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Grades in PT School

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by MJHUSKERS2, Apr 27, 2012.

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  1. MJHUSKERS2

    MJHUSKERS2

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    Hi,
    I've been away from this site ever since I got admitted to PT school and I am currently finishing up my second year. So long that I had to make a new name because I forgot my password. I've done well overall, my GPA is sitting around 3.5 overall with a few rough patches along the way. However, I have been really going downhill lately towards the end of this last semester in my second year. I received 2 C's on sequential exam grades (2 different classes) this week, putting me at the bottom of my class for those 2 exams after running the descriptives, I've never been that low.


    In other words, I'm really questioning things right now. Don't get me wrong, I love PT, but the last thing I want to do is become a bad PT. I haven't had any problems thus far, besides a few C's on exams every once in a while. Anyways, I would love to hear feedback from anyone else who has had similar struggles or anyone with honest feedback.



    Thanks to anyone who takes the time to respond because I'll be checking back.
  2. hujee

    hujee

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    I am also a second year student. I had really low motivation last trimester. I've had a lot of personal things happen recently that made school seem rather .... trivial. I failed a practical exam (by one point) and felt rather worthless, but I managed to keep my course grade at a B. The trimester is over and I am on a clinical now. I think it's easy to lose track when in classes.... You know this is what you want to do, have worked very hard to get where you are and I'm sure will be a great therapist once you're out there.

    I think it is sort of unfair that your program ranks you and lets you know where you stand grade-wise - my program promoted collaboration and encouragement among students from day 1, told us we weren't ranked based on grades and that we just had to pass (and maintain GPA requirement). That mindset really helped - when I told classmates I had failed the exam they invited me to practice with them, talked through what happened with me, etc. I understand doing poorly can get you down, but ultimately, it's getting through school and applying what you know (and learning a lot more!!) when in the clinic that really matters.
  3. blewis15

    blewis15

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    Every PT I have talked to has said the same thing about your knowledge coming out of PT school, "You come out of PT school thinking you know it all, but the reality is that you don't. The real learning takes place when you graduate school, and are finally working in the field."

    You aren't going to be a bad PT if you get a few C's here and there. Your GPA doesn't determine the caliber of PT you will become down the road.
  4. ptootles

    ptootles DPT

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    I will be starting my 2nd year in a few weeks and admit that I stress a little too much about my grades. I'm doing really well so far but probably focus on 'the numbers' too much. There was another thread on here not long ago on the subject of grades and if I recall, the concensus was that the grades were less important than understanding of the material. Of course, all schools have minimum GPA's you have to maintain to stay in the progam but getting all A's is secondary to really grasping what you're being taught.

    Our school doesn't rank students either which I appreciate. While it's sometimes comforting to know that, if I did poorly on an exam, others struggled with it too, I don't think ranking students is a good idea.
  5. TheOx777

    TheOx777 Moderator Emeritus

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    I think this is such a fascinating topic! If you plan on doing a residency or more formal education after your DPT then grades will probably matter more than an individual who is not pursuing such endeavors. Also, I am not advocating that one should not try to excel, but the malignancy often associated with achieving high grades calls into question how important a high GPA really is.

    SoapBox:

    Grades matter, only to the extent to which they can be correlated to one's mastery of the material. Quite frankly, I do not know that this is ever the case. Case in point: who would you want to be your anatomy or biomechanics professor? A student who received a 98% and never looks at the material again after graduating or a student who received an 87% yet spends extra time training to become an expert on that subject matter. There are those who can master the material in 1 or 2 go rounds, but they typically represent the 99.9%, while the others who master the material spend countless time "beating at their craft". Ultimately this will take years! This is just my humble opinion; which is supported by a fairly large body of literature. Case in point: many people did well in Gross Anatomy at our program, yet when it was time to correlate that to Biomechanics(it seemed that a lot of ppl. had forgotten their Os/Is and how anatomical structure dictated biomechanics function).

    An upperclassmen said that he put his GPA on his resume for a clinical rotation, and the CI promptly told him to remove it. The own director of my program has said on several occasions that students with the highest GPAs are often not the ones who do the best in the clinic. I know it seems counterintuitive, but being able to conceptualize and clinically apply the material is >>>>>than having a 4.0!
  6. Azimuthal

    Azimuthal Ninja Zombie Slayer

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    Industrial psychologists have found no correlation between GPA and work performance, if that makes you feel better.
  7. goyo1010

    goyo1010 Muahahaha

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    Exactly. Grades do matter, but only to a certain extent. Bs are completely fine, and As are for some of us overachievers. What matters is if you've learned the material, not just memorized then regurgitated then forgot. However, if you are getting Cs then that is reflective of how much you understand the material. Different factors may have contributed to your getting a C, so don't sweat it! Your grades do not necessarily define you as a PT; it is only part of the equation to becoming a good PT.

    As a poster mentioned earlier, you really don't learn everything from texts and from class--you learn them in the clinic, through your clinical rotations and after you graduate and you're a legit clinician. Being a PT is a continuous education, you learn everyday. So, don't get discouraged if you just got two Cs. Reflect on why things have been "going downhill" towards the end of the semester, and see if it is amendable.


    Could you cite a source, and do you remember which occupation setting they studied, and whether it's generalizable to healthcare professions?
  8. NewTestament

    NewTestament

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    The thing is, if you get Cs because you slack off and don't try your best (I'm not saying you are), then what are the chances you'll do your best in the clinic, or in any other position in life? Mediocrity can quickly become a habit.

    Kevin
  9. MJHUSKERS2

    MJHUSKERS2

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    Literally has nothing to do with what you said.....

    Thank you all for the most part.
  10. Azimuthal

    Azimuthal Ninja Zombie Slayer

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    My HR professor referenced Academic and occupational performance: A quantitative synthesis. Samson, Gordon E.; Graue, M. Elizabeth; Weinstein, Thomas; Walberg, Herbert J.

    I vaguely remember a mention of GPA and MD occupational performance.
  11. goyo1010

    goyo1010 Muahahaha

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    Yeah, just read it. However, the study was from 1984 and the meta-analysis were for studies up to 1950... Educational paradigms have dramatically changed since then, in addition to occupational circumstances also shifting and changing. I'm not sure how valid that study is now.

    Wish that's how it is though! Would be pretty awesome.
  12. Fiveoboy11

    Fiveoboy11

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    I generally disagree that there is no association between grades in PT school and actual performance as a PT throughout ones career. I think there would be a greater link between effort on the part of a student to career performance vs actual grades. Some students are just better test takers, etc. There are circumstances where students who don't necessarily put much effort into training do better than students who try very hard but don't necessarily master testing.

    So, in summary greater effort = better clinician. This is my opinion and no I don't have any evidence to support it.
  13. PTapp

    PTapp DPT

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    I am by no means a top 10% student in my class. My current GPA after completing all the coursework for DPT is 3.46 (and expecting 6 credits of As which should make it 3.49 or 3.5). In 3 of my clinicals (4th one is coming up), CIs put great emphasis on professionalism and communication. In my last clinical, I got beyond entry level in 50% if categories if not more. The main reason why I was rated that high was not only because of my grades or great amount of knowledge in a certain setting but because I was open to constructive criticism, was professional, great with patients, and paid great attention to professional development (did lots of research during clinicals, attended CSM and NYPTA conferences and my CI knew). I still had good clinical skills, but all of the above factors made the most impact in CPI Web. Hope that gives you guys an idea.
  14. HHCPT

    HHCPT

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    Sometimes, people interact better with their patients and have great hands-on skills and bedside manners. That person may not have the best memory for all the muscle innervations or special tests, etc... Someone could be a terrible test-taker but a wonderful therapist. I'd rather be treated by someone who loves his/her patients and can safely treat them, but has terrible grades, versus someone who has a 4.0 GPA but no people-skills, no bedside manners... etc...
  15. MJHUSKERS2

    MJHUSKERS2

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    I agree. Thank you.
  16. ptootles

    ptootles DPT

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    Lou Holtz once said (paraphrasing), "It doesn't matter if you graduated first in your class or last, they will still call you Doctor." I know, I know, I don't want to start the debate about whether or not a DPT qualifies you to be called "Doctor" - I mention that quote by way of supporting HHCPT's post that grades, while important, aren't the only thing that makes a good PT.
  17. goyo1010

    goyo1010 Muahahaha

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    Not sure about the "terrible grades" part... Not all tests are written exams. Other factors play into grades, such as practical exams, those that are administered both in school and in the clinical setting during Clinical Education portions of the curriculum. If the student is failing or doing terribly in class, how well does that person know the theory that will be applied in the clinical setting? And if the student is also doing poorly during practical examination, how well will that person do in the clinical setting, dealing with more patients?

    I agree that not all 4.0 students in healthcare professions will become the "best" providers, but if the student is doing terrible in school, supposedly learning a lot of what's behind that profession, would I want that person treating me? Would you want a surgeon who knows where things are supposed to be exceptionally well, or a surgeon who maybe knows where this and that is? Same with a PT, I'd like a PT who knows his or her stuff, but is also personable and effective in patient-provider communication. There is a reason for the high standards that are held in med, dental, pharm, PT school, etc.

    As a personal opinion, I'd like to be taken care of by PTs who did better than "terrible" in PT school.
  18. jesspt

    jesspt

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    Please define wonderful.
  19. Fiveoboy11

    Fiveoboy11

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    Great point. Emotionally overtoned labels like this and "amazing" irritate me. I personally would prefer someone from my family be working with a PT who is evidence informed, thorough and clinically skilled versus some game show host, anectdote and placebo loving, bedside mannered, loving and "wonderful" therapist.
  20. jesspt

    jesspt

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    Agreed. This type of fluffy, touchy-feely garbage drives me crazy. We are a profession trying to fully invest itself in science, yet continue to have members who are convinced we just need to be loving, likeable, "wonderful" cheerleaders.


    Ugh.
    Last edited: May 19, 2012
  21. goyo1010

    goyo1010 Muahahaha

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    lol
  22. allornothing

    allornothing

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    My Mom is an OT and she said that back during school there was one girl who was a real know-it-all and always got As on her exams. However, when it came time for boards, she was the only one to fail (and twice at that before finally passing). So grades aren't everything if you can't pass your boards anyways. Need to have good hands on skill too
  23. Nailey13

    Nailey13

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    But holding out hope that your "superior" clinical skills will save you as stupid idea as I've ever heard. This is really starting to piss me off. Work hard - as hard as you effing can - to be the best IN ALL DOMAINS OF PT SCHOOL and let the chips fall where they may. Those who are head and shoulders above everyone else (and who actually give a damn) will distinguish themselves.
  24. Fiveoboy11

    Fiveoboy11

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    lol, i like the passion right there
  25. jesspt

    jesspt

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    I agree that grades aren't everything - obviously. PT is a profession which requires social interaction with your clients on a professional level.

    By the way, where's the "hands on" section of the NPTE?
  26. jesspt

    jesspt

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    Is it as stupid an idea as the the ideas among some on this thread who seem to feel that all it takes is the ability to be friendly and interact compassionately in order to be a "wonderful" therapist?

    For the record, I have never said that social skills aren't helpful when one starts treating patients, just that it can't be the only skill that one possesses.

    Let me put it another way: If a PT has good clinical reasoning skills, a good understanding of the science behind physical therapy interventions, and can just carry on a polite conversation they can become an excellent physical therapist, because they have the most important aspects of clinical care that anyone can posses - knowledge and clinical/critical reasoning. They do not NEED to be overly empathetic, compassionate, insert touchy-feely word here.

    If a PT has empathy, compassion, and good social skills alone, they WILL NEVER become a therapist that is worth a damn, because they lack the necessary basic skills, despite the fact that their patients (and possibly co-workers) will love them.

    This is all I have ever said.

    Now, we can discuss whether we thinks grades are a good scoring rubric for critical reasoning and scientific knowledge if you would like.

    And Nailey 13, let's hope that I'm right and that good people skills are not totally necessary for clinical success, because if your interactions on this professional message board are any indication, you've got a ways to go.
  27. Nailey13

    Nailey13

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    You misunderstand me, JessPT. I am in total agreement with you on this point. What upsets me is thread after thread of asking whether academic achievement is all that important for PT school (whether before in one's prerequisite classes or during PT school itself). If you can't tell, I value high academic achievement, but more importantly mastery within a given discipline. While there will always be cases where someone has achieved the latter without the former, do we really want to make that the model of how to succeed?

    If anything, I've found myself nodding along to all your posts in this thread and I'm sorry if you thought my ire was directed at you.
  28. jesspt

    jesspt

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    My apologies.
  29. PTapp

    PTapp DPT

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    Who said both grades and clinical skills didn't matter? They both do. Without good grades, we wouldn't be able to make it to PT school, without good grades in PT school, we wouldn't be able to graduate and without the combo of good grades + good clinical skills + social skills, no one would be able to pass their clinicals. No need to over-analyze this stuff. Someone might have said "wonderful therapist", however you can't just assume that he or she meant in a way you don't like.

    And for the record, we all need to be loving, likable and WONDERFUL! Everyone will have their bad days, but you also need to be an approachable therapist on top of good clinical skills if you want your patients to come to you. Agree or disagree, doesn't really matter to me. I like the way I am in the clinic.
  30. MJHUSKERS2

    MJHUSKERS2

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    Never meant for this thread to get into such detail...No worries, I got A's on the finals and a good GPA...

    Personally, I don't think GPA matters at all. Some schools could be easier and some harder, how do you account for that? That's all this thread was meant to be...not analyzing the fine print. Thanks though, I actually read every post on here. I just say anyone out there who doesn't like their GPA...don't sweat it. As long as you're understanding what's going on, then you'll be fine. There is such a thing as good test takers, I'm not one of them, but I understand the material.

    Thanks again everyone.

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