Applying to Physical Therapy Programs, any advice for my personal statement would be greatly appreciated!
Prompt: Describe your decision making process in choosing physical therapy as a career choice versus other health care careers
I have always imagined myself enjoying a career in the health care field helping others get better. For a long time I thought that to achieve this I needed to attend medical school. I contemplated becoming a surgeon, but as I thought more of the high-stress and time demands that come with that career, I began to expand my horizons and look to other health careers. Having worked for the physical therapy program at my university, I was exposed to the preparation that goes into becoming a physical therapist but never the practice itself. As I pondered different health fields I always came back to physical therapy. It is a field that intrigues me and is something I see myself enjoying every day, interacting with and inspiring patients who trust I will effectively rehabilitate them.
To further explore the career, I shadowed and now work alongside physical therapists. Experiencing the patient relationships the field has to offer has confirmed that physical therapy is the career for me. Compared to other health professionals working at Park Health and Rehab, I feel the physical therapists are most involved in patient rehabilitation. There are only a couple doctors who treat patients at Park, and none visit more than twice a week. While I understand the work they do is just as important in a patient's recovery, I would not feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my patients nor see the results for myself if I was doing their work. The nurses work with patients and are able to see progress, but they do not get as much one-on-one time nor are they the main guide in a patient's rehabilitation process. I want to be directly involved in my patient's recovery; I want to experience their growth myself.
Among the myriad of patients whose progress I have experienced since becoming a rehab aide at Park, there is one patient that immediately comes to mind when I envision the type of patient I see myself working with to help reach their full potential as a physical therapist. Joyce is a patient who came to Park a month ago after having a stroke. She has made immense gains in a short time and even though she has far to go, she continues to improve daily. Helping the therapists during treatments with Joyce is always the highlight of my day and watching her progress has been amazing. Whether it is by helping her stand or helping her sit on the toilet for the first time since her stroke, I feel I am directly aiding in her recovery. I am overjoyed that I have been a part of her recovery journey, encouraging and supporting her along the way.
Pursuing physical therapy as a profession has led me to focus more on my own health, which is something I might not have done if I had chosen a different health career. Physical therapists focus on improving the fitness of their patients and my journey to becoming a physical therapist has made me concentrate on improving my own health. I recently took up running and enjoy it immensely. When I get home from work, I am sometimes exhausted by the business of the day. However, I push myself to put on my running shoes and get going. I know I am not running as fast or far as I could be or even someday hope to, but by continuing to grow and condition myself, I know I am pushing myself to be the healthiest I can be. Similarly, I want to push my patients to be as healthy as they can be. Working as a physical therapist I want to lead by example and inspire my patients to recover the strength and wellness they have lost.
Physical therapy is a personal profession in which patients lean, both mentally and sometimes physically, on their therapist and must follow their therapist's directions in order to effectively recover. Trust is a large component in patient-therapist relationships, as patients need to truly trust their therapist in order for them to follow the therapist's directions. This relationship intrigues me greatly and is a main reason I decided to pursue physical therapy over another health care career. I hope to build meaningful long-lasting relationships with patients who can depend on me, knowing I am competent and will treat them in the most effective way. Whether it is helping a patient re-learn how to walk after a stroke or get back to running after a knee injury, I want to inspire those that are injured and guide them through recovery to reach their full potential. Practicing physical therapy is something I know I will dedicate myself to and truly enjoy doing each and every day.