The Great and Small Things I Learned in Physical Therapy School

I just made the title of this post and now I’m intimidated by it.

It’s a tall order to list all the great and small things I learned in all three years of physical therapy school, but I’ll try. It’ll be good.

(BTW, I’m a doctor now! I still need to take and pass my boards exam in July to be licensed, but I got the degree.)

This is my last “great and small things I’ve learned” post from my time at Boston University, and thinking about that just made my heart sink. Here are the ones I’ve written during my time in DPT school:

Let’s take a stab at reflecting on some of the great and small things I’ve learned throughout all of PT school, now that it’s over. I’m not going to look at any of my previous posts, so as to make this as candid and #raw as possible.

1) I am totally an external processor. Whether studying or figuring out the inner convoluted workings of my soul, talk talk talking is MAJOR KEY.

2) Starting a relationship while starting doctoral studies is challenging.

3) I truly had very little idea what was happening during my first semester of PT school. So much of what I thought I knew about physical therapy flew out the window, and I struggled greatly with the lack of context as I learned about so many different pathologies and interventions in a classroom setting. But it got better.

4) I learned how to embrace failure and let go of perfectionism.

5) It will always be worth it to reserve time and energy to pour into my faith and the community surrounding that faith.

6) That being said, I learned how to set boundaries between study time and my faith and social life. Not without a lot of struggle, strife, and sometimes hurt feelings, though.

7) I learned a lot about walking, and I can say with conviction that it is my favorite form of physical activity. It is one that I never want to take for granted.

8) Physical therapists help others to help themselves, and I love that about the profession. We want YOU to do the moving as much as possible, and we will help you get there.

9) My thoracic spine mobility is crap.

10) The answer to any of my personal problems is probably that I need to sleep and pray.

11) Having a diverse and loving group of friends in PT school is a blessing both in and out of the classroom.

12) In one instance, I cannot see myself doing anything but physical therapy. But in another instance, I can see myself doing something totally different.

13) Weaknesses really can become strengths, and often do.

14) I can spend a whole year with my friend, Janice, by my side and not get sick of her.

idk if it’s reciprocal though

15) The brain (and the whole central nervous system) is an absolute enigma and something that I wish to learn more about, regarding its relationship to and necessity for movement. Maybe one day I will pursue a neurological clinical specialty.

16) America runs on Dunkin’ and I still run on peanut butter and banana every day.

17) I have come to appreciate my family and my life situation more and more as time goes on.

18) Finding deep and abiding freedom, peace, and joy is of utmost importance to me, even if it hurts at first.

19) Many walls of pride have been burned down in different areas of my life, and that is exactly what I prayed would happen in January of 2017, well before PT school started. It has been a painful but very good process, and it never stops.

20) I think I’ve finally learned to try new things that are either neutral or good for me. Trying new things is not naturally my jam (see #16).

21) I can get close to running a half marathon if I don’t almost break my leg in the process.

22) I have learned how to have healthy confrontation and disagreement. I hate confrontation, but it can be extremely fruitful when done with respect, clarity, and charity.

23) It’s really nice to be in a class of people who want to help each other up the mountain.

24) Expect the unexpected.

25) Everyone always knows more than I do. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, but in an honest way. There will always be something someone else knows that I do not know. There will always be something that I can learn from any given person, whether that’s intellectually, academically, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, or physically.

our first Christmas / holiday season together as a PT cohort πŸ™‚

25 is enough. It’s late now and, like I said, the answer is sleep and prayer. The true list of great and small things I’ve learned is inexhaustible, because the fruits of my experience in DPT school will continue to appear throughout my life.

There is nothing but gratitude and joy looking back at these last three years. Good grief is an appropriate phrase to describe it.

Thank you to all who made this possible, and thank YOU for reading along throughout this journey. I appreciate you.

An Easy and Weird Way to Make a “Chopped” Salad

Moves. This workout was quick and dirty, and it was one of my favorites in a while!

10 minutes EMOM (every minute on the minute)

~Rest for a few minutes~

10 minutes EMOM

It doesn’t look like much on paper, but if you go heavy enough on the kettlebell and high enough with the box jumps, it gets spicy.

If you’re not sure what EMOM entails… Set a timer for 10 minutes (+ a few seconds of countdown to get ready). At 10:00, start the “even” exercise, completing it as fast as possible with good form. Once you’ve completed the assigned reps, you get to rest for the remainder of the minute. At 9:00, start the “odd” exercise and do the same thing. Etc…

These are all pretty high intensity moves, so that remaining time in the minute should be much needed! If not, first check form, then increase weight/height of box, then increase reps if still too easy.

“Chopped” salad. One of the many weird things I do is make chopped salads by hacking at all the ingredients together in a large container (e.g., last night I used my rice cooker pot because it’s the largest vessel I have right now) with kitchen scissors.

If you’ve ever been to a bougie chopped salad bar, they’ll often pour out all the ingredients onto a giant cutting board and use a curved axe-saw type of thing to chop-chop the salad so that you have perfectly proportioned bites vs. large, stemmy leaves that are unflattering to eat.

Well I don’t have those tools, but I still want the chopped salad experience sometimes. I do have a large container, and I do have kitchen scissors. So last night’s super easy salad at 9pm was spinach, avocado, deli ham, homemade maple mustard vinaigrette βž” dump into clean rice cooker pot βž” hack at all of it with kitchen shears while occasionally tossing.

I’ll post a video example on my instagram story today if you’re interested. And yes, I ate my salad straight out of the rice cooker pot.

p.s. I definitely ate more food after my salad, so don’t go thinking I eat 300 calories for dinner.

a blurry throwback photo of a “chopped” salad a la scissor hacking

Avocado smoothie. Speaking of avocados, I went out to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with my friends on Sunday, and John ordered an avocado smoothie for us to share. It is literally just ice, avocado, and some condensed milk. I loved it. It was like a light, refreshing guacamole milkshake that had a subtle but sure taste of the beloved creamy fruit. I recommend it the next time you’re out eating pho!

So tell me:

Do you like to make “chopped” salads at home? If so, how? Have you/would you ever try the kitchen scissors+bowl method?

Have you ever done an EMOM workout? Do you like them?

Have you ever tried an avocado smoothie? Do you like to put avocados IN your smoothies?

Day in the Life {Third Clinical of DPT School}

Whoopsie, I didn’t mean to duck out of here for so long. No excuses to share!

To get back into the swing of things, I think it’s fine time for another “day in the life” post, given that I am over halfway through my third of four clinicals here in physical therapy school. February is also over halfway over, which is somethin’ to chew on. Lent is coming!!

I am currently working four 10-hour days (Mon-Thurs), and each day looks a little different after I leave work, but here is a typical Monday.

a super close up selfie of me on my very first day of clinical (6 weeks ago)

5:40am β€” Wake up. Kick a leg off the bed, then the other, then (sometimes literally) hit the floor to say a morning offering prayer. Go to the bathroom.

6:00am β€” Make bed, get changed, and put on a small bit of makeup. Get my lunch box packed.

6:15am β€” Leave apartment and walk to a farther train station than necessary to get the blood pumping. I like to breathe in the fresh morning air and say a rosary.

6:40am β€” Arrive at the train station and get on the train.

7:00am β€” Take a shuttle from the train station to work building.

7:15am β€” Arrive at work. Change my upper garments because I always sweat walking to the train station.

7:30am β€” Start pre-charting while eating breakfast. On Mondays, we technically start work at 8:00am, but I like to get there slightly earlier to have more time to chart review and plan for the day.

8:15am β€” The first slot for seeing a patient. Some days it’s filled, others it’s not.

Occasionally, I’ll scarf down a nut bar if we have a free moment and if I’m really hungry between breakfast and lunch.

12:00pm β€” Lunch break! Depending on how many notes I need to write, I’ll either stay in my cubicle documenting while eating lunch or take some time to go down to the cafeteria where there is 10x more light and warmth than in the office.

1:00pm β€” Back to work. Technically, our lunch break is 30 minutes, so half is for actual eating and relaxing. The other half is for documenting.

4:00-5:00 pm β€” Sometime in here I’ll likely have a snack for the final push of the work day.

5:30pm β€” No more patients seen after this time, but time to finish up notes and prepare for the next day!

6:30pm β€” Leave work (if all goes as planned). I’ve been walking from work to the train station instead of waiting for the shuttle, unless it’s already there. It’s another nice way to unwind from work and just enjoy the fresh air (if it’s not raining, that is).

7:00pm β€” Take the train to the gym. Usually I just sit and stare to let my mind rest. Often will say some prayers. Occasionally I’ll listen to a podcast. John suggested I read a book when I’m commuting, which seems obvious, but I have not done it yet!

7:30pm β€” Arrive at the gym, change, and do a quick workout. Usually, since it’s quite late already, I do a warmup + 20 minute HIIT workout.

It’s a victory in and of itself for me to get my butt to the gym after a long day, and that’s coming from someone who likes to work out. Holla at everyone who struggles getting to the gym after a long day of work. The gym does not open early enough for me to go before work… but I doubt I’d go at 5am anyway, even if it was open at that time.

The worst part about the gym at this time of day is that many college students are like me and don’t go to the gym before classes; they go AFTER classes are done for the day. So it’s a mad house. Utter mad house. The beauty of a HIIT workout though is that I need limited space, so I usually gather myself in a corner and get to work.

8:30pm β€” Arrive home and eat dinner! Try to not occupy my mind too much, but maybe FaceTime a friend, maybe text some people.

9:15pm β€” Shower.

9:30pm β€” Pack food for the next day.

10:00pm β€” Soooo…. what I should be doing at this time is winding down, praying, reading, etc. But I often will be texting people or busying myself with pointless things that are unproductive at this hour of the night. But the goal is to be in bed around this time and getting my snooze on.

Recently I’ve been getting to sleep closer to 10:30-10:40pm, for whatever reason. I need to work on cleaning up that nighttime routine, let me tell ya.

That’s about it though! Some variations include bible study on Tuesday nights instead of the gym. Mondays and Wednesdays I start at 8am, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30am. Some nights I get off earlier from work. Wednesdays I’m often tired and don’t make it to the gym. Thursdays I usually try to push through to work out since I have Fridays off. It’s all just a general routine with lots of flexibility, for which I am grateful.

I hope all those who have today off (President’s Day in America) have lots of fun and relaxation! For those like me who are working today, I hope it’s still lots of fun πŸ™‚

So tell me:

What does your daily schedule look like generally?

What do you typically eat for breakfast?

Do you go to the gym before or after work?

Above All, Charity

Moves. 3 rounds:

  • 8 DB complexes (push-up βž” renegade row βž” kickstand deadlift βž” overhead press)
  • 10 supine leg drops to weighted toe touch
  • 15 kickstand deadlifts (left leg only for me)
  • 20 hip extension + 10 hip abduction in plank (right leg only for me)
  • 12 crazy Russian twists each side
  • 10 tabletop sit through

Then some pull-ups on the hang board (on the biggest jugs for easiest grip hehe).

Privilege vs. marginalization. On Thursday evening, my friends Elayne and Tina hosted a “Donuts & Discussion” for their practicum project on Diversity and Inclusion in the BU PT program. It was so simple yet so profound.

Two small groups of 7-9 people each.

In each group: 20-ish cards laid out on the table, each with one aspect of a person’s identity (e.g., SES, ethnicity/culture, language proficiency/having an “accent”, faith/religion, housing status, food availability, experience level, age, educational institution, family make-up, learning ability, criminal background, size/weight/appearance, mental health, nationality/citizenship, gender/sex, sexual orientation, health status, access to healthcare, etc.).

First round: Each person chooses and discusses +/- 3 aspects that make them feel privileged. I chose SES/housing/food availability, learning ability, and size/weight/appearance (I now would say that this last one is a point of both privilege and marginalization for me).

Second round: Each person chooses and discusses +/- 3 aspects that make them feel marginalized. I chose ethnicity/culture, language proficiency (not knowing anything except English as an Asian person), and religion.

It was a very raw, vulnerable discussion in which my eyes were opened to the oppression that many of my peers experience much more often than I ever see. I cried.

My takeaway: The golden rule is never, ever overrated. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and never let assumptions rule the way you act or speak around others. Really understand your own human experience through what others say about/to you; implement the best and root out the worst of it all in the way you treat others. Above all, charity (love).

Additionally, assuming the best intentions of others is a good practice that Tina and Elayne emphasized. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn about the importance and nuances of diversity and inclusion. Although it is never excusable to act on unjust biases, they exist in all of us, whether we realize it or not. So to love those who do not seem to know how to love is essential for the dissemination of this knowledge.

When I wish to increase this love in me, and when especially the devil tries to place before the eyes of my soul the faults of such and such a sister who is less attractive to me, I hasten to search out her virtues, her good intentions; I tell myself that even if I did see her fall once, she could easily have won a great number of victories which she is hiding through humility, and that even what appears to me as a fault can very easily be an act of virtue because of her intention….

– St. ThΓ©rΓ¨se of Lisieux

Sweetness. John kindly surprised me last night after Mass with my favorite (Boston) carrot cake from Flour bakery! What a Monday, man. Thank you, John.

Obscure favorite part of my day. For me, this is when I pack my overnight oats for the morning. I don’t like to call it ritualistic because oats are not a crutch food that I eat only because I know the macros (I have no idea what the macros or total calories are). I genuinely just really enjoy overnight oats and am 99.9% of the time excited to eat them. Packing them for the next morning is one of the last things I do at night, and it’s low key one of my favorite parts of the day. Quiet apartment (I usually do it pretty late), prepping my favorite breakfast, a break from my studies…

So tell me:

Which items from that list cause you to feel privileged?

Which items cause you to feel marginalized?

What is an obscure favorite part of your day?

Day in the Life Vlog: My 6th Year in Boston!

Also known as my 11th (and hopefully final) semester of classes at Boston University!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I filmed my St. Louis day in the life vlog, but this seems to be the most efficient way for me to share my life with you these days.

That being said, I filmed this vlog a month ago and am nowΒ justΒ getting it to you. Whoops. This video still shows a pretty typical day though!

Here is the link if that embedded video isn’t showing up.

I still love reading / watching day in the life posts, so I’m hoping you do too πŸ™‚ Enjoy and have a great Columbus day if you have a day off here in America!

So tell me:

What have your days looked like recently?

Have you ever injured yourself before a big race / sporting event?

Do you ever eat hodgepodge meals?