By: Kelsey Dubia
We can all relate on the fact that when we were given this task of a capstone project most of us had little to no idea of what we wanted to do. I am a fresh brand new face among the Interdisciplinary Studies major and for me I was thrown right into the Intro class and the Seminar class at the same time. To say this was a whirlwind is an understatement.
In one class, I was beginning the process of being an IDS major, and in the other I was being told to wrap up my major and work on my capstone. Now, this isn’t impossible! There are a couple students that get thrown into both courses at the same time. But because of this, coming up with this project wasn’t the easiest process.
After discussing my major with various students and professors, we came to the conclusion that I am very career oriented. Even though most disagree that this shouldn’t be my main focus in school, I am here to get the job and want to do all I can to work directly with people who can help me get that job. So, that is precisely what my applied project ended up being. Why not observe with a professional outside of the school and get that experience?
The main struggle I had with this was how my project reflected on the community and the world. This project seems as though it was made just for me and it only benefits myself. But by sitting down and writing about this, I realize that by introducing myself to those in the human and health performance field, I am showing others that they have just as much access to these professionals as I do. Sometimes I feel like we think internships are the only way for us to get into the professional world and work side by side with them. But with this project, I was able to reach out and spend multiple days watching and learning from a Physical Therapist. Any student can reach out to a professional and try to gain insight and experience with them whether it is for a class or not. This observation project is showing students that you don’t have to be far into your degree to get an inside look at what you could potentially be doing.
By following through with this shadowing, I was able to apply what I was learning in my current classes and get a first hand look at how that knowledge is applied. By reading about this project of mine, students can realize that they too can connect with professionals early on to spend a day(s) in the life of them. Not only did doing this make me realize I am in the right major, but it also made me realize that I am excited to learn more. It brought me closer to that end goal of having a job whether that is at a clinic such as where I did my observations, or with a sports team/school.
So how does this project relate to my major? I came to Plymouth wanting to major in Athletic Training. As I was transferring in, I was told I should finish out my Bachelors Degree as an Interdisciplinary Studies Major and in turn apply for the Graduate Program for Athletic Training. My program is made up of Athletic Training and Social Sciences to create my major of Health Sciences. I have worked with various Athletic Trainers here at the school for observation hours and wanted to stray away from that a little bit. That is where observing with a Physical Therapist came about. I wanted to get an alternative profession that was still related to my major, but that could also teach me techniques I hadn’t been shown yet. In doing this, it made me realize that I have gained more insight and experience from these observations and shadowing than from the classroom. Yes, the classroom gives you the basic tools and skills that you need to accomplish and utilize the information you have been given. Receiving education outside of the classroom is a massive advantage that every student should try and incorporate into their educational careers.
Strengths: This project helped me create connections I would not have had otherwise. I have gained confidence in approaching random strangers and creating those relationships that could potentially help me after graduation. It has also given me additional information on various techniques that Physical Therapists have that I can cross over into the Athletic Training field once I am certified.
Challenges: The only real challenge with this project was the timing and scheduling. I am a student who has had to overload on classes for the whole 2017-18 school year. So giving up what little free time I had made it a little difficult as well as coordinating with Dr. Childs on the various days I could come in and observe with him. The other challenge I had to overcome was being comfortable with going to his place of work and just meeting someone new and not knowing what I’m doing. I gained a lot of knowledge from this experience but I also was overwhelmed at times with all the information coming my way. I would be lying if I said I understood every piece of information that was thrown at me.
Outcomes: Over all I am very happy with the experience that I have obtained from this. In the beginning, I really wanted to observe with multiple professions that were related to the field of human and health performance. But after my first observation with Dr. Childs, I felt so comfortable asking questions and sounding dumb that I wanted to continuously go back to observe with him. So even though I preferred the observations with him and was happy with that, if I had to change something it would have been to try and observe with others as well. That change would have been more for the outcome of the project and to give more information to the reader, but selfishly I was content with how it turned out. This project has shown me that getting to where I want to be in the future is accessible and that all you need to do is reach out and use your resources to make it happen.