By: Mathew Hilton, MS, SPT
University of Delaware Physical Therapy
For some students, application season has ended and they may be celebrating an acceptance to pursue a health profession. For others, the application season may just be getting started. While this process may seem inevitably stressful, I want to let you know a few things to help you keep this process in perspective:
1. It’s Normal to Feel Nervous
The admissions process is undoubtedly competitive for all healthcare professionals. As you assemble your admissions materials, it’s very typical to question each part of your application
Is my GPA high enough?
Is my grade in that class going to be a deal-breaker?
Do I have enough experience?
If you’re applying in this cycle, it’s important to recognize what you can and cannot change. Focus on the parts of the application that you can still change: pending classes, pending standardized tests and the personal statement. By focusing on these items, you can avoid stressing yourself out and commit your best effort to these crucial parts of your application.
2. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
Along with focusing on the things you can change, this also means not trying to consider how you stack up against other individuals. It’s tempting--I know. When you meet that student who made it into the program, you want to ask, “so what was your GPA?” Or, “how many clinical hours did you have?”
Even if their numbers are very high or very low, their numbers represent one data point that contribute to the class’s average statistics. Yes, pay attention to the averages, but don’t let your perception of your candidacy be shaped by the statistics of one or two accepted students.
3. Success is Not a Reflection of Talent
As you step back and think about your path as a whole, just remember that success is not a reflection of talent, intelligence or socioeconomic status. In a widely-viewed TED Talk, researcher Angela Duckworth discusses that the one variable that is able to predict future success is grit, or one's “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
While your path to becoming a healthcare professional may take longer than others, don’t quit. Everyone will face challenges at some point along their academic and professional journey. The key is to persevere through adversity by remembering why you’re on this path.
4. Reflect on Your Passion
Why do you want to become a healthcare professional? Was there a certain patient whose life was changed by receiving care? Was there a certain healthcare professional who modeled for you the qualities of an excellent clinician?
Regardless of what drives you, keep these thoughts fresh in your mind, not only to help you with your personal statement, but to remind yourself that the path is undoubtedly worth the challenge.