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'I decided to major in Exercise Physiology' - PTCAS Entry Essay

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Sep 18, 2011   #1
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Which personal characteristics and motivating factors have led you to pursue the profession of physical therapy?

Upon entering college I had no idea what career I planned to pursue. Being physically fit and having a passion for exercise, I decided to major in Exercise Physiology. This was a choice I made knowing my degree would give me many options after graduation. It was not until I became an exercise physiologist that the career's passion to help others, holistic element, and "human approach" led me to pursue a career in physical therapy.

I was introduced to physical therapy during my final year of college. While working as an exercise physiologist at Lakeland Regional Hospital, I was approached by a Medical Doctor who asked me to help him with his back pain. With my desire to help and undergraduate education in exercise physiology, I agreed. For the next two months I began stretching and strengthening muscles I believed had been neglected. After two months, I had relieved his back pain and he had helped me find my "calling". The enjoyment I had received from aiding him led me to discover my true passion in life was to help others. I began job shadowing physical therapists in various settings: in-patient, orthopedic outpatient, cardiac/pulmonary, and intensive care. It was observing therapists in their various elements that led me to believe physical therapy was correct for me. It did not matter if the therapist were in outpatient, inpatient, or intensive care; these people cared. Not only did they care, they all possessed similar traits: interpersonal communication skills, compassion, and a sincere desire to help; all of which I unquestionably have.

Along with a desire to help others, physical therapy's holistic element has intrigued me. Working as an exercise physiologist, I have seen nearly every medication there is. It is not uncommon for a patient of mine to be on fifteen to twenty medications. Many of my patients have complained to me about the terrible side effects of the drugs they are taking. As a health care professional I feel we are an overmedicated society. I am motivated to join a career in physical therapy because it shows an evidence based integrated approach to medicine. Research in Texas shows manual therapy is more effective in relieving pain than non-steroidal anti-inflamatories (NSAID), muscle relaxants, or painkillers. As an exercise enthusiast myself, I am inspired by this research and believe it is my obligation to help these people reduce their pain without the use of medication.

Furthermore, the reason I chose to pursue the career of physical therapy is for the opportunity to take a "human approach." Through my professional job as an exercise physiologist, I have realized many health care professions do not have the opportunity, physical therapist do, to connect with their patients on a personal level. In an era where human interaction is becoming increasingly scarce, physical therapists are still given the opportunity to spend "one on one" time with their patients. As an extroverted person myself, this has become a very important part of my decision process. In my current job, I rarely have time to interact with the patients and learn what they are experiencing as they go through the stressfulness of diagnostic testing. I believe interpersonal communication is not only important to provide a service to the patient, but essential to make the patient not feel like a "product". The physical therapy occupation provides the opportunity for me not only to treat my patients, but work with, educate, and communicate with them along their journey to renewed health.

Through my health care experience, I have learned physical therapy is a great opportunity to not only help others, but truly make an impact on their life. For me, it is not a job or career I am pursuing, but a passion. My desire to help others, human approach, and interest in the career's holistic element will, undoubtedly, make me a successful therapist. I am ready to take the next step and obtain an elite education so that I may pursue my lifetime "calling" as a physical therapist.

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