Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Anthony “Tony” Laurel ’17 decided to pursue a career in physical therapy when he discovered that the profession matched his personality and interest in health care.

“I was injured a lot as a cross country runner,” said Laurel. “I got really frustrated with being injured and how it affected my ability to support my team.” During the formative years of high school, his mentors included his teachers, coach and athletic trainer. “They showed me that there are ways to care for people and encourage people when they are hurt and when they are down.” As he prepares for a career in physical therapy he continues to be inspired by the care and compassion his mentors provide to those around them.

For the next phase of his education, Laurel will be completing three clinical internships. His first clinical internship was at Lodi Physical Therapy in Lodi, California, followed by a rotation at VIBRA Rehabilitation Hospital of Lake Travis in Lakeway, Texas. He is currently in Bangor, Maine, for an acute care rotation at St. Joseph Healthcare. He believes that Pacific’s DPT program has given him the skills and tools he needs to thrive in the clinical internships and beyond. “I feel very well-prepared for any issues or problems I might come up against,” Laurel said.

Through the immersive internships, Pacific’s DPT students can experience first-hand several distinctive practice settings. They gain a wide breadth of experience and find what setting best suits them as an individual. “At the moment, I am leaning toward acute inpatient care,” Laurel said. “I love working in the hospital; something about it really gets me going as a person, as a human being.”

In February, Laurel attended the 2017 American Physical Therapists Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in San Antonio. “It is a great opportunity for young professionals to get their feet wet, get exposure to the vast scope of our profession,” Laurel explains. “I was inspired by the quantity and variety of valuable information available through both the sessions and personal connections.”

Laurel also connected with Pacific alumni. “I was able to attend our Pacific alumni event at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. I was able to see my buddy from the program who is an alumnus, Patrick Cawneen [’16, DPT], as well as several other faculty and alumni.”

Even traveling to CSM presented networking opportunities. “I actually met the developer and CEO of one of the vendors on my flight into San Antonio. His name was Nick Fontana and he developed a web-based application for home exercise program design and adherence specifically geared toward physical therapists. Beyond our professional conversation, we talked about a variety of subjects stretching from music and cars, to Star Trek and Star Wars. It was a fantastic conversation and one of my most memorable encounters from the weekend.”

Laurel believes learning to focus is the key to thriving in Pacific’s accelerated, academically rigorous DPT program. He explains, “Learn how to do things purposefully, including taking care of yourself and relaxing. I’m a musician and music is a big part of what I do to keep sane.” He is intentional about setting aside time to create music. “I’ve had to learn to be very purposeful with that time.”


By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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