Michelle DeRoche, Contributing Writer
Candace Langsfeld, a junior biology major and pre-physical therapy student, has beautiful hopes and dreams for the future. Anyone who knows Langsfeld also knows that she will accomplish these dreams with flying colors.
In a university focused so much on the liberal arts, not many people know much about the sciences unless they are science majors or used to be. Most people do not realize the many different fields that science majors can enter after graduation.
I decided to ask Langsfeld a few questions in order to share her experiences as a pre-physical therapy student at the University of Dallas.
MD: Why pre-physical therapy (PT)?
CL: When I tell someone that I am majoring in biology, they immediately assume that I am pre-med. When I first started at UD I was considering medical school, but going into my sophomore year I changed my mind. I love the creativity and freedom that comes with physical therapy. A PT first sets goals as to what he or she wants to accomplish with a particular patient, and [then] designs unique exercises just for that patient. I especially love the creativity involved in pediatrics, where the exercises are designed to be games and the kids are having so much fun that, sometimes, they do not even realize they are actually working. That, to me, is incredible.
MD: I hear that you have been visiting hospitals to shadow doctors. What types of doctors have you shadowed? Is this required for your biology major or PT school?
CL: I shadowed an in-patient physical therapist at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) who worked with hip, knee and shoulder replacements. I also was able to observe the doctors in the wound-care area. At Baylor, I have shadowed both a pediatric outpatient and inpatient therapist.
Shadowing is not a requirement for my biology major at UD, but it is for PT school. Most schools want about 200 hours of shadowing experience, not just in the area of interest, but in every setting and type of therapy: hospitals, outpatient clinics, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, etc. They want their students to have a lot of experience in observation in several different situations.
MD: Did you have a favorite hospital experience?
CL: My favorite experience has definitely been shadowing at Our Children’s House at Baylor. There I shadow[ed] several pediatric inpatient and outpatient therapists. I absolutely adore children and I have known for several years that working with children is what I want to do … My experience shadowing at Baylor has definitely confirmed that.
MD: Can you describe the hospital environment from a physical therapist’s perspective?
CL: My dad is a vascular surgeon at UNMH, so I have definitely seen the stressful side of the medical world. Fortunately, physical therapy is not like that. Physical therapists are not “on call,” so they do not need to go into the hospital in the middle of the night for an emergency. The shifts are set and are easier to work around than a doctor or surgeon’s schedule might be. In my experiences with PTs, they are always relaxed, happy, upbeat and excited for their jobs, and they bring a positive attitude to every room and every patient.
PTs are organized similarly to doctors in that they have a list of patients they need to see and they will go room to room spending some time with the patient giving them exercises to work on.
MD: Is there a science class at UD that relates most to what you will be doing in the future? If so, what was it and how does it relate?
CL: Anatomy and Physiology are great classes and necessary because a physical therapist has to have a solid knowledge of the body and how it works in order to help the healing process. I have not taken this class yet, but Exercise Physiology will be useful as well.
When asked about plans after graduation, Langsfeld said she would like to take a year or two off to travel and work, and then go to physical therapy school. After PT school, Langsfeld will have the title of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).