Reflections as I Begin My 30th Year of Practice (2)

Dana-Mandel-08-14-square-200x200by Dana Mandel



I would like to thank everyone that responded to me about my post in last month’s Lifespan E-newsletter. I appreciate your congratulations and enjoyed learning of your perspectives and experiences related to my 30 years of practice. Given the interest and response, I thought I would continue to share the story.


My decision to pursue a career in physical therapy coincided with my graduation from SUNY Binghamton with a BS Degree in English and General Literature. This course of study was, unfortunately, not a direct path to physical therapy school. I began contacting universities in New York State with Physical Therapy Programs to gather information regarding prerequisite coursework, standardized testing, and hours of volunteer experience required to apply to their programs. I learned that all of those heavy science courses, with labs, that I skillfully avoided in my undergraduate career were looming in my near future. A total of 30 credits in Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Technical Physics, Statistics, and Psychology coursework were all conspicuously absent from my transcripts.


My goal was to complete this coursework in the least amount of time. I was working the swing and night shifts full time as direct care staff in a community residence for adults with developmental disabilities in Niagara Falls, NY. I enrolled in 3 community colleges simultaneously and was able to complete all of the coursework I needed in one spring and one summer semester. I also volunteered at a Children’s Hospital in Buffalo to obtain the necessary 100 hours of volunteer experience required to apply to physical therapy school. I prepared for and completed the GRE exam and an Allied Health Professions exam. By the end of the summer, I was ready to begin applying to Physical Therapy Programs.


To bolster my chances of being accepted, I applied to programs at SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, Hunter College, NYU, Columbia, and SUNY Stony Brook. This was prior to the “Common App” and the conveniences of the computer and the internet. I heard back from each institution and was granted interviews with all of them. Stay tuned until next month…