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First choice of physical therapy among exercise science graduates at SUNY Fredonia

Dr. Todd Backes (far right) demonstrates the use of equipment with students in an exercise science lab.

Six new or recent graduates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science at the State University of New York at Fredonia will continue their studies in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs – the most popular choice among more of a dozen Fredonians accepted into health professions schools across the country.

The exercise science program attracts many students who are interested in science but do not have a particular interest in medicine, but who want to work with people in a health care setting, according to the professor. Fellow of the Todd Backes Department of Biology, and who seek a more humane approach found in exercise science.

Physiotherapy is generally the most common occupation of choice among exercise science students, followed by occupational therapy and chiropractic programs, both tied for second place, followed by physician assistant and coaching programs jock. “It’s a growing program,” Dr. Backes said, with more than 50 students enrolled.

SUNY Fredonia’s exercise science program, which is housed in the Department of Biology, attracts students interested in some sort of paramedic or vocational program as an alternative to medical school, explained Backes, program coordinator. It also picks up department students who transfer from other science majors.

These DPT-linked students, their graduation year, hometown, and respective vocational school are: John Arnold, 21, from Hamburg, High Point University, North Carolina; Sara Corwin, ’22, Mayville, Gannon University, Pennsylvania; Ava Knapp, ’21, East Amherst, Pacific University, Oregon; Elyse Markham, ’22, Brocton, Daemen College, Buffalo; Patrick Walsh, graduate student in biology, ’19, Jamestown, University of Vermont, Vermont; and Brittany Whitcomb, ’21, Westfield, Medaille College, Buffalo.

“There were a handful of schools where we were really successful in attracting students,” Backes said, like Daemen and D’Youville. “Now we welcome students to UB [University at Buffalo]Nazare [College] and Gannon — all local PT programs,” noted Backes, along with other schools located across the country.

“A lot of students look outside the immediate area, choose other schools, and go in there,” Backes said. “And for many of these students, these schools are their first choice.”

Some recent graduates entering physical therapy programs have taken a year off after graduation due to the coronavirus pandemic, preferring not to begin their studies in a virtual education format, Backes noted. DPT programs, including clinical rotations, typically take two to three years.

Students interested in physiotherapy pursue undergraduate studies in exercise science to prepare for advanced studies that will put them on the path to a profession where employment is expected to increase by 21% between 2020 and 2030 – with about 15,600 expected openings each year, on average, during this decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Other Fredonia graduates enrolled in Department of Biology programs and accepted into other doctoral programs at health professions schools include: Alex Bogosian, ’22, Silver Creek, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York City ; Christopher Buchanan, ’22, Fredonia, D’Youville Chiropractic Center, D’Youville College, Buffalo; Hope Catanese, ’21, Stockton, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan; and Hannah Rubinrott, ’22, Caledonia, Ohio State University College of Optometry, Ohio. Mr. Buchanan also majored in exercise science.

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