Ever since I was in elementary school, I was interested in science and I knew that I wanted to help people. In high school, I had many different career paths in mind which were all in the healthcare field, such as an orthopedic surgeon, a physician assistant, physical therapist, athletic trainer, and chiropractor. Because I was not 100% sure what path I wanted to pursue, I wanted to keep my options open and get exposed to different things so I decided to major in Health Science with a concentration in Exercise Science.
During undergrad, I sought out opportunities that would expose me to the different career paths that I had in mind. During my sophomore year of college, I started to work as a medical scribe in an emergency department. This was a great opportunity as it really helped me determine what I truly wanted to do and showed me the things that I valued in a profession.
As a scribe, I was responsible for taking notes during patient interviews, writing up the medical chart, and assisting with the flow of patients through the emergency department. As you can imagine, I worked very closely with MDs, DOs, and physician assistants. One thing I realized is that the doctors and PAs did not get the opportunity to truly get to know their patients. It was more so one and done. The patient would come in and speak with the doctor or PA for about 15-20 minutes and then they were discharged. It was as if patients were just a number. I found this very appalling but at the same time, it is understandable due to the dynamic of the emergency room setting where things are very fast-paced. Nonetheless, it was not for me.
Another thing that I realized that I valued in a profession was getting to the root cause of a problem, which I feel like as a country our health system fails miserably at and ultimately results in people resorting to medications and passive treatment for relief.
While in the emergency department, patients would come in with shoulder, neck, or back pain, and the doctors/PAs would prescribe them a pain medication and send them on their way. Although painkillers are effective in providing short term relief, they do not provide a long term solution to the actual underlying issue and the long term effects significantly outweigh the short term benefits. And besides, in most cases, medications are not even needed for musculoskeletal conditions. Not everything needs to be treated with medication and in most cases, MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE!
I chose PT because I wanted to be in a profession that promotes health and wellness, fitness, and prevention of disease and disability, without an emphasis on pharmacological agents. As a physical therapist, we are equipped with the knowledge to determine the root cause of someone’s problem and provide a natural solution. We succeed where painkillers fail.