Rebecca Olivieri ’18

Winter internship: Physical Therapy of Norton
Award: Talanian Family Work and Learning Fellowship
Major: Biology

A good fit: “I interned at Physical Therapy of Norton because of its location, ownership and employees. From my first interaction with them, the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant were amazing. They were welcoming and friendly, and eager to teach me and share their experiences of how they got to where they are today. They were very open to allowing me to ask questions, help them in the office, and understand the exercise and stretch programs that they were putting their patients through.” This internship was unique as it allowed me to see first-hand the work of a physical therapist in her small clinic.

Moving parts: “A big part of my internship was observation and reflection. I also participated in the workings of the practice. The physical therapist would instruct me to work with patients by preparing their ice or heat for their injuries. I helped demonstrate movements and exercises with different equipment based on a prescribed program. During the internship, I saw various patients, and observed appointments that involved evaluations, re-evaluations and releases. My favorite moment on the job was when the physical therapist allowed me to try the stim machine. I was beyond excited. She placed the pads on my neck at first and I got to feel the tingling sensation. Then she set it to a different level for inflammation and allowed me to try it on my knee. I got to experience what the patients were feeling and she taught me the significance and effects of using the stim machine.”

Learning by doing: “One challenge was learning on the spot. I was asked to complete a few tasks, such as preparing a cervical heat pads, without ever being showed it. I made a few mistakes in preparing them, but one of the physical therapists showed me how to do it more efficiently. After I was shown the proper way, I was an expert at preparing cervical heat pads and they never looked back on my mistakes. This challenge taught me that I will make mistakes, but that is how to learn. I can overcome anything and as a result, I grow. This experience also surprised me. I did not expect them to have faith or confidence in me to prepare treatment for their patients—but they did! Consequently, I developed confidence in the small tasks that they assigned me.”

Strengthening knowledge: “This internship was unique as it allowed me to see first-hand the work of a physical therapist in her small clinic. Throughout this winter, the physical therapists have been taking about all different muscles and body parts that I am only slightly familiar with. By asking questions and talking about the injuries of patients, I was able to learn more about the body. I am excited to be able to grow in my knowledge this coming semester, when I’ll be taking human anatomy. Therefore, when I visit the practice after this semester, I hope to be able to communicate more effectively with the physical therapists and patients by using the knowledge and terms I will learn from human anatomy.”

On a career track: “I am a biology major in the pre-health program on the pre-physical therapy track. Upon coming to Wheaton, I knew I was interested in physical therapy and had a strong passion for health and exercise science. The biology major was a perfect fit to take courses that I am interested in as well as fulfill the prerequisites that are needed when applying for graduate school for physical therapy.”

Winter internships

Wheaton College’s Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services offers the Winternship initiative each year. It allows students to travel around the globe working in schools, health clinics, nonprofit organizations and corporate settings. Return to main page