Carter Bradford

Carter Bradford poses with two skeletons

For Tennessee Tech sophomore Carter Bradford, the path to becoming a physical therapist began at a young age. As a high school athlete who suffered his fair share of injuries, Bradford found support and guidance from the physical therapists at his local outpatient clinic.

"I've always had a good connection with my outpatient clinic back home," Bradford said. "They helped me get back to my normal self, if not stronger."

In addition to his positive experiences as a patient, Bradford has long had a fascination with the human body and how it moves. When it came time to choose a college major, physical therapy felt like a natural fit that would allow him to combine his interests in sports, movement, and helping others. 

At Tennessee Tech, Bradford is pursuing his undergraduate degree in exercise science with a pre-physical therapy concentration. He has immersed himself in courses like Functional Movement, Characterization of Athletic Injuries and Structural Anatomy. Bradford lights up when describing these hands-on classes that provide clinical knowledge applicable to real-world physical therapy practice.

"I think it's crazy to think that our body heals itself - like when you get a broken bone, your body is going to go to work and replace that bone," he said. "The way our bodies redirect themselves...I just think it's really cool."

Outside the classroom, Bradford is gaining valuable practical experience as well. He has shadowed therapists at local clinics to observe examples of patient care. Additionally, Bradford plans to complete a field experience course that will provide 120 hours of clinical observation.

In addition to the knowledge of the body, Bradford is learning that another essential part of working in physical therapy is developing people skills as well.

"You'll be working with someone else almost every day, so learning how to work with a patient and developing your social skills in general is important,” he said. “At first, talking one-on-one with a patient can be awkward, but that will be probably 70 percent of your job, so getting early experience and exposure that is only going to help you in the long run.”

Though the major involves years of study and memorization, Bradford says he’s felt Tech has put him on the path to success.

“The whole exercise science staff and faculty are helpful and they love what they're teaching, and they're always there to help,” he said. “There’s a majors club meeting and they pair you up with other people in your concentration. We all have similar interests, so, I feel like it’s a big family.

“My favorite memories at Tech have been when you're done with classes on a Friday, and then there's maybe a sporting event going on, and you’re just going out with friends. Even just dropping in or going to hang out someplace. The college life in general – I’ve enjoyed it so much.”

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