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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Beutel fills experience gap for aspiring physical therapists

Ashley+Taylor+and+Emily+Chapman%2C+kinesiology+majors%2C+volunteer+under+physical+therapist%2C+Kyle+Greeley%2C+at+the+Beutel+clinic+to+gain+experience+in+the+field
Photo by Photo by: Wesley Holmes

Ashley Taylor and Emily Chapman, kinesiology majors, volunteer under physical therapist, Kyle Greeley, at the Beutel clinic to gain experience in the field

A decade-old volunteer program at the A.P. Beutel Health Center gives students a hands-on experience with physical therapy and an opportunity to pursue their career passion. 
One of the volunteers, biology junior Adam Hoff, was contemplating his career path when a tear to his labrum, or cartilage, brought him to the Physical Therapy Clinic in Beutel. He said the experience and ability to connect with other students attracted him to the volunteer program. 
“I was actually a patient the semester before I volunteered, and so I decided that I wanted to do physical therapy instead of pre-med over the summer,” Hoff said. “Then I thought, ‘This would be a great place to be, and the people are pretty cool too.’” 
Kyle Greeley, chief physical therapist and supervisor of the volunteers, said the program has volunteers, student workers and interns.
Volunteers at the clinic are responsible for cleaning up after a patient’s therapy is finished, but a big part of their work also involves shadowing physical therapists and learning from their experiences. Greeley said he sometimes hires his volunteers as student workers so they can have more involvement with the patients and the process.
“Student workers do more of clerical stuff and hands-on stuff with documentation, scheduling, answering phones and making sure the equipment is out,” Greeley said. “The biggest thing is gaining knowledge of what therapists do for people. It helps them a lot because everything they learn in the clinical setting, they are learning in the classroom too, and so they get to marry the two.” 
Student worker and kinesiology sophomore Emily Chapman said the program has allowed her to engage in the process of healing — something she finds very rewarding
“My favorite part is interacting with patients, and what I love about physical therapy is that they come in and they are hurt or have injuries or pain or whatever it may be, but by the time they leave and we are done with them, they are better than the first day than when they came in,” Chapman said. “I love watching the process of healing and seeing all their hard work pay off.” 
Aside from the basic knowledge needed to succeed in the field, she said the interactions with patients provide a way to increase her communication skills. 
“It’s not only learning information about certain injuries and therapy, but how to interact with other people while remaining professional — but also being a therapist patients are comfortable around and trust,” Chapman said. 
Kinesiology senior Ashley Falls said she enjoyed the experience of volunteering and being a student worker so much that she is finishing her degree by fulfilling her required intern period at Beutel.  Although she was introduced to the program in her junior year, Falls said those looking into the field should pursue opportunities early and in a multitude of places. 
“Honestly try to volunteer as many places as you can,” Falls said. “There are a lot of places that offer different experiences and you get to see a lot of different therapists and how they work.” 
Greeley said programs like the clinic’s are essential for getting ahead in the field. 
“The students that went on and became PTs, I would be willing to bet their PT programs were not as difficult had they gone through something like our program,” Greeley said. “We have quite a few — like 30 to 50 people — go on to PT school that have volunteered at the clinic.”
Hoff, Chapman and Falls said interacting with patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of the opportunity, and they appreciate having a place to improve their skills and prepare themselves for their future careers. 
“I am very thankful for [the volunteer program] and just working here has solidified my passion for physical therapy and made me more sure of what I want to do,” Chapman said. “So I am very thankful for that and I am thankful for the connections I made with other workers and volunteers and my boss.”

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