It’s back-to-school season in NYC and in the #SPEARIT of all those sharpened pencils and crisp backpacks, we thought we’d ask two of our therapists to tell us a bit about their time in physical therapy school.
56th Street’s Rachel Bellows, PT DPT is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s School of Medicine’s Program in Physical Therapy. 44th Street’s Abby Karpinksi, PT DPT, who joined us in February, received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from New York University and has been treating patients for five and a half years.
Hackcollege.com’s Gavin Grant also provides a great overview of what it takes academically and financially to pursue a career in this field, which, if we do say so ourselves, is one of the most rewarding in healthcare.
Abby Karpinksi with her patient, Olympic fencer Nicole Ross
What drew you to the program you entered?
Rachel: Growing up and completing my undergraduate studies in Southern California, I decided to try a new experience and attend graduate school in the East Coast. Columbia’s interviewing process/new students’ day really sold me on their program. The faculty and students were all very friendly and helpful in answering questions. It almost felt like a big family where everyone encouraged each other to perform their best, but still make time for life outside of the library!
Abby: I was drawn to NYU because of the city. I’d always visited it as child and thought it would be fun new adventure living there.
What was the most important lesson you learned from PT school?
Rachel: As nerdy as this may sound, the biggest lesson I have learned from PT school is the importance of posture and ergonomics! Long hours in a classroom, with horribly small, plastic desks led to a class full of stiff and sore future PTs.
Abby: To always listen! Whether to patients or peers or family.
How did your affiliations help you prepare for a career in physical therapy?
Rachel: I am so grateful for my experiences and lessons I learned in my clinical affiliations. I can’t imagine entering my first day of work as a licensed therapist without having the experiences I had in my affiliations. You learn quickly not everyone follows the patterns you read in textbooks. Physical therapy is a physical job the demands a significant amount of effort. The affiliations give students time to improve their palpation and manual skills, as well as practice these techniques with proper body mechanics.
Abby: I think this is where all the real learning occurs. There’s only so much you can learn in a classroom. This is where you learn and develop your skills and decide what is right for you.
What do you find most rewarding about your career choice?
Rachel: It’s pretty tough to pinpoint the most rewarding aspect of being a physical therapist. I really enjoy seeing my patients improve and return to activities they enjoyed doing prior to their injury. I also love those “ah-ha” moments patients have when they understand their why their pathologies came about and how the exercises/stretches will have a positive impact on their recovery.
Abby: Helping people! Seeing the results of all your hard work and the patient’s hard work.