IHP courses completed by Tarryn Teresak ’21 led to fulfilling her goal of becoming a physical therapist.
When Tarryn Teresak works with patients recovering from injuries, she knows first-hand what they are going through.
Teresak knows because she had multiple injuries, including rotator cuff surgeries on both shoulders, courtesy of a competitive swimming career that culminated with her competing as a Division 1 athlete at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
“I've done a lot of PT in my lifetime, and I've had a lot of different injuries, so I love the concept that everyone who sees a physical therapist wants to better themselves,” said the New Jersey native, who graduated in 2021 from the MGH Institute’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. “It definitely came into play as to why I wanted to become one. I like that I can see patients regularly and see them improve.”
Teresak originally had thought of pursuing a law degree after earning a bachelor’s in political science with a minor in comparative literature, but after returning to her hometown and starting a job as a purchasing analyst, she realized the corporate world was not for her.
When Teresak began looking at applying to physical therapy schools, she discovered she needed to take a series of prerequisite courses first. After completing a couple of classes at a local community college back home, she moved to the Boston area and took a job as a rehabilitation assistant in the outpatient rehab department at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. A co-worker told her of the Institute’s online prerequisite courses, which was a good fit as she was working full time and needed flexibility. Ultimately, she took 10 courses worth 38 credits, everything from anatomy and biology to chemistry and physics.
“The weekly coursework was manageable, the online forums exposed me to other students with similar goals, and all the professors teaching the courses were fantastic,” said the 31-year-old, who described herself as a “classic career changer.” “The faculty were all very accessible and happy to respond to any messages and questions.”
She applied to several PT programs, but because of her experience with the prerequisites, she wanted to remain at the school, citing the program’s modular curriculum in which students spend four weeks on one subject to build on previous classes and clinical experiences. So, it was an easy decision when she received the IHP’s acceptance letter to start the DPT program in the summer of 2019.
Teresak was in her third semester when the coronavirus pandemic moved all classes to an online format for which her prerequisite course experience prepared her. The DPT program faculty, with support from departments such as information technology, pivoted to remote learning in which most students – including her – completed their programs on time.
After having clinical placements at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Marblehead, Brighton, and Cambridge locations, Teresak spent her third-year paid internship in the inpatient rehabilitation facility at Spaulding in Charlestown. After graduating, she remained in the unit while studying for and passing her licensing board exam.
“The IHP has such fantastic connections,” Teresak said. “I felt so lucky to have had those placements.”
Today, she works with patients with neurological and spinal cord injuries at Spaulding in Charlestown, one of many IHP physical therapy graduates who work at the hospital.
“When I look back, I'm so glad I went to the Institute,” Teresak said. “I love this profession.”
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