It’s been a while. A really long while. Like, 2 months’ while. Time flies when you’re REALLY CONFUSED AND OVERWHELMED.
To make a long story somewhat less long, there were many things over the past month or so that led me to a dark place of doubt, worry, and unreasonable feelings of shittiness. One of these things was my internship. My first 2-3 weeks (of 10-12 hours in the clinic 5 days/wk) were a huge struggle. I don’t even want to go into detail and relive it. I knew this internship was known to be one of the most challenging of our options, and that my CI is this super genius doctor fellow clinician who would push me to be my best. However, I was not prepared to learn how UNPREPARED school had made us for these clinicals. On the somewhat bright side, it wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just our program - it seems to be a deficit in many DPT programs my CI has seen that students are not being trained to critically think and differentially diagnose on a doctoral level.
When they say the majority of what you learn as a PT happens in the clinic, THEY REALLY MEAN IT.
The discouraging part of each day was that I didn’t know I could suck at something SO BADLY, especially something I had chosen to do for the rest of my life. I hated lying to people whenever they asked me how my day was going or how I was liking my internship.
I think I would have been able to get through these rough weeks with an “it’s tough but worth it for my future” attitude, but I think what broke me was the combination of this great big elephant of “you suck at life” with other personal problems that took my self esteem for a bad turn. For a couple of weeks I lost my appetite, and exercise no longer made me happy.
But church made me happy. Singing in the choir made me happy. Unyielding support from Chaplain & friends pulled me through.
And prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.
I am now happily filling a hungry stomach 3 times per day and anxious to get into my running shoes again. I am practicing happy thoughts and not letting my insecurities bring me down. I am getting better at evaluating, treating, and progressing patients everyday. My CI and I went over my midterm CPI (evaluation of my performance in different categories - professional behavior, safety, clinical reasoning, etc.) - and I am either where I’m supposed to be or exceeding expectations. He thinks I’m doing a good job and we both agree on the areas I need to improve. That was a big relief.
Why did I share this somewhat less long story?
First, not everyone’s clinical rotations will be all hunky dory and everything you’ve ever dreamed. If your CI really wants you to learn, it will be hard. My CI said it is normal and expected to struggle the first couple of weeks. Your brain and emotions will be frustrated. It is normal to have doubts. I am not the only one in my class who thought about other careers in which I would have done a better job. Let me tell you: in addition to being a single Catholic female between the ages of 18-40, with no dependent children, another prerequisite to becoming a nun is having no debt.
I guess I won’t be getting myself to a nunnery anytime soon.
Second, support systems are life savers. I have a tendency to try to get through things on my own because I don’t like to bother people with my problems. But there’s no way I would have made it without my friends and Chaplain’s fairy godmother-like wisdom. No way.
Third, gratitude. Something I didn’t mention earlier was that although I wasn’t blogging, I started writing things on Post-It notes to make myself feel better at the end of the day. It helped.