Hey readers! Today I want to talk about what I studied in undergrad. In May 2018, I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science, and then in June 2018 I started my Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree. It was a whirlwind during the two weeks between undergrad and grad school to say the least, but I am so happy with where I am now!
How Exercise Science Prepared me for OT
I am so thankful for the education that I received at Lasell College for exercise science. I feel like my degree in exercise science prepared me so well for occupational therapy school. I specifically noticed how well-prepared I was last semester during Movement, Context, & Occupational Performance. Many of the topics that we learned about in that course were actually review for me from kinesiology in undergrad. The anatomy course that I took last summer was also a bit of a review for me (except for the cadaver lab!). Having a background in exercise science was super helpful in applying movement and anatomy principles to occupational therapy.
In exercise science, I learned about the principles around body mechanics, movement, exercise physiology, how to plan an exercise program, how exercise affects the body, and the motivators behind exercise. I also earned my certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, which is a great precursor to OT from a movement perspective!
As part of my degree, I participated in two internships that helped prepare me for OT school. The first one was at a day habilitation program for adults with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. I worked alongside the OT, PT, and SLP to perform “therapy goals” with clients who had a variety of diagnoses and conditions. Since my supervisor knew that my goal was to become an OT, she scheduled me to run a cooking group with the OT every week, which was a really cool experience! I also participated in wheelchair clinics and a speech group each week.
The second internship that I did was at a rehabilitation hospital in which I worked with exercise therapists in the gym. I assisted clients and patients through their exercise programs, which included modifying programs, checking O2 saturation, performing 1 repetition max assessments, and assessing clients’ rate of perceived exertion using the Borg scale. Both of these experiences provided me with the opportunity to work on my rapport-building skills with clients and use skills that I learned as an exercise science major in a setting that also applied to occupational therapy.
Finally, as part of my degree, I conducted an original research project called “Physical Activity, Intellectual Stimulation, and Memory Retention in the Elderly.” While this process was long and challenging, I learned so many useful tools that I have been able to take with me to grad school. As part of my Advanced Doctoral Experience (ADE) that I will complete in 2020, I will likely be completing another research project. I also just began the first of a series of research courses, and I feel very well-prepared for them. Much of what we have been discussing so far in my current research class is review for me from when I conducted my own research last year. I was honored at the research symposium to have earned the Outstanding Researcher Award for my class!
Pre-Requisite Courses for OT School
Earning my degree in exercise science was also great because it provided me with many of the courses I needed to get into OT school. Some of the courses that were required for most OT schools that I was able to take as part of my exercise science curriculum were:
- Anatomy & Physiology with Lab
- Psychology or Sociology
- Physics (not required by all programs)
Some of the courses that I had to take elsewhere, on top of my regular course load, or online because they were not part of my exercise science curriculum were:
- Lifespan Development
- Abnormal Psychology
What can you do with an Exercise Science Degree?
Like me, you can apply to OT school! Other programs that students who graduated with me applied to or were considering were physical therapy, physician’s assistant, doctor of osteopathic medicine, and chiropractor. PT was definitely one of the most common paths that students decided to take! If you don’t want to continue your education towards one of these (or other) degrees, there are also other options for exercise science students! Some of my other peers earned a certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES), or Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP), among others.
Are any of you exercise science majors, or are you considering earning a degree in exercise science? If so, tell me what path you took or are planning to take after graduation! It’s a great career choice regardless of where you end up post-graduation.
Thanks for reading!