Hi everyone! My name is Ashley and I graduated from Elon University with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2015. I would like to tell you about why I am grateful to be a physical therapist and why I am very proud that I chose Elon, or rather, that Elon chose me.
After attending a large University for my undergraduate studies in Exercise and Sport Science and Psychology, I was looking for a smaller, tight-knit community to explore my passion for movement science. While I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate experience, in a graduate program I sought an environment where I could make personal connections with faculty and peers while pursuing my intellectual passions. For me, Elon was that place. From the moment I set foot on Elon’s campus for a tour of their physical therapy facilities and program I knew that Elon was where I wanted to be. There are numerous reasons why I love Elon, but two that are most important and impressive to me are the people and their commitment to the community.
At Elon I found myself surrounded by professors who would go out of their way to see their students succeed. And not just to succeed, but to truly understand. I never felt myself to be “just another student”. Quite the contrary, I was treated with respect, as if I were a colleague or a friend. With professors’ doors always open to ask for, quite literally, a last minute question before an exam or just to stop by and say hello, Elon quickly fell into place as a home away from home.
Reflecting back on my three years at Elon, I’d be hard pressed to recall a professor or student who was not involved in community outreach in some capacity. Elon is a place that continually gives back to the community. During my time at Elon I was very involved with the H.O.P.E. Clinic which is a student run pro bono physical therapy clinic that serves those in Alamance County who are uninsured or underinsured. As students, this was an excellent way to apply our classroom knowledge in a clinical setting while serving those in our community. Local elementary school students spend time with Elon physical therapy students during Elon’s Bone and Backpacks program. The Bones and Backpacks program is an interactive way to teach children about their muscles and bones and the implications of carrying a backpack that is too heavy. We were also fortunate enough to host the Special Olympics Spring Games where we set up and manned activity stations with the goal of providing a healthy and fun environment in community with one another. Each of these programs has a common theme: using our knowledge and skills as students of physical therapy to give back to the community.
Here I am, over two years following my graduation from Elon. I am fortunate that I find myself surrounded by a very supportive work family who is passionate about putting the patient first. What I love about the physical therapy profession is that every day you are given the opportunity to touch someone’s life in a meaningful way. It is not uncommon to find yourself helping someone walk for the first time after a life-changing trauma or relieving someone of the pain they have experienced for the past five years. There will be days where you will spend time outside of your one on one treatment time to find the perfect community resource for that patient. These are the experiences that make physical therapy more than just a job. When you enter this profession, especially after your graduate experience at Elon, you quickly realize that you are not simply a physical therapist but you are a patient advocate, a motivator, and a friend. As a physical therapist you are often the healthcare provider that spends the greatest amount of uninterrupted one on one time with your patient. What an opportunity!
Quite often I hear from other practicing physical therapists that Elon physical therapy students are one step above. I may be a little biased, but reflecting upon my experiences at Elon, and for many more reasons than are listed above, I understand this comment. When it is your time to decide which physical therapy school to apply to, I hope you choose Elon. You will not regret it!