As I finish my fellowship at the University of St. Augustine, I reflect upon the intensity of this past year and how I have arrived at this point in my career. As a farm boy growing up in SW Louisiana, I never thought I would be involved with an institutional setting such as USA, training with the leading clinicians and pioneers of the physical therapy profession. Being a true cowboy, rodeo was one of my high school sports. I always thought that I would someday become a veterinarian. Through experiences and life’s lessons I was redirected to have a passionate mind and spirit towards helping people. Therefore, I chose the profession of physical therapy and since then I have never looked back. I could not be happier.
After graduating from USA in 2007, I practiced for two and half years in Destin, Florida in a private manual physical therapy setting. This is where I developed the many various skills of a working clinician and learned from the clinic’s highly experienced practitioners. I then decided that I wanted to be more than just a salary physical therapist, but my direction was not very clear. I took a month off and went to Peru for some physical therapy mission work. This trip made me realize an important component to my new goal as a professional: “give a man a fish and feed him for the day, but teach a man to fish and he will be hungry no more.” From this point, I knew that teaching was something that I was very interested in and I wanted to continue to grow as a manual physical therapist. The Fellowship program here at the USA had this complete package.
The Fellowship is definitely one of the most intense endeavors I’ve ever experienced and by far the most beneficial. Being trained by eight mentors everyday is essentially like being in a practical/examination eight hours a day, with the combination of extra didactic work and teaching. Although I’ve only been practicing for four years, this fellowship has advanced my ability as a very diverse clinician with the expert experience that all of my mentors have shared with me. Teaching is truly a skill that is difficult to master, but probably the most rewarding. If one really wants to know the content of any subject well, then one should try to teach it. I feel that this dynamic set-up is what makes the University of St. Augustine’s Fellowship program unique and sets it apart from other fellowship programs.
The Fellowship helped me discover this new passion for clinical teaching, thus helping me decide to take 10 students with me to Nicaragua for a physical and occupational therapy mission trip last month. There we served the local surf community of the west coast, treating musculoskeletal conditions.
I now plan to utilize the skills and knowledge that I have developed in this fellowship program by continuing to practice as a skilled manual therapist and reach out even further as an educator in this area of my profession.