A “Non Traditional” Journey to Pelvic Floor PT
I tried not to blush but I could feel my cheeks warm and grow rosy. I’m sitting in the audience at my Doctor of Physical Therapy graduation hearing my professor read from my admissions essay from three years earlier to our program faculty, entire class and their families.
In the months prior to graduation I completed a 10 week clinical education placement in pelvic floor physical therapy. It was everything I had wanted and more: an amazing clinical instructor to learn from, a diverse range of patient impairments and diagnoses, and a supportive learning environment. After completing this rotation I felt ready to graduate and start a career… again. I learned while applying to physical therapy school that I was a “non-traditional” student and I certainly felt this way graduating in my 30’s. I took plenty of twists and turns in my 20’s that today I could not be more grateful for, as all of those experiences led me to become the physical therapist I am today.
I pursued my Doctor of Physical Therapy education after completing an undergraduate degree in Global Studies and Spanish, two short careers in international education and public health, various travels around the globe, and becoming a yoga teacher. Learning about my own body through yoga was the last and most direct push into the field of physical therapy. After years of avoiding a science class, I signed up for the science heavy pre-requisite classes at a local community college. I met so many other like minded non-traditional students looking to enter the healthcare field as we shared our evening classes in anatomy, physics, biology and chemistry. I will never forget my 11pm bike rides home across the Brooklyn Bridge after my first few classes in what felt like an entirely new language: osmosis, fibula, hemoglobin. I’d repeat the words that I’d learned that evening while gazing at the city lights and cruising across the bridge. I approached each course with a very different mindset from how I learned in my undergraduate studies, as I felt I finally had a worthwhile goal at the end of it all.
I remember studying for my anatomy and physiology final exam, breezing through the urinary, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems as those had been my favorite sections in the course. At the same time I was working at the front desk at a massage studio with a large prenatal clientele. I would chat with them and ask about their pregnancy journeys each time I saw them, listening to their complaints of aches and pains. They would arrive with discomforts and complaints and walk out more relaxed and comfortable in their body. I had also been completing my physical therapy shadowing hours in outpatient clinics and rehab centers, but hadn’t seen anyone specializing in this population and wondered if that might be something I could do. My research into the world of pelvic floor physical therapy began with the idea that I would help the pregnant population. Little did I know there was so much more to it.
Fast forward to today where I am working in a small outpatient clinic. Most of my pelvic caseload consists of urinary incontinence in older adults, prolapse and core weakness for postpartum mamas, constipation and pelvic pain. In addition to my training in pelvic floor, my prior life experiences have shaped the care I provide to my patients. My education in global studies and international education has helped me to understand that people learn in many different ways and it is important to find common ground. My work experiences have enhanced my communication skills to provide clear and concise information to ensure my patients will succeed in their home exercise programs. My yoga background has kept me humble in remembering what it is like to learn something new about your body and maintain a motivation to keep working at it until your goals are met.
Back to that moment on my graduation day, sitting in my chair listening to my own words be read aloud about wanting to share that gift of learning and understanding your own body, I was inspired to read my essay in full again and the words connected to me in an entirely new way. While I will forever remember my flushed cheeks in that moment, I am grateful for the reminder to look back and cherish my story because it truly made me the pelvic floor physical therapist I am today.
Author: Molly Drazin, PT. DPT
Author Bio: Molly Drazin is a Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate from Drexel University and has been a licensed physical therapist since 2022. She is passionate about pelvic floor health, empowering people to learn about their bodies, and enabling them to move with ease.