very first lab class to start with my professor saying,

“Okay, guys, choose a partner – someone you haven’t worked with yet – and pair up. Your first task is to properly drape your “patient”, remove their pants and shirt, and then put them back on, all while protecting your “patient’s” modesty and remaining professional with your touch.”

Guys. Omg. I literally stopped breathing. Pretty sure my heart stopped working as well. I was in full “freeze” mode for a good 2-3 minutes. I was panicking. But then I remembered that I know how to completely detach from my bodily sensations so I just floated up out of my body and went through the motions of being the “patient” all while this man I barely know literally reached under a sheet and pulled off my clothing in a crowded room with 23 other people I barely know. SO MUCH FUN.

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