Studying pre-PT at a liberal arts college has made me a well-rounded individual and much better prepared for my future career as a physical therapist. My liberal arts education has allowed me to take courses that challenge me in different ways than my science classes typically do. I have been able to explore courses in gender, ethics, sociology, theology and history, all of which have allowed me to reflect on and understand a variety of issues through both verbal and written word. Through discussion-orientated courses especially, I have been able to learn from my peers and better understand the issues that people of all different backgrounds face. This deeper understanding will help me immensely as a physical therapist where I will be interacting with people of all different backgrounds on a day-to-day basis. My liberal arts education has given me the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful both inside and outside my career as a physical therapist.
The pre-PT program at CSB/SJU is so unique because, besides the program requirements, students have the flexibility to choose from a variety of majors, minors and common curriculum courses. With this flexibility, I was able to pursue the pre-PT path while also having the ability to take a number of other courses that were of interest to me.
My experience with the CSB/SJU pre-PT program faculty has been phenomenal. I have met with the pre-PT advisor, Don Fischer, before class registration every semester, and he helped to ensure that I was still on track to complete my pre-PT courses on time while also fitting in a semester long study abroad program. Don also always had suggestions as to other courses CSB/SJU offered that were not requirements for the pre-PT program, but that would be of relevance and interest to someone looking to pursue a career in physical therapy.
The outstanding pre-PT program at CSB/SJU does not go unnoticed by physical therapy programs. When meeting with a professor from St. Catherine’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, his first comment was how remarkable Don and the rest of the pre-PT program faculty at CSB/SJU are. I am confident that being a part of such an excellent program contributed immensely to my success here at CSB/SJU as well as to my admittance into physical therapy school.
One of the greatest challenges that I have faced throughout my journey as a pre-PT student has been self-doubt. The pre-PT courses can be challenging and overwhelming at times, especially if you begin these courses your first semester of college when you are adapting to a number of changes in your life. There were many times throughout my college career, especially during my first couple of semesters, when I doubted my abilities to succeed in these courses and appeal to physical therapy schools but studying hard and staying optimistic is essential. Sticking with these courses and the pre-PT path is so worth it.
My advice would be to gain experience in the field early on. Physical therapy schools require a decent amount of shadowing hours in different physical therapy settings and gaining this experience early on is a great way to avoid procrastinating completing these shadowing hours. It also helps assure you that this is your desired career path. It is a great opportunity to form relationships with the therapists you work with, as they can be great mentors as well as a great reference when it comes time to apply for physical therapy programs.
I studied abroad in Australia during the spring semester of my junior year, and I absolutely loved it. Perhaps the most substantial way it affected me was through giving me a newfound confidence in my ability to transition to and succeed in physical therapy school. The education system in Australia was unlike any style of learning I had experienced, and it definitely took a lot of work to get used to it. However, being able to adapt to this completely different way of learning has left me feeling better prepared and more confident in my abilities to transition successfully from undergraduate to physical therapy school.
My experiences abroad were also of relevance when applying to physical therapy schools. On almost every physical therapy program application, a large focus was placed on resiliency and diversity, both of which one will experience plenty of during a semester abroad.
Following graduation, I will be attending the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at St. Catherine’s University.