"I really enjoy working with elderly patients. It is very rewarding to see improvement and help them attain a better quality of life."

Role Model Photo Julie Pickle

Health Field: Physical Therapist

Number of years in the profession:
30 year

Years in College: 5 years

Professional Credentials:

How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
I was interested in a career in the medical field. My mom is a nurse, and my dad is a pharmacist. I considered medical school, but physical therapy seemed to be a better fit for me. It offers flexibility with time for family and other interests.

What other careers did you consider?
I actually am also a teacher.

What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
As mentioned previously, my parents had careers in the medical field, so I was exposed to nursing and pharmacy. My high school boyfriend injured his knee playing football, and I was able to see what physical therapy was all about during his rehabilitation. I always enjoyed science classes in school, and I like to know how the body works.

What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
Initially I researched physical therapy in a career book in my high school office. During college I was able to work at the local hospital in the physical therapy department on the weekends.

What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
I was fortunate to have the resources and the family support to go straight through college and then physical therapy school. It was a challenge to apply for and then be accepted to PT school, and classes there were much harder than regular college courses.

How did you overcome these challenges?
I did have the needed financial resources and the support of a husband and family, but it was also very helpful to receive and to give support to my classmates in the physical therapy program.

Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?

Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? Yes

Present Career as a Physical Therapist

Describe an average work day for you.
I teach physical therapy students at McLennan Community College. Each morning I arrive, work a bit on my computer checking emails and responding to phone calls. I do quite a bit of advising students who are interested in attending the physical therapist assistant program. I teach classes, and most of them include lab time where the students are instructed in physical therapy skills. They practice on one another, and they must pass lab tests as well as regular classroom tests. Many times on school holidays I work as a physical therapist at a local skilled nursing facility. While there, I am assigned to evaluate patients. I initially get to know them through the medical record/chart, and then I assess and evaluate each patient according to his/her needs and problems. I am responsible for writing up the evaluation and setting the goals and treatment plan, and many times I work with and supervise a PT assistant in providing physical therapy for the patient.

How many hours do you work in an average week?

What kind of health care setting do you work in?
I teach in the community college. I do physical therapy work in a skilled nursing facility.

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Good communication skills, including listening. Interest in working with people . Ability to understand basic knowledge about the body and how it works. A caring attitude. Self-responsibility.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I really enjoy working with elderly patients. It is very rewarding to see improvement and help them attain a better quality of life. I also enjoy working with students. To actually see how much they learn each semester and then to witness their progress in passing the state board exam and working as PTAs is very rewarding. I also like the choices I get to make about where I want to work and what I want to do with my patients.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Study hard in school; take extra science; learn about yourself, your interests, how you learn best; and learn to be responsible for your own learning

If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
Yes. I enjoy what I do. I have lots of options for jobs in different settings. The pay is good. I enjoy working with patients and with other rehab staff members.

Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
Since PT school, I have gone back to college to earn a Master's degree in education. A requirement for continued licensure is 30 hours of continuing education every two years, and those courses help me to stay current in knowledge and practice.

View Other Professionals in this Field
Pickle  | Barnett  | Charles  |
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