Students discuss interest in health field during National Physical Therapy Month


Design by Maria Albers

Taking place in October, National Physical Therapy Month aims to bring attention to the field of physical therapy. Kinesiology and Health Club and Pre-Physical Therapy Club are two student organizations at Iowa State that extend their knowledge on the field during this month and onward.

Julia Benda

The month of October is National Physical Therapy Month to raise awareness about physical therapy and its benefits. Students at Iowa State take part in exploring the field of physical therapy throughout the month of October and beyond.

Student organizations such as Kinesiology and Health Club and Pre-Physical Therapy Club share an interest in discovering more about aspects of physical therapy. These clubs connect with resources to learn more about physical therapy school, the different areas of physical therapy and the profession as a whole.

Samantha Henning, senior in kinesiology and health, is the president of Iowa State’s Pre-Physical Therapy Club and said she is also a personal trainer on campus. Henning said this has opened her eyes to another aspect of health and all that is available in the health field. Henning said the club brings in multiple physical therapy programs from within a three hour radius of Iowa State.

The Pre-Physical Therapy Club has guest speakers attend each meeting. The clubs also give students the chance to talk with one another about why they are interested in physical therapy and what they would like to do in their career.

“I actually had my own physical therapy after a surgery that I had way back in high school,” Henning said. “And that kind of sparked my interest in the field and all the physical therapists there noticed how interested I was and everything, so they offered me a part-time job as a rehabilitation aid.”

Nicholas Dilley, freshman in kinesiology and health, said his goal is to learn about the physical therapy field as a whole. Dilley said he spent a lot of time with a physical therapist and liked the idea of helping someone get better and back to action.

“That whole [physical therapy] field is really interesting to me,” Dilley said. “I recently started a health and wellness committee in my fraternity and [we are] trying to focus on every aspect of health and wellness.”

Dilley said he had the chance to work with emergency medicine prior to arriving at Iowa State. He had the opportunity to work side by side with health professionals in emergency situations.

“I got to do a lot of anatomy and kind of spur of the moment anatomy,” Dilley said. “I had a guy that was in a motorcycle accident and I could [put] my hands on his hips and feel his shattered pelvis shifting around and just [get] to work with doctors and even physical therapists in the hospital that would come into the room and you could talk to them.”

Some students discover their passion for the physical therapy profession through family members who are health professionals.

Emily Samman, sophomore in kinesiology and health, said she wanted to be a nurse when she was in high school. Samman obtained her Certified Nursing Assistant license but said she wasn’t sure if it was what she really wanted to do, although she still thought she was interested in a health profession.

“My cousin is a physical therapist, so I shadowed him last year over winter break and fell in love with [physical therapy] there,” Samman said. “I was like, ‘Okay this is exactly what I want to do,’ especially with the people interaction […]. I really enjoy interacting with people and I really think the human body is really fascinating.”

Tim Vander Wilt, physical therapist at the Ames Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy clinic and Ames clinic manager, attended a Kinesiology and Health Club meeting to share his experience and advice with the students.

Vander Wilt obtained a degree in exercise science from Central College and then earned his master of science degree in physical therapy from Des Moines University.

“Get a variety of experience so that you guys are prepared,” Vander Wilt said. “When they go and they interview you for [physical therapy] school they want to see that you’ve had different experiences and different settings.”

Vander Wilt also talked about the work he does at the Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy clinic in Ames. He discussed the variety of issues treated at the clinic.

“What we generally see in our clinic is everything,” Vander Wilt said. “Low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain — whatever you can think of.”

Vander Wilt also discussed physical therapy school and provided his personal insight as to what students can expect in the future of the physical therapy field and the professions that are part of it.

“Most people get jobs once you get out of school,” Vander Wilt said. “There’s a pretty high demand for [physical therapists] and I think it’s only going to get better in the future. Everything health care wise is going towards preventative and exercise-based stuff, so we probably have pretty good job security.”

Samman said she likes to hear about the various focuses people in the physical therapy profession have.

“There’s a lot of different areas of physical therapy,” Samman said. “So, hearing from the different areas is really important to get a well-rounded view of what [physical therapy] is.”

Dilley said he liked the idea of working with sports medicine and helping athletes when recovering from an injury to get them back to full health.

Henning said she plans to work with orthopedic sports medicine as she has the most exposure to it and enjoys the work. She is also interested in working with a wide range of ages with general injuries as well as geriatrics. “Geriatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on health promotion, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability in older adults,” according to American Medical Association.

“[I plan on] having a job that I enjoy going to everyday, where I feel like I am making a difference,” Samman said. “That’s what I loved about my clinicals, too. We would see the same patients everyday and you could see the progression week to week.”

Henning is currently in the process of applying to physical therapy school and said she’ll see where it takes her.

“[With physical therapy,] there’s always opportunities and a ton of different settings that you can be in, so just because you don’t think you want to work in a hospital, there is a lot of other settings that you can choose to work in,” Henning said.

Vander Wilt said after students complete physical therapy school and are searching for a job, it is important for students to find a clinic that fits their personality.

According to Iowa State’s Thielen Student Health Center, Iowa State offers physical therapy for students and faculty that need rehabilitation for injuries or illness. The department of physical therapy and sports medicine is located in on the second level of the Thielen Student Health Center.

For more information visit Iowa State’s Thielen Student Health Center website. To schedule an appointment, call (515) 294-2626. Direct questions can be emailed to [email protected].