Category: Pre-Physical and Occupational Therapy

Pre-PT Advice from Hunter Kero!

Hi! My name is Hunter Kero. I am currently a senior here at Michigan Tech, majoring in Exercise Science while double minoring in Pre-Health Professions and Psychology. I will be attending Central Michigan University’s Doctorate in Physical Therapy program in May. I applied to this program because of the co-op they have with Michigan Tech, and the opportunity to continue my education in the Copper Country. 

 Studying exercise science at Michigan Tech was very valuable for getting into PT school.  In high school, I was always interested in the human body and became interested in athletic training and physical therapy. It wasn’t until I underwent shoulder surgery, which required many months of physical therapy that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in PT. So, when I transferred to Michigan Tech and saw the curriculum for Exercise Science It was a very easy decision for me to go down this route. 

Michigan Tech provided me with every opportunity to strengthen my application. The shadowing program that Tech has is perfect for students who need on-sight shadowing hours. Along with shadowing, I volunteered as an assistant coach for a local high school hockey team as well as a few smaller organizations and events. I did not take part in research, but Michigan Tech has great opportunities to do so, and I would highly recommend it.  Without the pre-health profession courses, I would have been very overwhelmed in the application process. These courses cover every aspect of the application and what is required for each topic of the application. I strongly recommend taking those classes and saving your work from them. 

Some advice I would give Tech students going for physical therapy would be, 

  1. Talk to your Pre-Health Advisor (Nicole) and make sure you have a plan and know what prereqs you need.
  2.  Do not overwhelm yourself as a Freshman or sophomore, enjoy the college experience. There is no correct path to these programs. Be unique.  
  3. Take advantage of what Tech has to offer, there are a lot of opportunities you may not know of.  It is okay to ask questions.

Best of luck to all the students and your journey into whatever you may choose! If you have any questions don’t be afraid to reach out, Nicole has my email. 


Healthcare job growth projected at 16%; Michigan Tech Pre-Health professions helping to meet demand

It’s no secret the older we get the more we need healthcare. And the U.S. is getting older. Currently, 16.5% of the U.S. population of 328 million people, or 54 million, are over the age of 65, according to the latest census. By 2030, that number will rise to 74 million, a 37% increase. And the number of people over the age of 85, who generally need the most care, is growing even faster.

So it comes as no surprise that healthcare is expected to create jobs at a faster clip than the rest of the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 16% growth across all healthcare professions. And these professions pay very well, too. The table below lists just some examples.

OccupationProjected
Job Growth
Median
Pay
Audiologists16%$81,030
Chiropractors11%$70,720
Dentists8%$164,010
Optometrists9%$118,050
Occupational Therapists17%$86,280
Physical Therapists21%$91,010
Physicians Assistants31%$115,390
Podiatrists2%$134,300
Speech Pathologists29%$80,480
Veterinarians17%$99,250

Michigan Tech’s Pre-Health professions minor has been preparing tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and helping to fill the growing demand for healthcare professionals. Pre-Health professions features helpful faculty and staff ensuring students: meet academic requirements for professional programs, receive valuable clinical experience and successfully navigate the application process. All of which results in a 70% acceptance rate into all health professional programs. For Tech students applying to medical school, they have a 65% acceptance rate (approximately twenty-five percentage points above the national average).

Students can pair this minor with any degree/major they choose at Tech. Popular pairings are made with Human Biology, Medical Lab Science, Biomedical Engineering, Exercise Science, Chemistry, and Psychology. While students can choose any major, these are the most common! 

But don’t let us tell you. Hear from our students first-hand how they prepared for the health professional program of their choice.

Listen to Jill Poliskey describe how a study abroad program in Ireland helped her decide to change her focus and her major and decide to go to medical school to become a doctor.

Listen to Abigail Botz describe how getting involved in research on campus and working as a peer health advocate has helped to strengthen her application.

Learn about Alyssa Meinburg’s progression from MTU’s prehealth program to prosthetics and orthotics school.

Emma DeBaeke shares her journey from Tech into into Physcial Therapy school.

And Karmyn Polakowski talk about her entrance into med school thanks to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University.
Learn more about Pre-Health at Michigan Tech or contact Nicole Seigneurie, Director, Pre-Health Profession directly at 906.487.2850 or nmseigne@mtu.edu.


The Next Chapter: Physical Therapy School

I’m Emma DeBaeke, I graduated in spring 2021 from MTU with a Bachelors of Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. The research and the anatomical-based program have given me the perfect foundation for the next chapter in my life, Physical Therapy school. I have just started school at the University of Michigan- Flint in their DPT program. Personally, I feel as if U of M has been the right choice for me because of the ability to live closer to my family, the PT Heart clinic, and the amazing professors. However, MTU will always be in my heart.

I wouldn’t be who I am today without my experiences at Tech. With Michigan Tech being so far from my home town it helped me grow. It took a lot of tenacity, determination, and help from the Chemistry Learning Center to make it through my first semester. I also couldn’t have made it through without the supportive community at MTU. I have had numerous occasions where people have helped me shovel out my car from the snow, and I have run into countless alumni downstate who are always so kind. 

Throughout my time at Tech I was on the rowing team, a Resident Assistant in DHH, and an Athletic Training Intern. I am still active in the MTU community as a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon. I personally enjoy being busy and these roles allowed me to either give back to the community or better myself personally. I know preparing to apply for graduate school can be stressful. I believe when preparing your resume it’s important to find activities that you enjoy to fulfill the graduate program’s recommendations and help you stand out during interviews.


Ben Cockfield, Pre-PT Advice

My name is Ben Cockfield, and I am currently a second-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Central Michigan University.

I received a BS in Exercise Science and an MS in Kinesiology through Michigan Tech. I began my academic journey in the biomedical engineering department with aspirations to design technology that would interface directly with the human body in some way to improve performance or quality of life. I quickly found out that the engineering-based curriculum was not holding my interest – but the anatomy and human applications of the information was. This was hugely important for me and ultimately led to my switching into the department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and is my first piece of advice: explore often, and if you can, early. Change your mind, change your major! You do not need to have a decision made about what you want to do right away but trying to open as many doors as possible early on – and keeping them open – is relevant for anyone, regardless of major or interests.

I didn’t know I was going to apply to a DPT program until I was starting my MS – although PT school had been on my radar, this felt like a bit of a late decision. Looking back, I am glad I took my time, and in the end, it cemented my certainty to pursue my DPT. This would not have been possible had it not been for the support and connections I made at Tech, specifically, my thesis advisor Dr. Steve Elmer, and the other graduate students in the department. Having a mentor that guided and pushed me was essential during my time at Tech and finding someone like this is critical for growth as both a person and as a professional. Moreover, interacting and networking with graduate students across departments was invaluable to me and highlights another important lesson – surround yourself with people who genuinely care about what they are doing. Passion is contagious, and when you are surrounded by people who are invested and willing to work hard because they care more about just getting a good grade, it encourages you to do the same.

One important note was that I didn’t wait until I was a grad student myself to initiate these interactions, and I would encourage other undecided students anywhere to do the same. The easiest way is to volunteer to be a research participant (affectionally referred to as a lab rat), this allows you to observe the type of research that gets done across a variety of departments while simultaneously learning more about the topic from the students and faculty directly – no one loves to talk more about the most up-to-date research, techniques, and projects than those directly involved with the process, so be careful how many questions you ask, you may end up being there all day!

The last bit of advice I would give anyone interested in pursuing PT is to involve yourself with your local community to some capacity – whether that is through a volunteer organization, church, job, etc. I have been a member of the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol for 5 years and believe that extending yourself outside of purely the academic community/college “bubble” is incredibly important for personal growth and getting in touch with the world outside of your own niche. Get out and learn about the people who make the community that you are a part of. This will extend to your future as a health care professional as well – you can’t expect to spend your whole life in the clinic or hospital!

To boil it all down, my advice for applying to PT school (or any graduate program for that matter!) would be to keep doors open (but don’t be afraid to change your mind!), surround yourself with passionate people, explore new avenues, and get involved with the community – Good Luck!


Alexa Destrampe: Pathway to Occupational Therapy School

My name is Alexa and I am currently an Occupational Therapy student at Concordia University Wisconsin.

As an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech, I studied Exercise Science and also earned a minor in Psychology. As a pre-Occupational Therapy student at MTU, I was able to learn about the human body from many different perspectives. In addition to kinesiology and psychology classes, I also took courses in biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, neuroscience, epidemiology, neurology, mindfulness & meditation, psychopathology, & archaeology. Every course I took at Michigan Tech helped me become the occupational therapy student I am today, as OT is a holistic medical profession that highlights all branches of human health. That said, having a focus on movement science was especially helpful when learning the basics of the human body.

I chose occupational therapy as my future profession because it combines science and creativity effortlessly. For example, if two different clients came to see me for carpal tunnel treatment, their treatment plans would look very different from each other, even with the same diagnoses. Each patient requires treatment based on their unique occupations; things you need, want, and are expected to do in society. I was drawn to the vastness of opportunity that this career holds. I will never be bored and will always be helping others live their life to the fullest as an occupational therapist. Additionally, being an occupational therapist will require action through advocacy. Advocating for the profession as a whole, future clients, populations, as well as myself is something I am passionate about. 

I went into my first semester at MTU nervous to get involved but quickly shed that fear. While I was at Tech I spent a lot of my time in the athletic training room, in the sleep research lab, and out in the campus & local communities promoting healthy habits & lifestyle changes. I invested time into experiences that I was passionate about. Through these experiences, I gained confidence in professional and medical language, developed interpersonal skills, and sharpened my analytical skills. 

None of this would have been possible if I did not network with my professors, academic advisors, and mentors. The people at Michigan Tech are what sets my experience apart from what “could have been”. I truly don’t think I would have had the opportunities I did at MTU had I went elsewhere. The class sizes are small, the librarians and tutors are helpful, and the community that Michigan Tech creates is a safe one. 

I applied to Concordia University – Wisconsin’s program right on time. CUW’s OT program was one of the only post-baccalaureate programs in the country to have a January start. I just so happened to graduate in December and knew if I had the choice, I wanted to head right to OT school. If I hadn’t been accepted, I would have applied to other schools and took the next few months to take a breather. But, it was fate, so I packed my bags and headed South to Milwaukee! Concordia’s OT program is a great fit and the view of Lake Michigan even reminds me of home. 

My number one piece of advice is to take initiative when planning for your desired successes. When applying to OT school you should stay organized and be intentional about the choices you make starting your very first semester of undergrad. Talk to your pre-health advisor to plan both your academics and extracurriculars. I would also highly suggest shadowing practicing occupational therapists throughout your undergraduate career. This helped me directly learn about OT and stay excited about my future even when I was overwhelmed with the common stresses of school. 


Kirsen Hudak, Pre-Occupational Therapy Experience

Kirsen HudakI think Michigan Tech gave me the opportunity to be involved with a lot of different things and become a well-rounded student. The small class sizes gave me the confidence to take charge and lead, in group and classroom settings. The research-based classes and labs gave me a good background in reading and interpreting research. The kinesiology department faculty have helped me so much with the application process itself. They took the time to write recommendations, proofread essays, and do mock interviews. The undergraduate internship that I completed at UP Health System gave me a very diverse shadowing experience. Due to the rural nature of the Houghton-Hancock area, I was able to observe many practice settings. I think being able to talk about these diverse experiences strengthened my understanding of Occupational Therapy (OT) in practice.

I graduated in May of 2017 with my undergraduate degree in exercise science and a minor in psychology. I decided to complete an Accelerated Master’s degree in Kinesiology the following year at Tech. Knowledge in kinesiology and psychology are both incredibly important to the OT profession. Professors expect you to have a certain level of understanding of both of these fields. I think my Master’s coursework prepared me for the rigor of OT school and gave me the critical thinking skills important for success in my program.

I ultimately decided on Grand Valley State University. I chose this program for several reasons. When visited campus for the interview portion of the application process, I was very impressed with the faculty and facilities. I could tell right away that the instructors and staff really cared about each and every one of their students. Meeting with current students in the program really reinforced it. The brand new facilities and location being right downtown in Grand Rapids were also a selling point to me. GVSU’s program was more condensed than other programs I applied to. Their program requires taking a heavier credit load each semester, resulting in an earlier graduation. With already being in college for five years, this sealed the deal for me!

I would say, first and foremost for those students applying to OT school to get good grades! Schools weight GPA differently, but many have a certain GPA requirement. Secondly, I think it is important to get healthcare experience. There are many capacities in which you can do this, whether it be shadowing, working as a rehab technician, or completing an internship in the healthcare system. School’s want to see that you know what you are getting into. Finally, diversify your experiences! Occupational therapists teach their patients about life balance. Make sure you balance your schoolwork, service experiences, work, and, of course, leisure activities. Above all, have fun and be genuine in with your application.

I was involved in many experiences and extracurricular activities at Michigan Tech that helped with my application process. I had the privilege of competing on the women’s varsity soccer team for my five years at Tech (Go Huskies!). I was also involved in student leadership and community service through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where I served as president for two years. I worked several jobs during my time on campus including working as a camp counselor for Summer Youth Programs and Michigan Tech Hockey School, a student assistant for Husky Motors, and a Peer Health Advocate and NCAA Choices Student Advisor for Student Health and Wellness. I completed an undergraduate occupational therapy internship at UP Health system in several different settings. During my fifth year, I taught PE classes and completed a graduate internship with MTU Athletics strength and conditioning department. I also tried to help out at as many outreach events as I could through the Kinesiology Department.


Elle Heinonen, Pre-Physical Therapy and Exercise Science

Elle Heinonen

I graduated with a degree in exercise science from Michigan Tech and I prepared for applying to Physical Therapy (PT) school by making sure I had all of the pre-physical therapy requirements and getting involved in as many groups on campus that I believed would strengthen my skills both professionally and personally. I was a part of the Michigan Tech varsity volleyball team, the Pavlis Honors College and Blue Key National Honor Society. Through all of these groups, I was given many opportunities to volunteer in the community and become a more well-rounded student

My advisor Kathy Carter was a huge help all through my undergrad and assisting me in preparing to apply for PT school.

I am currently attending Central Michigan University through a partnership with Central Michigan and Michigan Tech. This program felt like a good fit for me because I was able to go to PT school while staying close to family and friends in Houghton. I also already have so many connections at Michigan Tech and in surrounding areas, I thought it would be helpful to build on those connections these next three years.

I would advise future PT students to look ahead and get working on the requirements for PT school early on. You want to be certain you have everything completed so the application process can go smooth. I also would tell students to get started on the application as soon as it is released to allow you time to fill out the application and get any questions answered because the application can be confusing.

 


Pre-Physical Therapy Alumni Lindsay Winter at Central Michigan

Lindsay WinterMy name is Lindsay Winter, and I currently a first-year student at Central Michigan University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy (PT) program. At Michigan Tech, my undergrad degree was in exercise science with a minor in psychology. I felt my undergrad education provided me with a well-rounded foundation to begin PT school. Between my exercise science and psychology courses, I feel I graduated from Michigan Tech with a firm background in physical, mental, and social health.

Throughout my undergrad, a variety of experiences and resources helped prepare me for PT school. The courses that were included in my undergrad really emphasized the importance of having hands-on experience with the technology in our Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) labs. I found it helpful that we were able to actually work with some of the equipment that would be used in physical therapy research and have an understanding of what the technology would be used for. Second, Michigan Tech has really made an effort to bring in speakers and create classes that are helpful for prospective physical therapy students.

A KIP Seminar Series was created to bring researchers to campus and have them present on their current and past research projects. Also, I was able to take a PT Seminar class that was taught by a physical therapist that graduated from Michigan Tech! I found all of these to be very helpful in providing me with extra information related to physical therapy and made me more interested in the recent topics related to my field.

Another important aspect of my success at Michigan Tech was the KIP department and Pre-Health staff. They were always so helpful throughout my time at Michigan Tech and in my PT school application process. Even though applying to PT school can be stressful, they always made sure our concerns were heard and made an extra effort to address any areas of the application we were struggling with.

Central Michigan University has been a great fit for me so far. It’s obvious that all of the professors are passionate about their profession and want to see us become successful physical therapists in the future. They do a great job of challenging us to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom and make sure we are provided with the resources to do so. Finally, I really enjoy how the program stresses the importance of building relationships with our classmates and staff both in and out of the classroom.

A tip that I would give to future students would be to do as much shadowing as possible.

In addition, I would tell them to shadow in multiple different areas of physical therapy. The more experience you have coming into PT school, the better understanding you will have for how each area of physical therapy works. Many students are content with just shadowing outpatient clinics, but I would recommend that they try to gain experience in pediatrics, women’s health, inpatient care, neuro, etc. You never know where your passion may be!

In my undergrad, I was on the women’s basketball team at Michigan Tech. Being involved in athletics and experiencing the injuries that go along with them is what drew me to become interested in physical therapy. Also, being apart of the team really allowed me to be extremely involved in the community. I was able to be a volunteer for numerous events throughout Houghton, which I found very enjoyable and a great learning opportunity. These events helped me realize that I wanted to work in a profession that allowed me to positively impact the lives of others and improve someone’s quality of life as well.

 


Stephanie Dietrich’s Physical Therapy Experience

Stephanie Dietrich 201703010012When I first decided to pursue a career in physical therapy (PT) I had no clue how to go about the application process or what steps were involved. Being clueless is OK. There’s a lot of people in the same boat. Start by talking to your advisor and developing a plan. Current PT students are also an excellent resource because they’ve “been there”.  In addition, Michigan Technological University provides many other resources to support students on this path (the writing center was one I highly recommend using for essays).

Many of the courses required for my major overlapped the requirements for PT school which made the application process much smoother. In addition to that, additional requirements for my major, such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports nutrition, have given me a stronger background to tackle my current PT courses. The knowledge base I gained in my undergraduate studies at Michigan Tech has made the shift to graduate school much easier due to exposure to many of the concepts I am currently studying.

I am currently attending PT school at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. This PT program really appealed to me due to the focus on research here, which was the highlight of my undergraduate studies. In addition to that, La Crosse has this amazing opportunity to participate in EXPAND (Exercise Program for Adults with Neurologic Disorders) where PT students get the chance to apply classroom knowledge while giving back to the community. The number of clinical rotations was also instrumental in my decision; in total, I will be exposed to five unique settings.

I owe much of my success to my strong support group at Michigan Tech which consisted of my advisors, professors, a research team, volleyball team, and coaching staff. My advisor, Kathy Carter, was instrumental in my dream to pursue PT from day one. She directed me to all the resources I needed and more. I also had engaging professors that kept me excited to continue down this path. My involvement with undergraduate research, examining the differences in subjective and objective measurements of sleep in collegiate athletes with Dr. Jason Carter, was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate studies and influenced my decision in PT school seeing as La Crosse stresses research involvement. Ultimately, my experiences at Tech prepared me well for PT school not only through coursework, but through developing lasting skills in communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Below are some of the wonderful experiences and extracurricular activities I was involved in during my time at Tech:

Michigan Tech volleyball

  • Student-athlete
  •  Assistant coach for youth camps

Undergraduate Research Assistant

  • Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology Lab (Advisor: Dr. Jason Carter) Determine differences in subjective and objective assessments of sleep in collegiate athletes
  • Clinical Observation – Inpatient and outpatient settings in Michigan and Minnesota

Community service

  • Bounce-O-Rama Event Volunteer
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation Sales Attendant
  • Athletic Event Parking Attendant
  • Chuck-A-Puck Sales Attendant

Pony Power and Performance Instructor – Summer strength and conditioning program for middle and high school athletes