Either you jumped for joy, screeched like a banshee (like I did), ran like a crazy monkey around the house (like I did) or froze with happiness while reading that one sweet word on the computer screen.
After hours and hours of reading, reviewing, analyzing and doing numerous practice examinations, you finally reap the rewards of all your hardwork.
I know I cried when I passed the NPTE. Becoming a Physical Therapist in the United States was my ticket to financial independence from being a single mom back then.
If you are like me, a foreigned trained Physical therapist. You still have to go through some hoops after passing the NPTE. And if you are like me, who lived in The Philippines and started the process from there; your journey isn’t over yet.
In my case, I had a direct employer who came to The Philippines twice a year who would take me under their wing after I passed the NPTE. I have spoken to them even before I had my NPTE scheduled. So, when I notified them that I finally made it! They started my process in getting an H1B visa and an H4 dependent visa for my son.
I passed the NPTE in May 2011, but I was granted my H1B visa in September 2012, almost a year and a half later. Well my case is different too, I passed under NYSED and had to endorse my license to Washington – and that took 7 months if I am not mistaken. It was a long wait, but I am glad that it all happened the way that it did.
I flew to Salt Lake City first, where my employer’s headquarters was and then had to spend 10 days there while undergoing orientation and getting my social security number.
The VP of recruitment came along with his assistant who picked me up at the airport and asked me if I drive in Manila. So, when I said yes, he said, “If you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere.”
The following day I was back in the airport picking up a rental car for me to use. I had an awesome time driving around Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah – with all directions listed in a small notebook! I didn’t have a GPS-enabled phone then.
Turns out that my company usually flies in a group of therapist at a time. I was by my lonesome during my time. It actually got a little lonely – and to top it all off – I had to leave Sky in The Philippines for a while.
After my 10 days, I flew from Salt Lake City to Pasco, WA. And started work after 1-2 days of shadowing another Physical Therapist.
The first year was the hardest – especially the first few months. First of all, I didn’t know sh*t about documenting, computers are just a pain in the ass, and then there are so many times that I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing for my patients. The healthcare system is so different from what I was accustomed to – becoming a Physical Therapist in the beginning is not easy at all.
When I did my first evaluation, it took a million years to finish the documentation and the assessment. I didn’t know what questions to ask, I stuttered one too many times. It was one patient and it took me 3-4 hours to finish everything. One patient.
And I felt like a complete idiot, which led to many sleepless nights of crying and trying to cram whatever information I can, to make me become a better Physical Therapist the following day. And to top it all of, I was working in a Skilled Nursing Facility where the caseload was high at that time and I was working 9-12 hour days. I was so miserable at one point, I almost bought a ticket back to The Philippines a year into working there.
But you know what? It becomes easier. When I am stumped on something, I learned to accept the fact that I don’t know everything and I have to research on it and see what I can do for the next day. I can do evaluations almost at autopilot now, but still trying to see and assess how I can help the patient get back on his feet again.
Passing the NPTE was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I know at one point you might question yourself when you find yourself homesick and getting swamped with paperwork and dealing with a lot of difficult people, whether it be your patient or your co-worker. But you will adapt, you will cry, you will laugh and most of all you will have integrity with the work that you do.
And that is why you are a Physical Therapist.