There’s no denying that studying for and then taking the PT exam can be an anxious experience. I started the PT Hustle to help PT students prepare for, gain the confidence to take, and dominate the NPTE but there’s something else we need to talk about, something else you need to know about the PT exam: the anxiety doesn’t always stop once you put the pencil down on the standardized test! You have to successfully manage anxiety after the PT exam too, as you await your NPTE results.
Anxiety Can Overpower Us
As I reflect on my life, I relish in the fact that everything I am not has made me everything I am. In a real sense, I’m a compilation album of all the failures and successes I’ve experienced. It’s very likely that the same is true for you. I can remember my fears vividly and they had tremendous power over me because I allowed them to have that power. The things that cripple us and put us in a bind often appear larger than life itself and one of the many things that we allow to overpower us is anxiety. We get anxious over a variety of things: the big job interview, that first date, or in this case, the PT exam and waiting for the NPTE results!
You just took the PT exam and may be thinking, “Is it possible that all my hard work was for nothing?” and “Have I studied hard and still not passed the exam?” Well, yes and no in all honesty. No, your hard work was not in vain but yes, it’s possible that you studied hard and still didn’t pass the exam.
Right now, your mind might be flooded with thoughts of “what’s next?” But, before you dwell on that for too long, let’s take a step back.
Get Lost In The Past To Move Forward
Sometimes it’s important to get lost in the current moment, but this time is different. This is one of the times where I want to encourage you to get lost in the past. To gain perspective, take a moment to look at how far you’ve come in your schooling and how far you’ve come in life in general. You’re a success story still being written! Regardless of whether or not you passed the PT exam, you have come a long way and that should be celebrated. By getting lost in your past and in your own specific journey, you’ll be better placed to move forward successfully and with less anxiety.
As human beings, we’re prone to error. We’re prone to fixating on the things that we can’t control. It makes sense that if we stopped this way of thinking we would be unstoppable. What I have learned is that by and large, our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. No, instead, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure! The power we have is truly unfathomable. I say all this to say, don’t focus on what you can’t control! Doing so is a waste of time and energy.
Control What You Can Control
After taking the PT exam, as you await your NPTE results, your thoughts should be directed only on what you can control.
No matter what life dishes out, there is a win to gain. By this I mean, even when you lose you can still win because some of the best lessons come from our failures. You have control over how you process both your successes and your failures but you need to assess the situation for what it’s worth. Centralize your thoughts on the things that you could have done better during the test. Also, focus on the things that you could have done better in terms of your preparation for the PT exam. Don’t psych yourself out! Simply realize that the PT exam does not define you; this test is just another obstacle on the way to becoming a licensed clinician.
I need you to understand something about your NPTE results: passing the PT exam doesn’t mean you’ll be a good physical therapist. And if you failed it this time, well that does not mean that you will be a bad physical therapist! You can take the test again and the PT Hustle can help you dominate it next time. Either way, the real work begins after you’re licensed and are treating patients within a clinic or the hospital.
Playing The Waiting Game
I hope that these things will help you realize your potential and realign your focus as you wait for your NPTE results. It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind to help quiet the storm raging within your mind. I know it’s difficult to play the waiting game because the longer the wait, the more time anxiety has to settle in, but this is not your first rodeo! Not in the least! You had to wait to get into your undergraduate program. You had to wait to get an interview for PT school. And you had to wait to gain admission into the program. All of this waiting has primed you to get through this final stage of the waiting game.
You took your PT exam, now it’s time to relax!
I encourage you now to take some time to enjoy doing the things you love, the things you put on hold while studying for the PT exam. Reward yourself for all your hard work! Feeling good and enjoying life may help to ease your anxiety.
You are now one step closer to your dream, one step closer to living the PT life and earning a PT salary. You made it so far, now treat yourself. Let’s make sure you are energized and anxiety-free as you keep moving in the right direction from here on out. Always forward, never backwards!