Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Thomas (Tommy) DiFilippo
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Physical Education/Athletic Training
Graduate Degree Type:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree, from Nazareth College, Class of 2018
Contact Me:  tdifilippo5@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school pathway: what impacted your decision?

In reality, the first part of the decision is based on admission. Don’t down play this, it is hard to get accepted into these graduate programs. After that, I reached out to professionals in the area to get a sense of the reputation of the program, cost of private vs. public etc. as well as extras or perks that set the school apart.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge is the academic rigor and time commitment. It can be more challenging than undergrad to work, balance a social life, etc. I found it crucial to do other things with my life to “escape” physical therapy for a little because in graduate school it can be all you think or do.

What was your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part was networking and working with people all interested in the same field. This is the point where you truly choose what exact route you want to go and you take classes and meet professionals with the same interests.

What have you enjoyed most about your work post-graduation?

Putting 7 years of education into practice and having patients trust you immediately made it very rewarding.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Do your research. Shadow, talk to people in multiple jobs, think hard about career goals. These programs are very time consuming and very expensive. Make sure you want to be that type of professional and then commit 100%.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Alexandria Nickles
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2017
Denison Major:  Biology
Professional School:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy from High Point University, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  alexandria.nickles1@gmail.com


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I definitely spent a lot of time talking to individuals who had gone through the process of applying to physical therapy school before me to gain advice on how to proceed moving forward. Their advice helped guide me into understanding the process a little better and helped prepare me early on in my Denison career to make sure I could attend PT school right after graduation. I also was fortunate enough to apply to schools that had interviews so I was able to explore different campuses before I made my final decision.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I faced many challenges applying to graduate school. One of those challenges was trying to show schools all of the wonderful things that I learned at Denison beyond my GPA. I definitely worked a lot with mentors at Denison and mentors within my desired field to help edit my application to make sure that was showcasing my diverse experiences from my undergraduate degree. Future, I also struggled with knowing if physical therapy was exactly the way I wanted to go with my career as went into my junior and senior years at Denison. To make sure, I actually spent a lot of time with alumni of Denison and my mentors at Denison talking through my options. They were the best sounding board of reflecting what my career goals were with my interests.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

My favorite part of my graduate school experience was getting to attend a medical mission trip to Jamaica this summer. I was able to go down with a few of my classmates and my mentor here at High Point for a week and a half to provide care to patients with neurological conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. I had a completely life changing experience through learning about many different clinical techniques, the importance of inter-collaborative patient care, the cultural differences that exist in the medical field worldwide, and through all the people that I met.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post graduation, I plan on finding a job as a physical therapist in a hospital system, hopefully specifically a hospital with an inpatient rehabilitation facility. I hope to continue to pursue mentorship and education wherever I work to someday hopefully become a clinical instructor and maybe a faculty member at physical therapy program.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Definitely start looking into programs that you think that you want to attend early in your career. It will help you plan out classes that you want to take throughout your Denison career so when it does come time to apply you don’t have to take classes outside your Denison education. I would also recommend reaching out to your Denison mentors and asking their advice when it comes to what you personally should look for in a graduate program. They are full of knowledge and can help you prioritize a list of characteristics in schools that fit your learning style best.