My name is Kala, and I am a 29 year old physical therapist. The road to becoming a PT was an awfully long and windy one, so I’m guess you’re what people would consider a “non traditional” student. Ever since I was a small child I had wanted to be one thing: a teacher. So, it was no surprise when I graduated high school that I went straight to the local university and got my Bachelor of Science in early childhood and elementary education. When I graduated with my teaching degree, the education was going through a very rough time (circa 2007) and jobs were scarce. So, I spent three (long, pain staking) years day-to-day substitute teaching at about 7-8 school districts, praying for a permanent job. And every interview I went on ended the same, “Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re excellent, but we can’t hire you right now.” Talk about a self-esteem killer. During the time I was in college and beyond, I had begun teaching Spinning©, pilates and aerobics classes. In short, I loved it, but I didn’t love when people came up to me and asked me about their sore ankles or aching knees and I had no answers. I started to consider that maybe teaching in a classroom wasn’t my calling after all. At first, I thought I would get my Master’s degree in exercise physiology. Then, I could really help all the people in my group fitness classes and I could work with people in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation has been an interest of mine because when I was little I had open heart surgery. The thought of being able to relate to patients with similar issues (even if they were not the same age as me) was very intriguing. I went and spoke with the head of the exercise physiology department and she looked me square in the face and told me I would be wasting my time and that I should pursue a career in physical therapy. Physical therapy had been an idea, but with this new information and after shadowing, I decided it was for me. So, it was back to school for a year to complete all my science courses (chemistry, biology, physics, A&P) before I could even apply to PT school. Then, I missed the deadline by 2 courses, so when I applied I had a full year to wait. Finally, I started physical therapy school in August of 2011 and graduated in December of 2013, and became licensed in January 2014. And as of February 10, 2015, I celebrated my one year anniversary at my job!
- How was the transition/learning curve when starting your first job?
For me, I felt that my school prepared me extremely well for the transition to a new grad. And, I had a bonus that the company I accepted a position with was a company that I had completed a clinical rotation at. Before starting, I was very familiar with a lot of the procedures which made the transition easier. However, that being said, I really honestly feel like I didn’t have my multi-tasking and documenting completely under control until about 10 months into the job. Some of that is the electronic documentation system that we use and some of it was just adjusting to all of the things that happen in a clinic that you aren’t exposed to as a student. I work for a small company, so a lot of the insurance information is something that I have to keep tabs on and work with, more so than I would have ever imagined.
- What your work load is like or what a typical day is like for you?
- What do you wish you would have known or been prepared for after graduating?
- What is it like/managing student loans on a physical therapist salary?
- Additional thoughts
Again, a special thanks to Dr. Kala Markel, DPT for her willingness to share her insights. For more information about Dr. Kala Markel, DPT check out her blog at http://
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