Senior Biology major Jessica Franco did not waste a second of her 2016 summer break: she enrolled in courses, trained for basketball season and took on the role of physical therapy technician. An intern at Foothills Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine back at home in Arizona, Franco was charged with transporting patients and guiding them through the exercises assigned by their physical therapist. "The tech's job is to make sure everything is going smoothly for the physical therapists," says Franco, who ensured that patients were performing their workouts with proper form, resulting in no pain. Also tasked with providing heat pads and ice packs, Jessica found herself closing the facility a number of times, ensuring everything was organized and ready for the next day's use.
A patient herself back in high school, following a basketball injury, Franco was particularly familiar with the facility and staff, returning over the summer to volunteer years prior to her internship. Loving the environment and having kept in touch with her own PT, Cory Gersh, now head physical therapist and owner of the facility, Foothills seemed the perfect location for some practical hours.
Currently on the Pre-Physical Therapy track, Franco hopes to pursue graduate studies in Boston, with her sights set on Boston University. Having surpassed nearly twice the 60-100 "hours worked with a physical therapist" required by most graduate schools, Jessica feels good about her future in the field. The hours aside, Franco simply enjoyed the opportunity to learn under her coworkers, including the head technician and two physical therapists. "I was even able to shadow a physical therapist as she performed 'dry needling' on a patient. This process consists of inserting a needle into a trigger point and allowing the needle to produce better blood flow in that spot."
Though enrolled in three summer courses, coaching multiple recreational basketball teams and preparing for the upcoming season, all while serving as a technician, Franco managed to keep her focus on what mattered most: the patients. Each had their own story, as well as some encouraging words for Jessica, who shared about her own journey to Boston and her hopes to become a Physical Therapist.
"I would definitely recommend that everyone participate in an internship that relates to your major or your future profession," writes Franco, "for me, this internship reinforced why I want to be a physical therapist... Meeting these people, hearing their stories, and being able to help them in some aspect of their life reminded me to never take anything for granted."