Physical therapy students discuss profession with high schoolers

July 22, 2021

Quinnipiac physical therapy students show local teens some of the exercises they might do with patients someday

Growing up in New Jersey, Jasmine Solomon participated in track and field, volleyball and basketball.

“I thought I was going to be the next Candace Parker,” Solomon said, referring to the WNBA superstar.

Instead, a minor injury changed her career path. Solomon had a great physical therapist, which led to a job shadow opportunity.

“I loved how no treatment was the same,” said Solomon, a physical therapy graduate student at Quinnipiac University. “That experience solidified that I wanted to go into PT.”

Solomon hopes others will follow her lead. On Tuesday, she was one of five Quinnipiac students who visited the Keefe Community Center to speak to Hamden High School students enrolled in the center’s Neighborhood Ambassadors pilot program.

The visit was part of the American Physical Therapy Association’s “PT Moves Me” campaign, which is designed to raise awareness of the profession of physical therapy, recruit the next generation of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, and increase diversity within the applicant pool, and ultimately, the profession.

Quinnipiac is the only university in the state involved in the campaign, according to Julie Booth, clinical associate professor of physical therapy and associate director of clinical education for physical therapy.

“We want the Hamden students to learn about the physical therapy profession,” Booth said. “A lot of kids want to get into the medical profession. They know about doctors and nurses, but we want to let them know that becoming a physical therapist, physical therapist assistant or physical therapist aide is an option.”

Tuesday’s information session included a video presentation about the physical therapy profession as well as an obstacle course that incorporated different exercises and stretches.

“A physical therapist can help you recover from your injury,” Quinnipiac PT graduate student Morgan Gelfand told the younger students. “That’s a big part of what we do as well as injury prevention.”

Azaria Woolfolk, a junior at Hamden High, said she saw a physical therapist after she was involved in a car accident.

“I knew a little bit about physical therapy, but the Quinnipiac students showed me a little bit more,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about becoming an EMT, but physical therapy is definitely interesting.”

Cameron Joyner, who oversees the Neighborhood Ambassadors program at the Keefe Community Center, said his program emphasizes the importance of community involvement and lending a helping hand.

“We want to give our students new experiences and new ideas,” he said. “Maybe listening to the Quinnipiac students will spark an interest in physical therapy.”

That certainly is the goal of the Quinnipiac’s “PT Moves Me” campaign.

“Do you like helping people?” Solomon asked. “Physical therapy is a great career choice. You get to help people every day.”

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