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Katrina Crossley

Katrina Crossley smiling with a skeleton in a lab

  • Hometown: Merrimac, MA
  • Major: Doctorate of Physical Therapy
  • Graduation Year: 2014

Why did you choose Physical Therapy?
I have always been an active person and the thought of sitting in front of a computer all day every day scared me, so I knew a typical office job was not for me. The medical field has always interested me, but I want a career where I will be constantly interacting with people and helping them have a better life. Physical therapy gives me the opportunity to be active while making sure my patients have a healthy active life that is pain free.

What inspired you to pursue your career choice?
While in high school my grandfather had a very serious heart attack, and I remember thinking we were going to lose him. However his medical team worked really hard to make sure he survived, and he did. One member of the team was a physical therapist who came into his home and helped him exercise and get stronger. I think because I was so excited that someone can make a career out of helping people, I became interested in physical therapy. The physical therapist was getting paid to exercise my grandfather, and he became stronger. As a high school student I thought it was so neat that this therapist was responsible for making it so that my grandfather was alive healthy and pain free for many years afterwards.

Why did you choose URI?
When someone is considering which college they are going to, one of the factors they always debate is; which is better a “big” college or a “small” one. With small colleges you get an intimate learning experience where the professor knows your name. A larger college usually provides more resources. This is what I think is unique about URI and why I chose it – it has the best parts of both “big” and “small” colleges. For me it is the right size college. I know all my professors extremely well and never feel like a number at URI. Also because it is a larger university it has given me some really exciting learning experiences that probably would not be available at smaller colleges.

What has been the best part of your studies at URI?
The best part of my studies at URI has been every time we are in the Human Gross Anatomy Lab. This is such a valuable and unique experience for my career choice that URI gives its students. We are able to learn the muscles, bones, ligaments of the body by actually seeing it, not from a model or text book in our first semester. Then in later semesters we are provided the opportunity see the lungs and heart and how they are located in the chest cavity. However the most exciting has to be seeing a human spinal cord or holding a brain. There are only a limited number of people who can say they have held a brain, and thanks to URI I am one of them. There is no better to learn the anatomy of the body, especially the brain, than actually seeing a real one; models and pictures are no match for the actual thing. This has to be the best and most unique aspect of my studies here at URI.

What’s been the best part of your whole experience at URI?
The family I have gained here. I have made so many connections with my classmates, and faculty it has enhanced my learning tremendously. I know I have made some great connections that I will never forget.

What has surprised you most about URI?
How a college in the smallest state of Rhode Island can have so many worldly connections. We have students who have as a part of the program studied in India, the Olympic training facility in Colorado, a small town in Texas on the Mexican boarder, Ireland, Switzerland, and Japan. Students are also going to Guatemala and China for learning experiences. There are clinical sites in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Canada, and many places in New England. I remember being surprised at how a school in the smallest state can have connections in all of these different places around the world.

What do you think of the faculty at URI?
I think that we have the best faculty! They not only challenge us in our studies but they treat us as the future professionals they are teaching us to become, and they have no problem joking around with us and making sure we are enjoying our day! I think the only time a faculty member’s door is closed is when they are not at the building, and even then if you send them an email they will get back to you super fast! They are always there to ask questions and they really will do anything to make sure we succeed! Also I have never had so many professors who are concerned with the student’s opinion on the course material. They are always asking how we like particular projects or classes and how we think it can be made better, and they actually listen and make changes.

What do you consider the biggest strengths of your particular program at URI?
It may sound corny but we are like a little family! We have family dinners where everyone brings something and we cook together. Our program is very close and everybody helps each other when they can and we get along really well. I think this is possible because we are such a small “right sized” program; only 28 students in my class and there are only three classes. We are so close and it makes for a fun and exciting learning environment! I do not know if any other physical therapy program is as close knit as ours, but I do know it is my favorite thing about my program.

What kind of internships, experiential learning opportunities, or real-life experiences have you had?
I have had so many unique experiences at URI such as learning from the stimulation lab, to conducting research on Parkinson’s Disease with aquatic therapy, to leading a fall prevention class in senior centers in the community, to going to Guatemala for two weeks to work with a school for children; however the most exciting opportunity has not occurred yet because the semester is just starting. This semester in our neuromuscular therapeutics class we will be working one on one with people in the community who have neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries to name a few. I do not know of any other school that has class time set up to work with actual patients where a teacher is there to help you. However you are still responsible for your own patient.

What’s your “Big Idea”?
My big idea may not seem that big to everybody, but it is big to me. I want to be a good physical therapist who my patients respect, trust, and enjoy coming to see. Today there are too many stories for medical professionals who do not pay enough attention to their patients, and I want to make sure that is not me. No matter what, I want to make sure that my patients come first and that I am someone they feel comfortable discussing their condition with. Patients are the most important thing and my big idea is to make sure I never forget that. Again it may not seem that big, but think if patients are not longer first in our eyes all other “big” ideas do not really matter.

What would you say to someone undecided about where to go to school for your particular major/program?
The biggest thing I would say is determined where you will feel most comfortable. We are in a rigorous and demanding program that is much harder than undergrad but well worth everything. However, it is important to make sure you have a good support system behind you. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your classmates or professors it makes everything much more difficult. You need to determine where you feel comfortable and what learning environment you learn best in. Some prefer a large college some prefer a small one; URI is the right size for me.

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