James Madison University

Alumni highlight - Justin Bennett

Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology (Exercise Science), Class of 2014 JMU
Current Doctor of Physical Therapy student, Class of 2018 Mary Baldwin University

Undergraduate Internship in Strength & Conditioning

PHOTO: Justin  Bennett

I completed my undergraduate internship with the JMU strength and conditioning program where I continued to serve as a volunteer student strength coach for the remainder of my JMU experience. The opportunities afforded me through this internship were immensely rewarding both personally and professionally. During my time with JMU strength and conditioning, I was involved directly with planning and carrying out training programs for a variety of collegiate sports teams working closely with volleyball, softball, as well as men and women's basketball and numerous others. I was able to travel to Rogersville, TN to be involved with a local doctor who had started a sports performance clinic for under-served youths, and helped run multiple local youth sporting camps on campus.

While I ultimately chose to pursue my doctorate in physical therapy instead of becoming a collegiate strength coach, the skills and experiences I gained from working with and coaching collegiate athletes have allowed me to excel in the clinic and build a great rapport with my patients. The qualities that help make one a great coach are in essence the same qualities that lead to a great practitioner in any healthcare field. The discipline, leadership, and motivational characteristics I developed during my internship directly translate into working with any population whether athletes or patients.

Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy

I graduated from JMU in December of 2014 and began my first semester of PT school the following June at Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (MBU). That first semester is spent almost exclusively on human anatomy and I think a quote from our orientation day sums up the experience quite nicely "PT school is like drinking from a fire hose". While I'd be lying if I said it wasn't that bad, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish when you have to and you quickly adjust to the torrent of information being driven into your head. I will say that I did end up doing quite well and even went on to become an anatomy TA the next two summer semesters for the new incoming classes. A lot of the success that I've experienced throughout PT school I can trace back to my time at JMU, not only do I feel like the education we received was top-notch (shout out to Dr. Luden & Dr. Todd), but also as I've stated my experience with the strength and conditioning program was invaluable. All of the early morning sessions (5:45am for softball..) and long nights I spent coaching and attending classes instilled a great work ethic that I carried with me into PT school. You can't sustain 60+ hours of class/study a week plus copious amounts of reading everyday unless you've got the drive and discipline to do it.

PHOTO: Justin  Bennett

Now, roughly 2.5 years later, I have completed my didactic portion of my education and am about to embark on my final two long term clinicals and finish my doctoral research. My research combined my love/experience with sports with my new acquired PT knowledge. We will be performing state-wide research to hopefully identify the current barriers affecting implementation of ACL injury prevention programs in women's high school soccer. I am hopeful we will have the opportunity to present our findings next February at the American Physical Therapy Association's combined sections meeting in New Orleans.

The Future

I will be hooded on May 19, 2018 and graduate the following day with my Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Following graduation, I look forward to a LONG break consisting of sand, sun, and surf. After roughly 7 years (4 undergrad, 3 grad) it will be nice to never see a blackboard quiz or drop box assignment again. Then it's time to get licensed and find a job!
I have already received four employment offers ranging everything from sports medicine to acute care to skilled nursing. While I'm still not exactly sure where I'll end up, the opportunities are there and the sky's the limit.