‘One Step Back, Two Steps Forward’ – DPT Student Shaun Reddy Reflects on Foundation Internship and Insight from Combined Sections Meeting

‘One step back, two steps forward’ is an appropriate mantra to adopt when embarking on a career change and applying to graduate school. I was in the process of completing my DPT application in PTCAS and studying for the GRE when the internship opportunity at the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research presented itself. I applied and thankfully was offered the position. It proved to be a truly rewarding experience – one which I believe will result in two leaps forward into my new career as PT rather than two (measly) steps.

Ushering in the advent of change into one’s life most certainly brings self-doubt along with it. I experienced self-doubt about the decision to pursue the DPT degree for the typical reasons (e.g., money, time, etc.). Those self-doubts were greatly diminished over the course of my internship at the Foundation as it validated the passion and intuition that led me to consider the profession in the first place. The culminating experience related toward that end was preparing for and attending the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in Washington, DC. I met many of the grant and scholarship awardees, several pioneers within the PT field, countless DPT students, and practicing PTs. Consistent among the 16,000+ attendees was the shared passion for helping others move better to feel better – a passion that I unequivocally share.

The Foundation internship also clarified my specific career interests within the broad PT profession. Specifically, I am interested in advancing my manual therapy skills within the Sections of Orthopaedics or Sports. As a result, I have joined the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT), introduced myself to the AAOMPT President, and am planning to attend the upcoming AAOMPT conference later this year. I am also considering residencies within those Sections after graduation. I feel this insight, thanks to my experience at the Foundation, will help me maximize the graduate school experience to help realize my future career goals.

The takeaways I received from the internship experience could not have been possible without the great Foundation staff. They welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to stop by whenever I felt the need to ask questions, discuss suggestions, or address any concerns that may have presented themselves. I was always busy with meaningful tasks that spanned the various departments of the Foundation including the Scientific Programs, Communications, Fundraising, and Database Management. I executed various end-of-year mailings, helped prepare the grant recipients’ award packets, and was involved in the preparations for the APTA’s CSM in Washington, DC.

By far, the most indelible takeaway from my internship experience at the Foundation relates again to perspective… pretty much the notion about seeing the glass half-full versus half-empty. Change is difficult, yes, but is more difficult when focusing on the step back rather than the two steps forward. The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research helped me focus on the two steps forward. It’s always easier to step across the threshold of change when you know what’s waiting on the other side. Thank you to the Foundation and its staff for the invaluable shift in perspective.

Shaun Reddy is from Virginia Beach, VA and has lived in Washington, DC since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University in 2002 and a Master of Science in Exercise Science from George Washington University in 2011. He will begin his DPT studies at George Washington University in the spring of 2019.


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