On Competition

Competition within a physical therapy program irritates me because it isn’t healthy, and it isn’t necessary at this level of education. My physical therapy cohorts are all hard-workers, they all care about mastering the material to hopefully become great physical therapists.  However, there are a few that are overly competitive.

I think it’s childish to see a guy walk up to one of the more timid girls, immediately declare that he received an “A” on the last exam, and bluntly ask for her grade.  It might as well be phrased, “Are you dumber or smarter than me? And can you say it loud so that everyone can hear?” I’ve also heard people guessing who in the program would drop out. How much more mean-spirited can you get? This isn’t a zero-sum game: a classmate’s good performance isn’t detrimental to you.

Competition to drive your own performance is all well and good.  But at the doctorate level, most people I’ve encountered are driven by their own goals.  Not by an insecure want to validate their intellect.  I can only speak for my program, but my cohorts go hard.  The diligence and hard work I’ve seen has surprised me.

I would like to see everyone make it through the program. It took hard work to get in the doors, and I can already tell it’ll take hard work to get out. So it would be a shame to see someone falter. During orientation, a professor talked briefly about how there’s no more competition: we’ve already made it into the program. It confused me at the time and now I understand why it was addressed.

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