Hey everyone! This blog post is centered around the big exam I was studying for with a new baby. Crazy? Maybe. Good idea? Yup!
In July I started to study for the final step of my CAMPT certification. CAMPT stands for the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy and FCAMPT physiotherapists are Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy. It’s a mouthful, I know, and I have been working towards this certification for the past nine years. My friends often jokingly comment, “you’re always studying for something”. This is what I have been building up towards. The fastest someone can complete this diploma would be five years as the courses are offered twice a year in Ontario. There are five levels. Many complete Level 1 following their completion of physiotherapy school or write it during their last term as it heavily based on theory. I had decided to take a year off after completing six consecutive years of university and twenty years of school and began the process in the fall of 2010.
Next it was off to Level 2 and Level 3. Both of these levels are broken down into the upper and lower quadrants of your body. Level 2: upper and lower. Level 3: upper and lower. Level 2’s are broken down over four weekends and Level 3’s are over three weekends. Participating in these courses make for a long work week as you are in course Friday – Sunday only to return to work on Monday. Each of these courses take place over a period of three to four months (one weekend a month on average). There are written exams on the final weekend of the Level 2 and Level 3 courses.
I completed my Levels 2’s in two years to give myself one course a year to complete. Got married and then went full speed ahead with my Level 3’s and completed them both in the same year. If you are doing the math, I’m now in the fall/winter of 2013. What else happened in the winter of 2013? Oh yeah, CDH1 mutation diagnosis. Followed by total gastrectomy in spring of 2014.
Needless to say, I stopped my studies to focus on recovery. I debated whether or not I should carry on through my education path as a large practical exam follows the completion of your Level 3’s focusing on ALL material from previous courses. This also involves 60 hours of clinical mentorship which is completed in your own time outside of work.
I decided that it only made sense to get back into it and signed up for the Intermediate Practical Exam. So back onto the study train I went taking a prep course during the fall/winter of 2016 as well as practicing with a colleague every Saturday afternoon from November 2016 to April 2017. Recall that during March – April of 2017, I also went through IVF with PGS and PGD to try prevent the gene from being passed to future generations. I challenged the Intermediate Practical Exam in April of 2017 and thankfully I passed.
So why stop there? Onto Level 4 in the fall of 2017 and Level 5 in the winter of 2018. Each of these courses are completed over two weekends. In order to complete the whole process, there is a big, big exam (Advanced Practical Exam) in two parts. Part one is a written exam that takes about six hours to complete (three hour multiple choice and three hour case study) followed by a two hour practical exam which occurs a couple months later. This exam is based on ALL of the material from level 1-5. It is offered annually in the fall.
I took a prep course in summer of 2018, practiced with colleagues on weekends for the practical, and challenged the exam (while pregnant) in fall of 2018. Fortunately, I passed 2/3 components but unfortunately, I incompleted the multiple choice portion. Multiple choices exams have been my nemesis since undergrad. This meant the next time I could attempt this exam would be fall of 2019. Doing the math in my head, I realized that I would have a young baby should I decide to attempt this exam a second time.
After serious consideration, I decided to register for the exam when registration opened in June this year. At that time, I had a two month old. Could I do it? Would it be too much? There was really no optimal time to complete this exam going forward but I wasn’t about to give up on my many years working towards this certification. My family and friends highly encouraged it and agreed to help me out where ever they could. So no time but the present, I signed up and started studying in July.
This is where I really learned to embrace “go with the flow”. It has been a difficult lesson to learn. I am a person who likes to make a solid schedule and keep to the study plan. But I quickly learned, this isn’t possible with a newborn. You’re on his schedule. So for three months, I left my books sprawled out all over our kitchen table and when our baby napped, I hit the books. When he went to bed, I was back at it. The condition of my home deteriorated a little but thanks to my husband, mom and mother in law, it didn’t look like newborn baby chaos.
On Saturday Sept 21st, I completed the exam. Obviously, I hope I passed it (I won’t know until the new year). However, if I don’t complete it, I am happy I went through the process with a baby. It kept me focused on something I was doing for me. It helped me feel less isolated during those early months when your baby is in larvae stage. I love my job and it kept me feeling like I hadn’t lost that part of myself. Oh and an added bonus was that it helped me sleep train my little one without feeling like I was stuck inside all the time.
Selfie after walking out of my exam
The thing is….in life things are not completely linear like the original diagram. There of often twists and turns. It’s what keeps you on your toes. Keeps life exciting. Sometimes, you just gotta ride the wave and work hard to reach your goals.