In Class News

February 9, 2018 at 6:38 pm

D’Agostino Goes from ‘Behind the Scenes’ in Lab to Doctoral PT Program

Amanda D'Agostino, portrait

Amanda D’Agostino

by Kristin Distel

Amanda D’Agostino ’18, who is majoring in OHIO’s Psychology Pre-Physical Therapy program, has been accepted to two physical therapy doctoral programs.

She gives her Ohio University mentors and professors credit for helping her navigate the vast, exciting opportunities available to students in this major.

Currently, D’Agostino plans to specialize in pediatric physical therapy. Sessions with children, she explains, have the benefit of being both fun and helpful.

“Working with kids is a special challenge. They keep you on your toes, and you have to find different strategies to keep them engaged. When treating patients who are children, we conduct sessions in a playful manner,” D’Agostino notes.

Gaining Firsthand Experience

D’Agostino has participated in a variety of camps and labs designed to provide care to clients and hands-on experience for trainees and students.

Recently, she volunteered at a camp where she intensively worked with children who have autism. She sees this as very useful preparation for her career in physical therapy.

“A lot of patients I’ll eventually work with will have autism, and they will need physical therapy for both fine and gross motor skills. Through camps and classes, I am learning how those disorders develop, and I am learning how to treat them,” D’Agostino states.

She also shadowed at a variety of workplaces to familiarize herself with occupational and physical therapy, genetic counseling, and speech therapy. OHIO has further afforded D’Agostino the opportunity to work in research labs, where she has learned more about the process of conducting experiments.

“I worked in the university’s Psychosocial Processes and Health Lab as undergrad research assistant,” she explains. “That was such a beneficial experience.” As a lab assistant, D’Agostino conducted a stress test that was part of a larger experiment, in addition to setting up the experiments themselves.

“I also helped with coding, as well as monitoring physiological signs, like participants’ heart rate and blood pressure,” D’Agostino states. “All the ‘behind the scenes’ work taught me a lot!”

Gaining a Strong Foundation at OHIO

When D’Agostino first began her studies at OHIO, she hadn’t yet selected a major.

“At orientation and in my first few semesters, I talked with academic advisers about my options. In particular, Randy Price helped me narrow down my interests and consider some possible career paths,” D’Agostino explains.

After discovering her interest in the sciences, she debated between Biological Sciences and Psychology Pre-Physical Therapy. “The descriptions of OHIO’s psychology courses really clinched my decision,” she remarks.

Once D’Agostino had declared a major, she discovered the many professional development opportunities and interesting courses available to her. Her coursework as a psychology pre-physical therapy major laid the groundwork for her successful graduate school applications.

“I’ve gained a lot of skills in my classes, especially in the research methods course that psychology students take. I learned how to read scholarly articles, analyze data, and conduct my own experiments. My work in the psychosocial processes and health lab, which I took for course credit, also connected me to psychology graduate students, and I’ve been able to ask their advice. They’re a great resource,” D’Agostino states.

She also credits the psychology faculty themselves with helping shape her into a successful student.

“I worked with Dr. Susan Tice-Alicke during two summer orientations, and she has been so helpful,” D’Agostino notes. “As one of my mentors and recommenders, she informed me about my options and helped me navigate the grad school application process.”

Advice for Grad School Applicants

D’Agostino has received offers from the University of Cincinnati and Chatham University. Both schools appeal to D’Agostino because of their location in important medical hubs, in addition to the extensive resources and top-tier hospitals at which she could train. The schools themselves, she notes, have heavy research components embedded in their curriculum, which is a strong selling point for D’Agostino.

She recommends to current students that they begin research graduate programs early in their academic career.

“Start this process early, even before your junior year, and even if you’re not sure whether you want to attend graduate school,” she suggests. “Be sure to visit any schools that you’re especially interested in, too. That’s really the only way to see whether a program is a good fit for you.”

The most important foundational work in a graduate school application, though, starts right here at OHIO, D’Agostino explains.

“Get to know your professors and faculty. They are great sources of information; they are a resource,” she notes. “And most of all, take advantage of all the opportunities available here at OHIO. Everyone who is applying to graduate programs a good student. Do something during your undergraduate career to set yourself apart.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *