At one point or another, we all know someone who has needed physical therapy. Whether it was the football player in high school who tore his ACL during a game, the next-door neighbor with tennis elbow, or your grandma after her hip replacement, chances are somebody in your life has gone to a rehabilitation clinic for physical therapy. Because the need for rehabilitation is so prevalent among our loved ones and acquaintances, many students are choosing to major in physical therapy (PT). Gannon University offers a variety of PT programs, such as a three-year undergrad + three-year graduate program, a four-year undergraduate + three-year graduate program, or a four year exercise science program and graduate school.

Gannon’s program is unique in the fact that it offers students in the Pre-PT program an automatic spot in the university’s doctorate program. This means that after students complete their undergraduate career, they are able to progress straight onto Gannon’s doctorate program for physical therapy. This is especially beneficial because it means that students don’t have to worry about applying to graduate schools; they receive an automatic position in Gannon’s program.

Another interesting aspect is the program’s clinical work. Starting in the more advanced years of the program, students begin hands-on clinical work in which they practice interacting with actual clients. Students are given the opportunity to observe and treat patients with all sorts of ailments and utilize skills and machinery. “I’m looking forward to clinical, because that’s when you actually get to start doing field work and talking to clients,” said Megan Schoming, sophomore 3+3 science of physical therapy major.

In spite of the fact that students don’t get to go out into field work until their upperclassmen years, they have reliable professors to give them the inside scoop on the ins-and-outs of the career. “I like the fact that we have a lot of experienced professors who are presently working in the field. They have a lot of connections in the UPMC field, not just in Erie, but around the country as well,” states Schoming. Also, by working in the field, the professors are able to instruct their students with the most up-to-date information.

The field of physical therapy is broad; you can work in pediatrics, geriatrics, in home care, in outpatient clinics or in-patient clinics. Gannon’s Pre-PT program prepares you for these opportunities. “Students from other physical therapy programs are so focused on knowing a lot of information, but have trouble treating someone with confidence. But when Gannon students go out into clinical, they’re informed with not just how to treat problems, but how to interact with patients as well,” said Schoming.

Even though the students can advance into different specializations of physical therapy, the common bond of wanting to rehabilitate clients back into a functional state is apparent. It is evident that all physical therapy students, regardless of program or specialization, must have a sense of compassion and caring for each of the patients they may come across.