The title of my program is “Exercise and Psychological Sciences” which is based around my future aspirations to work in occupational therapy. My program includes courses from many different departments with the bulk of courses coming from the Health and Human Performance and Psychology departments. I created this program in pursuit of an education that allowed me to get the best experience possible. I wanted to take both exercise and psychology courses in order to best prepare for graduate school, but no major or minor would have been able to best suit my needs considering the types of psychology courses and the variety of exercise courses I was looking to take. There is no other program here at Plymouth State that allows students to freely take different psychology classes in all areas of life as well as take the hard sciences needed to attend graduate school as an occupational therapy student, therefore, I chose to pursue Interdisciplinary Studies.
The courses in my contract are all tailored to best prepare me for the future and give me the most well-rounded experience here at Plymouth State. To fulfill my QRCO requirement I have completed General Chemistry I. This will also help me as I pursue a career in Occupational Therapy and understand what exactly occurs chemically within someone’s body.
I have chosen a number of Physical Education courses. One course that directly enhanced my knowledge of the human body and function was Functional Anatomy. This course focused on the body’s movements and the mechanisms of injury and how those injuries affect muscle, bones, tendons, and other structures in the body. Adding Wellness Choices for the Active and Healthy Lifestyle was vital in understanding how all parts of wellness are interconnected. When working in the health care field, it is important to understand what overall wellness is and how each choice one makes can affect a different part of one’s wellness. Kinesiology (PE3570) breaks down the biomechanics of the body’s movements as well as how to prevent injury and teach proper technique. This course is related to occupational therapy by breaking down the most intricate of movements and the components that alter the movement. Motor Learning is the perfect course to add as part of my program because this course goes in depth on the art of practice, teaching, and how people learn.
I have chosen two other courses from the Health and Human Performance Department. Understanding the nutritional needs of different people is vital to treating patients as well as understanding the role of different foods in the body, therefore, taking Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living was an excellent addition to my education program. Pharmacology for Allied Health Professionals was included to further understand the physiology of the body’s functions, and how medications and injury play a role in the function of one’s body.
In addition to my exercise science courses, I have also taken courses in math and business including Statistics I and Organizational Behavior. Both these courses taught me different budgeting skills and the ability to look at and analyze a variety of data sets.
The last major portion of my courses comes from psychology to further my understanding of the human mind and how that correlates with one’s ability to exercise and/or rehabilitate. Some of these courses are out of the Psychology Department and some are from the Health and Human Performance Department. These courses include Exercise and Health Psychology (PE4010), Abnormal Psychology, Life Span Development, and Psychological Aspects of Sport. Every one of these courses gives just a little bit of different insight into the human mind and how we not only view others, but culture, ourselves, and how this all relates to exercise. Specifically Exercise and Health Psychology, gives future health professionals an insight to how one may approach their own health and view on exercise. It is often helpful and crucial to understand the different theories behind motivation and self-esteem in order to best help a patient. Psychological Aspects of Sport is also a course that focuses on the different aspects of sport such as team dynamics, coach and player relationships and how it affects sport, and coping with injury. This course is particularly helpful since many people who use occupational therapy services are often coping with injury. As an occupational therapist, I will be able to better understand what my client may be dealing with psychologically and therefore will be able to help them through rehabilitation more smoothly. Life Span Development is one of the most crucial credentials to entering graduate school as occupational therapists serve people as young as 3-6 months old to as old as 100+ years of age. Having the knowledge of how people develop socially, mentally, and physically throughout their lives will give me a better understanding of where my patient may be in his or her life. Lastly, Abnormal Psychology is a course that studies the abnormal patterns in emotion, thought, and behavior. Again, each patient or athlete that an occupational therapist works with is different and has their own story. Understanding these patterns is just another layer of knowledge I can acquire to better care for others as I help them through the rehabilitation process.
Cultural Anthropology is another course I have included on my contract. This course helped me understand different cultures and the different components that makes each culture unique. This is great knowledge to have in the health care field as I will meet many different people with many different backgrounds and being culturally aware is vital to serving my patients to the best of my ability.
My program is interdisciplinary for a variety of reasons, but the major reason is that it is truly a melting pot of disciplines. I seek knowledge from not only exercise-based fields, but also psychology, math, chemistry, physical education, health education, anthropology, and business. Within each of these disciplines I dove even further into the field to take courses covering multiple subjects in the discipline. I worked to create a program that will set me up for success by researching what classes and knowledge are needed to be best prepared for a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy. As I pursue Occupational Therapy I will be able to have a psychological knowledge base of what the patient is experiencing and how to best help them as well as an understanding of their exercise needs and the best route for treatment. With this program, I will be able to understand the body functions as a whole and have a strong baseline knowledge of my field before entering graduate school.
Update and Intellectual Journey: I am extremely close to completing my degree plan and am so excited to graduate this December. I have not changed my contract since creating it last fall. I have enjoyed every course in my contract and felt it has benefited me every step of the way. The preparation towards graduate school has been ideal and allowed me to get a solid fundamental knowledge of my field. I am hoping to use this knowledge gained to propel me forward into a successful future. Before joining the IDS program here at PSU, I planned on pursuing a degree in Exercise and Sport Physiology. However, I wanted more for my education and felt I was lacking an aspect of my field, psychology. Creating an IDS contract has allowed me to connect all areas of my desired field into one focused degree program that is designed for me. I chose to become an interdisciplinarian because I wanted more for my education and a degree that worked for me. I feel more prepared for my field and feel as though I have more to offer leaving Plymouth State. Becoming an interdisciplinarian has been the best choice I have made so far and am grateful to be part of such an amazing program.
Being from Detroit, I have worked with a variety of populations and since joining IDS have gained many experiences to broaden my intellectual life. I have worked for the past year in a nursing home with a large dementia population. I work in the Dietary Department and therefore I am in charge of assisting patients as they eat as well as making sure their food is appropriate for their diet. This experience has helped me understand and implement my classroom work into a field. Using information from a variety of courses such as life-span psychology and applied nutrition has been extremely helpful. Being able to apply this knowledge into the “real-life” work force has been an extremely cool and rewarding as I feel as though I am making a difference in the lives of others.
The reason I chose to pursue Exercise and Psychological Sciences was because I had a severe injury myself and want to be able to help others as others helped me. I think the connection between psychology and athletics is extremely important, but often overlooked. Being able to understand and implement both physical and mental performance is key to a healthy person and I hope to be part of that solution.
As a scholar, I have a lot of classes that have influenced my approach and thoughts about scholar. One class in particular is Abnormal Psychology. This class has changed how I view a variety of mental illnesses and increased my understanding of these conditions. This class has allowed me to explore the mental illnesses and relate them back to exercise and athletics. Athletes whether they are little league baseball players or professional football players deal with a lot of adversity which can increase anxiety and lead to other issues. In addition to classes, I have had several professors change my journey along the way. One professor being Pam Childs who has encouraged me to get involved and explore every option that I come across. Professor Childs has also pushed me to think more broadly about subjects and really understand what is going on in our world and how it affects athletics. Another professor has been none other than Dr. DeRosa. Dr. DeRosa has been an integral part of intellectual journey and encouraging me to be comprehensive with my degree. Dr. DeRosa has also been a great resource and inspiration when it comes to creating my ePort, PLN, and scholarly connections.
In regard to society and politics, I believe that how we care for mental health patients is often overlooked. I also believe we stigmatize mental health especially in the world of athletics. Athletes are pushed to be strong and mentally tough, however, they are one of the populations that struggle the most. I want to be part of the solution in bridging the gap between mental health and athletics. Although my essay shows a lot about me as person, I feel as though my experiences like internships really show what I have learned and the room for growth I have. My essay has no way of detailing all these experiences and the projects that I have been involved in. Each project, internship, and class has helped build the foundation I need to be a successful member of the sport psychology community.