Forum: Adults / College

Major for Interest in Dance Physical Therapy?
By stellar_dancer
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 04:57 PM

I am currently a Freshman and a Dance major as a BA but I want to apply to be in the BFA program for Dance Performance.

I am also very interested in Physical Therapy and specifically for dancers. I was planning on doing a double major in biology but the program at my college is very competitive to get into and you have to complete it in 4 years which I wasn't sure I could do with dance. Then I considered doing Public Health major but I just don't love it that much; this quarter I am taking Public Health 1 and it doesn't excite me and I felt I was almost forcing myself to do it so I could have a double major.

My questions are to be competitive for Doctor of Physical Therapy programs do I need a science major? Will a science major look better than just a dance major? Or would having a minor in biology and meeting all of the prerequisites be enough?

I know that DPT schools are very competitive to get into. I know that I do still love dancing and the BFA is something I really want to do and I don't want to sacrifice that either. But I still want to do something outside of dance since I love science and am very interested in physical therapy.

Thank you in advance :)

2 Replies to Major for Interest in Dance Physical Therapy?

re: Major for Interest in Dance Physical Therapy?
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 07:41 PM
If you want to be a physical therapist, I would major in biology. It will cover all your requirements for physical therapy school and prepare you better IMO. I would either cut back on the dance classes or find a different college if yours isn't the right fit for what your goals are. Your minor probably isn't that important, but if you want to minor in dance, I'm sure that's fine. I would also look at other related classes like health care administration. You would be surprised how much of medical care is paperwork and having a background in that could be very helpful. If you haven't shadowed physical therapists I would highly recommend it. Many dancers and other athletes want to work in physical therapy to help other dancers and athletes. But for most therapists, the jobs they get will be helping regular people who have had various injuries from accidents, and many will be the elderly. If you only want to work only with dancers no matter what, I would rethink if it's the right career for you. It's very difficult to limit yourself to a specific type of patient in the medical field, especially when you are starting out (first 5-10 years or so after graduating). I"m not trying to dissuade you but make sure you know what the job might actually entail away from the "dream". The more shadowing you do, as well as informational interviews etc will help you decide what's best for you. Spring breaks are a great time to do that. I have a senior from my alma mater coming to stay with during spring break in a few weeks while she explores job opportunities in the city I live. Take advantage of programs like that at your school. Internships are also great, even if it's just administrative you'll learn a lot by listening to what is happening around you. Good luck!
re: Major for Interest in Dance Physical Therapy?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 09:48 PM
When I was 15, I had knee surgery, and went to a physical therapist office that prided themselves on having therapist that specialized in different sorts of injuries. So like, one specialized in football injuries, one in dance, one in...whatever. Horseback riding. Whatever. I did the majority of my therapy with the football specialist - they didn't bother inquiring about the sort of dance I did, and whether the football specialist made sense. It wasn't until they asked how I hurt myself that they released me to the dance therapist.

But you know what? Don't kid yourself for a second in to thinking that he had enough business to stay in patients solely in his "specialty". Even though he claimed dance as his specialty, he had to know how to fix those football injuries just as well as anybody.

Plus there's the randoms - my brother in law actually is a physical therapist. I remember one particular case I heard about - he had to teach a guy to walk again essentially, after the guy received third degree burns walking barefoot on the beach on vacation. I'm positive that that wasn't what he imagined when he was hitting the books!

So be realistic, which I think is what ^ was also pointing out. You won't get enough work just as a dance therapist, you'll have to branch out.
re: Major for Interest in Dance Physical Therapy?
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:28 AM
Dance was my major motivating factor when getting into physical therapy, and I agree 100% with Theresa and Moonlitefairy06.

I've been working for a few months now, and I think I've seen 1, maybe 2, dancers. I'm not working very hard to market myself in that industry quite yet, though; I want more experience before I say that I "specialize" in dancers.

You really do see a WHOLE range of conditions. In Canada (and my province specifically), my caseload primarily consists of MVA (motor vehicle accidents), WCB (Worker's Compensation Board - people injured while working), CHR (people provided government funded PT after a broken bone, surgery, etc by our health care system) and then private payers with musculoskeletal injuries.

But also know that private practice is only one area of PT. PTs also work in hospitals and acute care, as well as rehabilitation centers. Cardiorespiratory PT deals with patients with lung and heart conditions. You people clear the secretions in their lungs, mobilize after deconditioning and help manage their chronic conditions (cystic fibrosis, COPD, congestive heart failure, etc.) Then there's near PT which helps people recover from neurological injuries. This includes rehab for patients that have suffered from strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, etc. This is where you may be teaching people how to walk again, or sometimes they will remain wheelchair bound and you need to teach them to be as independent as their condition will allow.

You will learn all three of those areas of PT in school, and some schools may specialize in one more than another. My school (University of Alberta) was a generalist program, so we spent equal time in all areas. And you will be required to participate in practicums and placements in all areas, regardless of which area you prefer.

When it comes to your undergrad, I did kinesiology (might be called human kinetics in the states? I'm not sure). I actually found it to be extremely helpful in preparing me for PT. You learn a LOT about exercise prescription, which for any area of PT is your bread and butter. You learn about physiology and the body's response to exercise, as well as a ton about exercise psychology, anatomy and other areas that really transfer. I'm not sure about in the states, but in Canada, your GPA is your biggest determining factor if you'll get into PT. So, I would suggest that you find a undergrad degree that you're passionate about but that you can also excel in. No point is doing a very difficult degree if you aren't going to get good grades in it.

Let me know if you have any other questions about PT school or kinesiology! I'm happy to help you out. PT school is extremely challenging, but I absolutely LOVE what I do!


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