In recognition of October as Physical Therapy Month, the Lewis College highlights new PT alumni and their journeys into the profession.
Emma Davis’ journey into the field of physical therapy was classic. She tore her ACL playing soccer in high school and had physical therapy after surgery. But years later, her achievement on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) was anything but classic. Davis was the second member of the 2020 Doctor of Physical Therapy graduating class to earn the exam’s top score. She knew she had passed but was surprised at the score and needed reassurance from a friend to believe what she saw on her computer screen.
“I assumed what the score notice was showing me was what the score was out of, but not showing me my score. I had a friend who got her scores that same day, so I called her, and she said it should be ‘in that box right there.’ It said 800. She said, ‘you got a perfect score.’”
Technically receiving an 800 out of 800 is not a perfect score as the exam includes 50 experimental questions. These questions are used by NPTE to consider having in future exams. Davis wasn’t sure which questions were the experimental ones that didn’t count in her score.
She prepared for the exam using a score builder textbook, combing her class notes and taking the required practice tests to make the experience as realistic as the actual exam.
Davis credits the PT faculty for her success as a student, notably Dr. Jane Gore, Dr. Anne Lorio and Dr. Deon Thompson, who taught neuroanatomy, neuroscience and anatomy, respectively. She also credits Dr. Liang-Ching Tsai.
“He was my research mentor and challenged me with biomechanics, which was not my area. He also challenged me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with, such as presenting at conferences.”
She also credits the support of her close friends from the program who provided comic relief from physical therapy school stress.
An Atlanta native, Davis chose Georgia State for her PT degree for its diversity but was sold on the program during the interview process.
“At the interview Q &A, the faculty seemed approachable. Like I could go up to them and have a conversation if I saw them out in public. Not intimidating as some professors can be.”
Davis also chose Georgia State for its strong neuroscience program.
“I didn’t know what career path or setting I wanted work in but had some interest in neuroscience and Georgia State is pretty strong in neuro,” said Davis. The DPT program devotes a whole year to neuroscience. She especially enjoyed the neuroanatomy lab.
“Brain harvest in the neuroanatomy lab was amazing, looking at the sections of the brain, knowing it was once a human and told their body to do certain things.”
Davis now works as a PRN physical therapist at Shepherd Center, which means she works as needed. She is hopeful that the work will lead to a full-time position but, for now, is happy with the learning opportunities it offers.
“The great thing about starting as a PRN is that I can focus on fundamentals, can learn different interventions and learn from other primary PTs, as they have lots of roles. I’m grateful to ease into the field with the part-time work,” said Davis. “I can learn from other therapists about all the “behind the scenes” aspects of patient care such as durable medical equipment, prescriptions and discharge planning.”
— by Angela Go