Rachel Nelson

Pre-physical Therapy


Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson

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

Not only am I leaving Saint Ben’s with a solid foundation in health sciences, but I am confident in my abilities to write, form arguments and pull knowledge from many subjects. A liberal arts college has given me the opportunity to explore many topics while still focusing on my desired major and pre-professional track. In addition, I had the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa and take a plethora of courses that fit into my liberal arts requirements. Graduating with a liberal arts education gives me confidence that I can take on any subject and have the foundation necessary to be successful.

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

As an integrative science major, I got to center my major around the pre-physical therapy requirements. The integrative science major is broad and flexible, and it proved to be a great fit for myself. It allowed me to pursue my own interests, fulfill my major and common curriculum requirements, and still have room to study abroad. Additionally, at CSB/SJU, we have small class sizes, which is great. You really get to know your classmates and professors. I never hesitated to ask for help from a professor outside of class time because I knew them.

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

Any time I had question about what classes to take, observation hours, graduate school applications, research opportunities, I was able to get an answer from the faculty. Before registering for every semester, I sat down with Don Fischer, the pre-PT adviser, to make my semester plan and make sure I was still on track with pre-PT requirements as well as my major requirements. Advising was always a smooth process. The faculty made me feel valued and always encouraged me to keep working towards my goals.

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

Balancing the coursework along with other activities can be tough, but it is very doable! I have been involved in cross-country and track and field throughout my four years, which is a considerable time commitment. Balancing that with challenging classes has not always been easy. With the prerequisite classes, some topics such as biology or chemistry or physics or psychology are going to come easier than others. Although, within every department there are plenty of resources to be successful. Despite balance being a challenge, I have learned great time-management skills. I also learned the importance of perspective and taking care of myself. I learned that often times I needed to take a step back and question the importance of one test grade over my personal well-being. Many times I found it way more beneficial to put away my homework for a bit and either get some rest or get outside!

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

Even if you are just considering PT, talk to the faculty advisers early within your four years to make sure you can fit in all of the prerequisite courses. Additionally, contact Physical Therapists and shadow! This is by far the best way to decide if the profession is right for you. Shadow in a few different settings as well. PT in an acute care setting is vastly different than PT in a sports orthopedic clinic. Spending a day in a clinic will show you if physical therapy is something you can see yourself enjoying.

What are your plans after graduation for graduate school? And, what are your plans after completing graduate school?

I will be attending the DPT program at the University of Minnesota starting in the summer of 2019.