LaDeanna Swanson


Why study pre-PT at a liberal arts college?  

Studying physical therapy at a liberal arts college has given me a well-rounded education and has allowed me to develop very useful skills that will help me become the best physical therapist I can. In particular, being a psychology major has given me insight into how we develop and mentally process tough situations, such as injury. This extra step of learning, particularly things like my gender and cultural classes, allows me to feel more confident in any future situation I may encounter as a physical therapist. It also allows students to explore many different career options. I came in as an elementary education major, switched to psychology and did not add on the pre-physical therapy designation until sophomore year. Because I became exposed to a variety of options early on, by the time I reached sophomore year, I was confident in my decision to choose physical therapy.

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

This program is unique because there is no set course path or required major. As I mentioned, I am actually a psychology major, which has allowed me to explore different aspects of the medical field like mental health while still preparing me for a future in physical therapy. The advisors are there to make sure you meet the required courses for graduate school and can give you suggestions on which classes to take and when to take them. However, you still get the freedom to set your own schedule and truly tailor your classes to your own interests. This open scheduling also allows you to pursue interests that are not just career oriented, which helps students look unique when applying for graduate school. Overall, the physical therapy program at CSB/SJU allows you to prepare for graduate school and still enjoy your time here by taking classes that are interesting to you.

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

The faculty here for the pre-physical therapy program are simply amazing. Compared to most students, I switched to physical therapy late. However, from the moment I made my decision to switch, the pre-physical therapy faculty was there to support me. They assured me I would graduate on time, helped me find the best times to get my pre-requisites done and made me feel confident I would be ready for graduate school by the end of my time here. They were always available to answer my questions, whether it was about a particular graduate school program, where I should shadow or preparing for the GRE. The faculty here go above and beyond just simple advising meetings once a semester and truly care that you are prepared for any future endeavors you want to pursue. I have had such incredible experiences with the professors here at CSB/SJU, and I can honestly say they are the reason I am where I am today.

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

Applying for graduate schools has been an extremely long and difficult process. A ton of work and attention needs to be given to shadowing hours, application requirements and extracurricular activities. Not to mention the next step of interviewing for various schools since each school has a slightly different process. Even though it’s a lot of tough work, the pre-physical therapy faculty prepare you so well and offer so much extra help and advice that they make the process bearable and totally worth it in the end. After receiving acceptances from schools, there was time spent asking for help on narrowing things down and finding the school that would best fit me. The faculty is truly there for you, start to finish, offering you advice and encouragement every step of the way.

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

The best piece of advice I have is to go and shadow, whether you are sure you want to become a physical therapist or not. Often, those first few experiences can help either solidify your decision or tell you if physical therapy maybe is not for you. My first experience shadowing was very impactful, and it made me very excited about the path I choose for my future. These experiences not only help you decide if this is what you want for your future, they also help you build connections with the physical therapists, which help you immensely when choosing what schools to apply to and during the application process. They give advice on what they did to get into school, share their experiences of what school and the career is like, and they give great advice on what to add to your applications for graduate schools. They truly become invaluable connections!

What are your plans after graduation?   

After graduation, I plan to attend the DPT program at the Mayo School of Health Sciences, Rochester, Minnesota.