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The Wait: Anxiety After the NPTE


As I reflect on my life, I relish in the fact that everything I’m not, made me everything I am. I am a compilation of all my failures and success I have experienced. I can remember my fears vividly; they appeared to be powerful. Although powerful, they only had as much power as I allowed them to have. The things that cripple us and put us in a bind appear larger than life itself. One of the many things that we allow to overpower us sometimes is anxiety. We get anxiety over that big job interview, that first date, or in this case, the N.P.T.E. Is it possible that all your hard work was for nothing? Could you have studied hard and not passed the exam? Well, yes and no in all honesty. No, your hard work was not in vain. Yes, it is possible you studied hard and still didn’t pass the exam. You just took the exam and your mind is flooded with thoughts of “what’s next?” Before you dwell in that for too long, let’s take a step back.


Sometimes it’s important to get lost in the moment, but this time is different. This is one of the times where I want to encourage you to get lost in the past. Look at how far you’ve come in your schooling and look how far you’ve come in life in general. Regardless of whether you passed the N.P.T.E. or not, you have come a long way and you have so much further to go. As human beings, we are prone to error. We are prone to fixating ourselves on the things that we simply can’t control. It makes sense that if we stopped this way of thinking we would be unstoppable. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. The power that we have is truly unfathomable. I say all this to say don’t focus on what you can’t control. This is a good way to waste time as well as energy.


After you took the exam, your thoughts should be directed on what you can control. In every circumstance, there is a win to gain. Even when I lose I still win, and so do you. Some of the best lessons come in our failures. You need to assess the situation for what it is 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 test. Don’t psych yourself out and realize that the N.P.T.E. does not define you. This exam is just another obstacle on the way to becoming a licensed clinician. I need you to understand something. Just because you passed the exam this does not mean you will be a good physical therapist. If you failed it, this does not mean that you will be a bad physical therapist. The real work begins after you are licensed and are treating patients within the clinic or the hospital.


These things are key to helping you realize your potential and realigning your focus. It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind to help quiet the storm raging on within our minds. I know it is difficult to play the waiting game and anxiety settles in, but this is not your first rodeo. 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 has primed you to be able to get through this last wait while you’re in school. You took your N.P.T.E. and now it’s time to relax. I want to encourage you. I encourage you to take time to enjoy doing the things you put on hold to focus on studying. Go ahead and reward yourself for all your hard work. You are one step closer to your dream, so let’s make sure you keep moving in the right direction from here on out. Always forward, never backwards. 




Karl Bourne, Lead Blog Writer