This week saw me return to classes for, believe it or not, my third and final year of PT school. It feels completely weird to be part of the “senior” class in the program: all of the older students I knew have graduated and moved on, and as I result I’ve known fewer and fewer people outside of my own class. Plus, for the very first time since my class met at orientation two years ago, we’re all having vastly different experiences. We all did our summer internships at different clinics and we’ve all got different electives, putting us all on our own individual schedules for the first time.
The strangest thing, though, is that my five-year project of getting myself into a line of work that I was excited about and didn’t leave me wanting to kill someone at the end of the day is almost done. That point was really driven home when I found this in my campus mailbox on the first day of class:
Degree Application. For 2013 Graduation.
If just having the Degree Application wasn’t official enough, then turning it in yesterday certainly was. Unless something goes horribly, tragically wrong, I’ll have my very own Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the end of May.
The best part is, I’m just as excited about it now as I was when I took that very first night school class four years ago. In fact, after spending a summer “working” as a PT intern, I’m even more excited about it. While I’m not 100% sure that an outpatient clinic is where I ultimately want to end up working, I really enjoyed it. I loved working with the patients and, in many cases, absolutely loved seeing the improvements that I helped them make. On top of that, my patients all loved me. All of them – including a few that I had only seen once or twice – were visibly disappointed when I told them it was my last week in the clinic at the end of the summer, and several of them gave me big old hugs and wished me luck.
The whole summer was, hands down, one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had. Yes, there were days that I didn’t want to get up for work and, yes, there were specific patients that drove me a little batty, but the positives vastly outweighed the negatives.
In three and a half months I’ll be done with classes. In 9 months I’ll have my degree. In 11 months I’ll have my PT license and be a real, live, honest-to-goodness physical therapist.
I’m not going to lie: getting here has been a ton of hard work and was, at the beginning, a little scary. I gave up on a perfectly good, well-paying career track to spend several years unemployed and racking up an impressive amount of student loans to do something completely different. I basically moved out of my house, away from my husband and my cats, for a year. This spring, I’ll move out again for 9 weeks for an internship at a hospital in Alaska. All because I wanted a job that meant more than just a paycheck to me.
And you know what? I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.