Nick Suardi

3/1/2017

Why study pre-physical therapy at a liberal arts college? 

The healthcare field is full of obstacles that do not pertain to a specific skill type and demands strong interpersonal and critical thinking skills. Particularly in the realm of physical therapy, it is imperative to be well-rounded individual. Studying pre-PT at a liberal arts college is in a prospective student’s best interest because it will equip you with the education necessary to be successful not only as a student doctor of physical therapy but also as a fully-fledged future DPT.

A liberal arts education is also in a student’s best interest because students do not always know what they want right away. The liberal arts education allows students to keep their options open. For me in particular, a lot has changed over the last four years and there have been times I have considered alternative career paths. If you are like me, you will truly appreciate studying pre-PT at a liberal arts college.

What makes the pre-physical therapy program at CSB/SJU unique? 

At CSB/SJU, the students study in a unique learning community. The environment that students are in plays an essential part in growing them to be successful leaders no matter what path they take. Perhaps the unique aspect of CSB/SJU’s pre-PT program is the availability to explore multiple interests. With no set course path, students are engaging in life experiences and classes that make them an outstanding applicant to doctorate programs. The faculty encourage students to pursue their passions by laying out a four-year schedule specifically tailored to you.

With a course-load tailored to me, I have been able to have the most enjoyable yet productive four year experience — especially since I play football for Saint John’s and have an on campus residential assistant job — the tailored structure that comes from the CSB/SJU pre-PT program adds much needed organization to my life.

What has your experience with the CSB/SJU pre-PT program faculty been like? 

My experience with the pre-PT faculty here has been nothing short of amazing. I have had many questions about physical therapy as a profession, how I can make myself the strongest applicant, and many more. Pre-PT is a long and sometimes very confusing path that involves job-shadowing hours, prerequisite courses, online application services and much more, which may be a little overwhelming. However, the faculty is there for you to answer just about any question you might have. If they cannot answer your question (which is rare), they will always know someone who can.

What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced?

My greatest challenge has been balancing my schoolwork with all my extra-curricular activities. The pre-PT path is not easy — nor is college in general — but when I add on all my other interests and activities it makes me one busy student. However, this will be the same case at any university!

What advice do you have for students considering the pre-PT program?  

My advice for students considering the pre-PT program is to be open to making new friends! Your professors and peers are by far your greatest resources for making the next four years of your life both academically successful and manageable. I found that a lot of my personal success at CSB/SJU could be credited to my friends within the pre-PT discipline whom have helped me study and collaborate on tough coursework. These Bennies and Johnnies have developed into great friendships that I see lasting far beyond graduation and I cannot thank them enough for the part they played in my personal success.

Not only are the connections you make with your peers important, but also with the professionals around — whether that may be the physical therapists you might shadow or the professors/faculty within the discipline. It is important to think of life down the road, and these people have all sorts of connections and resources that could be very valuable to you someday.

What are your plans after graduation?

While I have been accepted into multiple doctorate programs, I am still in the process of choosing the best fit for me. Someday I hope to lead a pro-bono clinic in an effort to provide an uncompromising quality of healthcare to underserved communities. Giving back is very important to me, so I see myself attending the graduate program that will best suit my goals.

As of right now, I am considering Concordia St. Paul, University of North Dakota and High Point University in North Carolina. Ten years from now, I hope that I can honestly say that I am making a meaningful impact on those I encounter through physical therapy and continue to be an active leader in the community.