Students! We need to talk about burnout

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Time flies..It’s crazy to think I graduated with my DPT one year ago which means I started PT school four years ago!!

Over the years, I have been able to grow, not only as a clinician but as a person. I have been able to reflect on so many experiences which has allowed me to learn & move forward.

Thinking of the students I have been helping whether Pre PT or current PT students, it has been heartbreaking hearing about overwhelming competitiveness or burnout. My advice to them always revolves around one theme.

𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐞.

Real talk:

My first year, I lost myself, lost my mind. I was the definition of burnt out & didn’t even realize it at first. I was crying over everything & kept having meltdowns. I was never so stressed out in my life. This was everything I worked for, to get to this moment, why was I having such a hard time dealing with it!? I survived a rigorous science honors program in HS, did pretty well in undergrad without doing much…also why does PT school decide to have all of the tests, projects & presentations in one week?!

After surviving first year & giving myself a bald spot (wish I was kidding haha), I completely lost sight of why I was in this program and why I chose to become a PT.⁣

It is SO easy to get lost in the tests, quizzes, projects, papers, and practicals when you’re in the midst of the semester and I’m sure that it is even harder now with everything online.

Think of how much schooling we have been through just to get to this point of being a PT student! You always want to strive & be the best. [And that shouldn’t stop.]

But… you should remember, now is your time to be selfish. Yes, we’re in a profession to help others but while you’re in school, while you’re in these years as a student, continuously learning, be selfish.

Don’t worry about a 4.0 or how you compare to your classmates, don’t worry about how other people are studying, don’t worry about what clinicals everyone else is doing, what certifications some are getting.


𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐞.

Find the best way you study – Groups? Individual? Powerpoints? Hand written notes? Are you able to go out on the weekends or to the gym or do you need to focus all of your attention on studying when you have an upcoming test?

Find what YOU enjoy – APTA member? CSCS certification? Volunteering or other extracurriculars?
Go where you want – Pediatrics? Acute Care? Ortho? Neuro?

What you do in PT school will help determine the type of clinician you want to be. These are the years that will help you grow & find your passions.

Focus on you, don’t worry about everyone else…

In the end it’s you that needs to graduate & pass your boards. And then it’s YOU & the patient – not your classmates or professors or clinical instructor.

𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐞.

Looking back, as we began to learn more clinical based courses as well as start our first clinical, I started to realize these things for myself. I was finding what I truly was passionate about and how I wanted to achieve my future goals.

Working with patients really got me going. Being able to help them regain their function and realize their body’s potential was my why & I was FINALLY able to practice everything I have learned! It was only uphill from here!⁣

If you feel like you’re still struggling, know you are NOT alone.


Treat YO SELF.

Don’t get study guilt.⁣

Remember YOUR why.⁣

Self care is KEY.⁣

Seek help if you need.⁣

Your parents, your friends, your significant others most likely won’t understand what you are going through.⁣


Find yourself a group of classmates that you know have your back (shoutout to mine that literally saved my butt)

Don’t lose sight of the future – you will make it through.

Your patients are waiting.


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About the Author


Stephanie D’Angelo, PT, DPT

I’m Stephanie, a DPT working in Acute Care in NYC. Yup, mid pandemic with less than 6 months under my belt. I graduated June 2019 with my doctorate and have yet to look back. This past year has been a whirlwind. I started using social media to talk about all things new grad & acute care since no one else seems to do that. Having this platform has allowed me to have more of a voice, to help future and current students realize there is an ever changing, ever growing field they should be excited to be a part of, with some harsh realities of course. I am enjoying the connections made and getting to know so many more people in the profession. I can't wait to see what the future holds. To get to better know me and the resources I can afford you, check out my instagram (@dpt.steph) or website I am more than happy to help anyone, feel free to DM me on Instagram or email me at [email protected]

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