Aug 5, 2012

Finally, a Physical Therapist

PT Graduation
The past six years have been dedicated to accomplishing the singular goal of becoming a licensed Physical Therapist.  I'm extremely happy to announce that that goal has been met as of July 11, 2012.  The whole reason this process started was mostly due to my experience on the John Muir Trail in 2006.  Prior to that life-changing adventure I was a college drop-out.  I first attended San Diego State University for 1 year after high school before being kicked out due to abysmal grades (1.67 GPA) and poor class attendance.  I moved back up to LA after another year taking odd-jobs here and there, spending money I didn't have (credit cards), and avoiding any sense of responsibility with no care or thought of where my life would end up.  After taking a seasonal job at REI in the winter of 2004 I started to slowly plan the idea of backpacking the John Muir Trail.  I had always dreamed of backpacking for weeks on end being surrounded by the natural world and its beauty.  I had a 3 week trip planned with a friend when I was 18 but he bailed and I didn't end up going.  A fellow co-worker of mine,  Mike Hon, backpacked the PCT in 2005 and that inspired me to finally make the JMT reality.  So I went solo in July 2006 which happened to be a season with very high snow levels, nearly 200% of normal.  In the middle of that trip I met Joel and he was out there alone as well after the couple he was backpacking with broke up about one quarter of the way into the trip.  Since I had minimal experience with traveling in the high country in snow alone we ended up backpacking the final 150 miles together to the summit of Mt. Whitney.  During those 150 miles I admired Joel's independence: he was a co-creator of a small pub-quiz company which he started over the 6 figure job he was previously working at.  He wanted independence and the ability to do whatever he wanted when he wanted.  At the conclusion of the JMT I knew that was exactly what I wanted: To be able to have the freedom of time and independence to go on backpacking trips while making a decent living.  So I gave school another shot.  Starting from a GPA of 1.67 had me in a big academic hole and the only thing that was going to get me out with a shot at entering a very competitive program (PT) was to get nothing but top grades.  I enrolled at SMC to take Anatomy and Psychology (which I had failed before) but this time I had a purpose, I was focused.  I had to be.
I honestly didn't know much about Physical Therapy and while I enrolled in those classes I started to look for a job as an Aide at a physical therapy clinic.  I was hired by Don Nelson and PRO Physical Therapy, an outpatient orthopedic clinic, in October.  I started to learn what orthopedic PT was all about and I fell in love with it.  This was something I wanted to do.  After a successful first semester (2 "A's") I enrolled in Chemistry in the Winter semester which had me attending class 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. It was awful but with this renewed purpose it made it bearable.  Another "A".  After one more semester at SMC I transferred to Cal State, Northridge hoping to complete by degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science in 2 years so I could apply to PT school in the fall of 2009.  These two years I was consistently taking 19-24 units per semester, even going as far as attending another junior college at night concurrently in order to take more classes.  All this plus working 3 days/week made any type of social life non-existent.  Even through all this I made sure I was able to continue backpacking during the summers (see side column for trips).
It was time to apply to PT school and I chose only 1: Cal State Northridge.  The reason being was because of out-of-school debt.  Private PT schools demand outrageous tuitions of near $45,000/year for three years plus living expenses which would have it amount to over $150,000 in debt when out of school.  That was simply out of the question for me.  Public school tuition was a mere $2600-$3000/semester, with FAFSA grants covering 80% of it.  I still had to take out loans but a fraction of the amount for private schools.  My gamble paid off and I got into PT school at CSUN.  The hard work was starting to pay off.
After 3 years of PT school and passing my board exams I now work at Kinetic Orthopedic Physical Therapy and my goal is to work with runners in the community.  I've already started treating some ultra-runners with some being local "So-Cal Coyotes" but I want runners to think of me first if or when they have an injury.  As an ultra-runner myself I think I have a better awareness as to the needs of the runner.  I'm going to post another entry to include more details. 
I think back on the past 6 years and wonder how fortunate I am that things worked out because of the many avenues where any of this could have fallen by the wayside.  I come away with the firm belief that the combination of hard work, focus, and true desire create opportunities  for anyone to accomplish their dreams.
I have to especially thank my mother for her support and my father for his guidance.  Without his constant encouragement and advice in my ear, the seed that lead to this fruition may have never been planted.  



  1. Great work, dude. Can I be your first (free) ultra-client? My runner's knee (plain old runner's knee tendonitis on the front below the kneecap) has kicked in and has been bugging me on nearly all runs for the last couple weeks. What stretches or exercises should I do so I don't hate life at Wasatch?

  2. After training with you for AC100, and working with you through some of my ailments, it didn't take long for me to realize that you really know what you're doing when it comes to physical therapy, especially applied to runners legs. Can't thank you enough for your help, can't wait to get back out on the trails with ya!



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