April, 2014

Reflection of my time as an Athletic Therapy student at Sheridan College


1st year seems like a “weed out” year. Although there is valuable information in first year, you have to put in the work to get to the fun AT stuff next year.

2nd year consists of anatomy, conditions and some emerge tools for our tool box, while meeting additions to our class (direct entries).

3rd year, A&R really adds to the tool box, which is really just a theoretical tool box we figure out. This is when everything seems to come together piece by piece.

4th year we get more tools and study less because the puzzle is essentially pieced together.

We start out with a certain number of classmates, losing some and gaining some along the way. AT is a difficult program to get through, but we graduate with an extensive amount of skills and knowledge. There are speed bumps that can occur along the way, whether it is educational or personal, that everyone has likely gone through.

My major speed bump happened two days prior to final exams of my 2nd year. I sustained a concussion and WAD in a car accident. It was this incident when I realized it is not only AT that is awesome, but the people in my program and professors as well. I was stressed and thought my AT dream was on hold or over. I thought I would fail 2nd year and be held back because I could barely open one eye, tension headaches were constant, migraines were frequent and I felt like a zombie. Writing exams for the next two weeks was out of the question. The day after the accident I had a meeting with a professor who insisted I speak to another professor well versed in concussion management to help guide me. She was not only there for me as an academic professor, but with genuine concern for my well-being. An excessive amount of stress was relieved from my shoulders after meeting in her office using up a box of tissues. I was able to rest with the help of my friend, who was also my classmate and roommate, and eventually complete my exams to pass 2nd year. That summer my symptoms did not completely resolve. Going into 3rd year, learning new material was incredibly difficult, material covered in 2nd year was hard to recall, and new material to build onto it was hard to keep in store. Throughout the next two years I had to put in extra work and manage my time better in order to do well while battling migraines and depressive episodes. The support from professors remained steady.

In lab one day a professor asked “how are you” and I said “fine”. He asked “no really, how are you” and I said “fine” again because that was a loaded question with an extensive answer. Shortly after, he began to speak generally to both my partner and I as he was demonstrating a technique about chronic pain and how one doesn’t ever really understand how someone feels who is in chronic pain until they experience it. Knowing my history and knowing his history, we could relate to each other in that manner without even having a full conversation. I emailed him later to tell him how I was really doing and to thank him for his concern. I realized that not everyone wants a generic “I’m fine” answer with that question; they genuinely care how you are doing.

I had some significant academic challenges in one class in particular, which impacted my academic success in 3rd year. Luckily, I had the professor the year prior to the accident. She made a comment that touched my heart extensively. She said she knew what I was like before the accident and extended her full supported me, which helped me a lot through that year both academically and personally.

 Another professor could tell I was really scrambled and anxious in practical exams. She gave me the best advice, which seems incredibly rhetorical, but it wasn’t for me. She told me to bring in a pen and paper and take some time after reading a scenario to put my thoughts down on paper and to breathe! She said, “you know it, I know you know it. It’s just trying to organize your thoughts and bring them out.” I enter into almost every exam now with a pen and paper and less anxiety.

I expressed my struggles in clinic to the supervisor. I told her I felt behind because of not being able to recall some previously learned material. She told me she knew that I would check the computer before I left each day to see who I had in order to prepare for the next day. She saw the extra work I was putting in and encouraged me throughout my clinic rotations, which helped make it a positive experience. So even though I thought I was struggling, the work I was doing showed otherwise.

One professor that I had in 2nd and 3rd year wrote a comment on a practical marking sheet in second semester of 3rd year saying “keep up the good work”.

Simple, little things that I’m sure they probably don’t even remember doing or saying, but these simple, little things and amazing people have changed my life forever and I will always be grateful. This is my 2nd post-secondary degree and I can honestly say this experience has been a deeper life changing experience. I am not just a number. I truly feel that each professor wants the best for us, which leads to an amazing educational and life experience! Things happen for a reason. And although I can relive and feel every moment of the accident and at times wish it never happened for various reasons, I keep telling myself that things happen for a reason. In fact, I met my SAT shortly after the accident with whom I have gained an incredible relationship with. He has been an amazing mentor and although he isn’t a hair dresser or bar tender, he has listened to my personal speed bumps as well as stood by me through educational speed bumps helping me tremendously. I have been guided and supported by so many amazing classmates and friends, faculty/professors, and family along the way and am incredibly thankful for everyone that has been a part of my success at Sheridan College.


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