Jenna Hoeh is a rising senior and has participated in the Health Externship Program, through the Center for Global Health, for two semesters. She says her experiences in the classroom, especially learning from Adjunct Professor Jason Rusznak in exercise science and then seeing him in action at his practice, Cutting Edge Physical Therapy, have been formative in solidifying her determination to pursue Physical Therapy.
All right so we’re talking with Jenna today – can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your chosen career path?
So I’m a rising senior and I am planning on double majoring in biology and exercise science and going into PT. I am very interested in how the body works, especially considering how a pain might originate at one point, but may travel through your whole body, resulting in other injuries or issues. It’s the kind of thing that I have experienced in the past as an athlete and had to go to trainers and a PT for. I was fascinated by my own injuries and wanted to hear every explanation of why they were occurring. I looked forward to going to college so I could start to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of the body.
How have you interacted with the Center for Global Health?
As a freshman, I didn’t really know much about the center. I’m pretty sure I saw an advertisement for the Health Externship Program on the TVs and signed up for it. It was later that I learned about applying to an internship and externship, meeting with a Peer Mentor, and stuff like that. I learned everything about the Physical Therapy pathway through the CGH where I got to do my externship. Honestly, I would not know what to do at all without being able to easily set up a meeting with anyone, including my advisor, who also always recommended that I go to the Center for Global Health for questions about my next step.
How has your participation in the Health Externship program helped you with the career discernment process?
I met Jason [Rusznak] through Earlham. He was my professor at first but then when I shadowed him, he interviewed me consistently throughout his daily work. With every patient, he pulled me aside and explained to me everything that he was doing and why he was doing it. He asked me questions and quizzed me because I was his student first. I got a one-on-one experience with a full-time PT, who owns his own clinic, which I thought was really awesome. He also introduced me to someone back home at a sports facility where Olympians train. I got to shadow and talk to him for a long time about his journey through school and the possible pathways I could choose for my own journey. He also said that if I ever need a recommendation to let him know and wished me luck!
Because of your participation in this program, were you introduced to any additional career pathways?
I learned all about becoming a PT Aide which is a quicker pathway and doesn’t take nearly as much schooling. It is a great option as you are able to still do a lot of the same things.
Has this interaction/programming enhanced or informed your work from the classroom
Absolutely, when I went to Cutting-Edge, Jason kept asking me all these questions and although it was stuff we learned in class, I wasn’t fully sure how to apply it to the body yet. But then it was explained exactly to me why a certain movement of the body, whether it was flexion, extension, or rotation does this or that. You often learn the terms and about the movements but you don’t learn the importance or the significance of them until you can observe them being used in real-time. I think that’s something that just being there in person does. It’s what made this a very positive experience for me – I learned a lot.
What is the best part of this program? What else would you like to see from it moving forward – how will this help you for your next steps?
I have always really appreciated the accessibility of the program. Anybody has the ability to walk into the CoLab and talk to the first person they see and they will help you get to where you need to be. It also reaches a very wide array of areas which I thought was really cool and important because if I wanted to go through a different shadowing experience in another field I could do so easily. I also love that because not everyone knows what path they want to follow, so it allows students to get a feel for different areas and be better prepared to decide their future passions. One thing I found, for my program at least, when we would be assigned the same hours and the same days every week, we would tend to see the same people. This was helpful to see the growth but not always to see variety.
Tell us a little bit about what’s next for you.
Right now I’m studying for the GRE because I have to take it before I start applying to schools in October. There is one more prerequisite that I have to complete to graduate, and then also to qualify for PT school. In the next couple of months, I’m hoping to use my EPIC [Advantage] over winter break to do an intensive job shadow and gain additional hours.