First Year Student Journal: Jessica Mah, SPT

Entry #1

I love team-based environments and after switching professions I wanted to continue in a similar setting. While I was ecstatic to learn that Duke’s DPT program excels at team-based learning, I discovered that the program offers something just as powerful: community.

During orientation, we engaged with DPT leadership and faculty members that play critical roles in our development throughout the program. Over the course of the semester the faculty demonstrated their expertise of the material and desire to share their knowledge with students. It was clear that the leadership and faculty were invested in our success and encouraged us to exceed their expectations. Additionally, there were several teaching assistants, guest lecturers and physical therapists that supplemented our classroom learning. As practicing physical therapists and professionals with several years of experience, I enjoyed hearing their insights and being inspired by their passion for the field of physical therapy. We’ve also had the opportunity to meet second year students who shared advice and best practices on how to navigate the challenging curriculum. It was extremely helpful to converse with students who were in our shoes not too long ago. After just one semester I’ve gotten a glimpse of how extensive the Duke DPT program community is and it’s so wonderful to be a part of it!

It would be very remiss of me to not discuss the core of my community here at Duke: my fellow classmates. We are a group of people of different backgrounds that get to guide, encourage and celebrate one another throughout this three-year journey. Thus far it has been everything from rigorous and demanding to rewarding and inspiring. Fortunately for me, my classmates have been an unyielding source of support both inside and outside the classroom. Whether it is breaking down difficult concepts, surviving Campout, practicing palpation, watching the Duke men’s basketball team work magic, thinking critically through patient cases, exploring shared interests with Student Interest Groups (SIGs), learning how to analyze gait or getting to know each other over lunch, I have thoroughly enjoyed building a community with them! We’ve experienced so much already and I look forward to navigating the next five semesters together.

I’m amazed at the various opportunities to build community after just one semester. I’ve been able to learn both inside and outside the classroom, explore the different types of specialties in our profession, and develop relationships with individuals throughout this community. Without a doubt, this environment has catalyzed my growth as a physical therapy student and made a significant impact on my future career as a physical therapist.