Through high school and especially college, I was trying to search for the reason WHY I wanted to go into PT. Yeah, I had a great experience the first time around with my back, but I knew that couldn’t be the sole reason why I wanted to be a physical therapist. There has to be another reason why.
My junior year in high school was one for the books. I had my hardest year academically and ended up getting all A’s both semesters, and also was recruited to play soccer at the Division 1 level at Illinois State University. I was so excited to have been committed to a school that I had high interest in. With PT still in the back of my mind, I wanted to choose a major that interested me and would put me in the best position to be a great applicant for PT school if I decided to go that route. On an unofficial visit with the ISU soccer coaches, I met with Dr. Dale Brown- one of the Exercise Science professors. He took my parents and I through a sample schedule of an Exercise Science student with interest in applying to PT school. Though it seemed pretty intimidating at first (especially knowing I had to take 2 science prerequisite courses in the same semester at some point), I had a great feeling about applying into this major. I fell in love with the top-end facilities at McCormick, the friendly staff and the idea of becoming the best student I could be with the Exercise Science program.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016. The last summer I had as a college undergraduate student. I still didn’t have a definite answer of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be a personal trainer. I didn’t want to be a group fitness instructor. I didn’t want to be a strength coach. I really liked my anatomy and fitness programming classes. I liked interacting with others. I loved learning about health and disease in the United States and around the world. But I STILL didn’t have an answer as to WHY I wanted to do PT. Ugh.
As an Exercise Science student at ISU, we are required to complete a semester-long internship in the last semester of our undergraduate schooling. The internship could be in a group fitness setting, health and wellness program, cardiac rehab, personal training, strength and conditioning, etc. Basically, it had to be in a setting where you could work with patients/clients directly (and be supervised under and exercise physiologist, strength coach, personal trainer, etc). I ended up choosing cardiac rehab (because I thought, this is the closest thing to PT, right?) AND LOVED IT. I loved every aspect of it. The patients, the rehabilitation journey, the people I worked with, the education of healthy lifestyle choices, the clinical setting, the inpatient setting, taking blood pressures (I’ve probably taken over 700 blood pressures in my life- basically a pro) and the overall process. I could not have asked for a better experience.
I watched a few patients go through their entire cardiac rehabilitation process- from the day after surgery to the final day of outpatient cardiac rehab. I saw patients come to phase II (outpatient cardiac rehab, usually lasts ~14 weeks) cardiac rehab thinking that it wouldn’t benefit them at all and they were only here because their doctor or family member made them come. I talked with patients about their own eating and exercise habits outside of cardiac rehab and came up with a plan of how to improve these habits. I did SO much during this internship (I’ll discuss everything in another post!!) ULTIMATELY, this internship solidified my desire to serve and help others achieve their goal of getting better after such a traumatic and life-changing event. It was amazing to see the progress of the patients I worked with on a daily basis!
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, whether it’s good or bad. I’m so thankful to have learned so much through my internship and can’t wait to share my full experience with you all on another post!
Enjoy the rest of 2017 & stick around with me on my journey as I learn to PT!