PROMPT: Describe your decision making process in choosing physical therapy as a career choice versus other health care careers.
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It was thanksgiving day and I ran until my legs felt likes bricks, jumped as high as I could and dived for balls as if I expected to land on a bed during a flag football game. I was a sophomore in high school and did not consider the possibility of an injury; however it gave way to my interest in physical therapy. I felt an excruciating pain from my groin area every time I walked. It was weeks before I sought out for help. I was unsure of whom to seek help from whether it be a doctor, athletic trainer or a physical therapist. My older brother, who happened to know a physical therapist at the time, scheduled an appointment. He performed a series of stretches that helped alleviate some of the pain that I was experiencing. There was one particular stretch performed that caught me by surprise. As I had my legs up and knees bent while on my back, he instructed me to squeeze my thighs together while he was forcing resistance. The next thing I hear is a large "pop" from him thrusting my thighs outwards. The feeling I experienced was similar to hitting a "funny" bone. He explained that he used what was called the "shotgun" technique, which releases the pubic symphysis that helps assuage the pain and allow for mobility. As weeks went on, I found the health of my injury to improve significantly from my weekly visits. During the last few appointments I observed little to no pain as I walked. I was quite fixated in how such techniques allowed for a full recovery without a single pill or prescription. I found myself tremendously curious and wanting to know more the profession.
I entered James Madison University determined that physical therapy was what I wanted to pursue. JMU's unique anatomy department helped me realize how much I truly love the human body, and how it connects with physical therapy. My understanding of the human body was greatly augmented by their program. Their department offered students to work with dried cadavers. It was so surreal to me that I was able to touch and see actual bones, muscles, tendons and organs. I was able to take it to the next level and dissect a wet cadaver. My knowledge of the human body went above and beyond of what I expected it to be for an undergraduate student. However, during the last year to a year and a half I felt a little compromised. I had the opportunity to be a teacher's assistant for anatomy lab. I found myself absolutely loving to teach students about the human body. It was an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience. At this point, I was strongly convinced that I wanted to become a professor in anatomy. However, I spent more time thinking about it and found a stronger calling for physical therapy. Although I loved to teach, I realized that I found a greater satisfaction in helping people enhance their physical well-being. I also realized that physical therapists have the best of both worlds of being able to teach and help people physically.
After graduating from JMU, my employment at Integrated Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy showed me how physical therapy is quite unique from all other health professions. Physical therapy allows patients to take control of their recovery process. Although physical therapists are able to effectively utilize their skills to enhance the patient's recovery, patients are depended upon to keep up with their recovery. I witnessed a patient who initially came in barely being able to raise their shoulder to regaining full range of motion. This patient was very proactive in keeping up with their exercises taught by the physical therapist. It was amazing to see how rapidly this patient had recovered and they deserved great credit for it. This made me realize how this profession is so humbling and revering to its patients. I was glad I was able to experience events like this and many others, because it reaffirmed that physical therapy is what I am called to do.
I believe that I have the ability to be a remarkable physical therapist. My character strongly reflects the core and foundations of physical therapy. I believe that my dedication, selflessness, hard-working, confidence and gregarious traits can be most effectively taken advantage of in this profession. I strive to provide my fullest services to others to help and improve their physical well-being. I firmly believe that physical therapy is what I am called to do. I hope to find and be given the opportunity to pursue it.