Jacob Catano Physical Therapy Pre Grad Intern
Jacob Mitchell Catano

IE Program Final Reflection

I would like to preface my essay by saying that I am eternally grateful for having heard of this IE pre-grad program. Being surrounded by students who share my drive to attend graduate school has been such a blessing. This program is host to an outstanding group of individuals and I very much do hope that all of my colleagues carry on and pursue their dreams following their undergraduate careers.

In hindsight, at the beginning of the semester I genuinely did not understand what was necessary to get selected for graduate school. I have gone through a lot of maturity since I have first attended the University of Texas at Austin, but I firmly believe that this semester has been the climax of my maturation. I have made a lot of difficult choices this semester, and only a few of those decisions were actually related to my academics. College is not solely about academics. A true college experience deals with more than just growth of the mind, but also of character, discovery of self-identity, and, lastly, the ability to comfortably make tough decisions. Consequently, I have learned that I cannot let failure discourage me from achieving what my dreams are.

Over the course of the semester, my mentor Benjamin Pollack has always been receptive to all of my worries and questions concerning graduate school. Additionally, despite how worrisome I can be, Benjamin has always confided and believed in me. Ben has encouraged me to become more proactive and to take full responsibility of my future. Simply put, I cannot sit around and expect success to venture into my life. I have to actively take the right steps to ensure that I am successful. For example, Ben and I have discussed strategies on how to perform well during a graduate school interview, and in order to put the strategies to good use, I made an appointment with a career counselor at the health professions office of UT. The health professions office in Painter Hall offers mock interviews to students who aspire to attend professional school, and earlier this semester I interviewed with one of the counselors at their office. I cannot say that I am adept at simulated graduate school interviews, but at least I can say that I have had the opportunity to practice.

Another decision that I have made this semester to better prepare myself for higher education was acquiring an internship as a physical therapy technician. This semester I have shadowed a physical therapist named Eric Finger in a clinic off of William Cannon (Concentra Urgent Care) that deals with workers compensation cases. The environment at Concentra Urgent is a bit unusual because many of the patients seemingly intend to prolong their therapy treatment. Being that these patients are still on their normal payrolls, it is apparent as to why many of them are unmotivated to leave the clinic. Accordingly, the tech job position has allowed me to observe the experience of working in a clinic with difficult patients, and also to observe how the physical therapist acts in situations involving clients who are not supportive in their own therapy.

It has been a challenge balancing school and work, but I believe it has helped me become better organized. I love being able to apply the concepts that I have learned in my current classes to the things that I observe in the clinic. Furthermore, it is nice to be able to work with professionals who were in my position not to long ago. Hence, I have been able to address a lot of my quandaries to Mr. Finger about my future career.

Currently, I intend on continuing my position as an intern at Concentra Urgent Care, but I also plan on acquiring a different job as a physical therapy technician in a clinic catered to Spanish speaking clients. My employer, Eric Finger, told me that the quickest way to become specialized in physical therapy is by familiarizing myself with a clinical environment. Over the course of the summer I intend on heeding my employer's advice by working two jobs, both of which reside in a physical therapy clinic.

In conclusion, I believe that my involvement in the IE pre-grad program has enabled me to perceive physical therapy school as a goal that does not seem as abstract anymore, but rather a goal of concrete existence. This has been an invaluable experience to me, and I am eternally grateful that my mentor Ben has taken the time out of his busy schedule to assure me that I am more capable than I make myself out to be. I have discovered that it is okay to feel uneasy about the future because it is perfectly normal. For example, during the interviews that I conducted this semester with my mentor and with members of UT faculty, I learned that many of those successful individuals emulated the nervous mindset that I have today. However, despite their anxiety about their future, each of those individuals made it to graduate school. I now understand that even though I still worry about what my future will consist of, in the words of my UT professor, Clint Tuttle, "Everything is going to be ok" because the stress that I experience is an indicator that I care.