Category Archives: Pre-Physical and Occupational Therapy

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