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Old 10-03-2011, 05:36 PM   #14
Donald Lee
Member Donald Lee is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Cypress  CA
Posts: 1,124
Re: Exercise Physiology

Originally Posted by Bryce Horrell View Post
Here is the university and the information about the Bachelors

Here is the information about the masters in clinical exercise physiology.

My father went to visit a cancer clinic and saw two exercise physiologists. He asked them about East Stroudsburg University and they gave him the thumbs up. That gave me a little more confidence in my choice too.
Bryce, that looks like a very solid curriculum. I don't know about the faculty, but just by looking at the undergraduate course work, it looks like a worthy pursuit. It looks like you will learn enough as an undergraduate, that you don't need as much coursework as a graduate student.

If you are willing to look elsewhere, Penn State has a good Kinesiology/Biomechanics program. Dr. Zatsiorsky is a part of the Biomechanics department there. I don't know how good their Ex Phys program is though. I also know that Ball State University and East Tennessee State University have good reputations. I'm assuming you want to stay near home though. Here's a list of all the graduate Ex Phys programs: (WFS)

So I'll tell you about my story, and then leave you with some stuff you might want to think about. I was a social science major back in college, and I decided to become an officer in the military. While training for the military, I caught the fitness and nutrition bug. I spent much more time reading about training and nutrition than I did studying for classes as a senior. I trained at a CrossFit affiliate for a few months and left when I developed shin splints. I couldn't finish my second 6 weeks at Officer Candidates School (OCS) the summer after graduation because of the shin splints. I spent the year off reading and training. By this time I had developed an interest in Naturopathic Medicine and was considering changing my career path after serving in the military.

During my second bout at OCS, I was able to help fellow Officer Candidates in terms of stretching, foam rolling, etc. in order to take care of their bodies. I ended up not getting commissioned, and when I got home, I decided to study for the C.S.C.S. exam. While looking into other career options, I looked into Osteopathic Medicine, as Naturopathic Medicine would no longer be economically feasible in my situation. CrossFit during this time had a very anti-science, anti-allopathic medicine, and practical over academic knowledge bent. I was being exposed to more and more evidence-based (this is a loaded term, so you can look it up if you don't know it) approaches, and I found that my simplistic views of health, fitness, and nutrition were inadequate at best.

I eventually decided to pursue an MD/PhD, but I needed to take the prerequisite courses. I enrolled in a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med program and moved across the country. I was expecting to receive Financial Aid from the federal government, as I had gone to college for 4 years and had 1 year left in federal aid. I thought I had done my research regarding paying for the Post-Bacc program, but after starting the program, I soon found out that the federal gov't has laws in place to screw over Post-Bacc students. Despite taking the same classes that undergraduates were taking, the federal gov't decided to offer no grants. Instead, they cap federal loans at $6,500 per semester, leaving the rest to be fulfilled by private loans and whatever means you have. I made a huge financial mistake, because I decided to attend a private university far away from home. I accumulated $70-80,000 in loans during my 1 year as a Post-Bacc. I planned on staying for a 2nd year to take Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Genetics, but banks would not approve me for loans for the 2nd year.

During my time as a Post-Bacc, I worked as a Personal Trainer at a commercial gym. There's a lot of negatives to working at a commercial gym, but it's also a good learning experience. You get to learn on the job, as commercial gym PTs are largely incompetent in terms of knowledge. What they are good at is talking to people and telling people stuff they've read on the internet, in magazines, or from their certifications. Training knowledge-competence is not a requirement to getting a PT job at a commercial gym, and they overhire PTs so it's relatively easy to get a job as long as you have any certification. Most PTs will have no idea what a C.S.C.S. is and don't care about certification quality, so you should erase any sense of superiority or pride you might have in that respect.

I also did research in a Biochemistry Lab, which was invaluable experience I would not have gotten from reading textbooks or taking laboratory courses. Mentorship is very highly regarded in science circles, as you may come to find. It is akin to apprenticeship. The professor I did research for became my mentor and pushed me to develop my critical thinking and research and laboratory skills. She also provided me with graduate school/career advice.

I'm also finishing up a 1.5 year program in Massage Therapy. My lack of knowledge of anatomy and soft tissue work bothered me, so I decided to attend a second school while I was a Post-Bacc. There is a lot of new age type stuff that goes on in Massage Therapy School, but it is a good balance to the hard science, logic, rigidity of the science/research world. You learn to appreciate other aspects of life, even if you think "energy" is B.S. With respects to the soft tissue work, I go to a quality school, so I have learned a lot of hands on skills that I would never have been able to learn without school.

That's pretty much where I am now. I'm looking into a research job at the NIH before pursuing the MD/PhD in a few years. An Md/PhD is extremely competitive, so there is a lot that I still have to do before I can become a competitive applicant. You can see that I am very school/formal knowledge/doing things right-oriented. From your posts, it seems that you are the same way.

Here are some take-home points I've learned along the way:

1. Formal education, no matter how noble, does not guarantee anything. You may spend a lot of time and money on a formal education and find out that nobody cares (including potential employers). Lawyers, doctors, and professors require post-graduate degrees, but sometimes, a graduate degree will make you look like you were afraid to get a job.

2. Experience trumps education. If you are disciplined and are patient, you can learn a lot of book knowledge on your own. You can read all about interpersonal communication, leadership, ex phys, biomechanics, programming, etc., but you may be surprised at how little that will mean if you don't have experience working with people.

3. Career-changing can be a long, arduous, lonely, and expensive road. It is also likely to not happen in the linear fashion you planned.

4. Get mentors, and listen to what they have to say. Even if you think they pessimistic idealism crushers, take everything they say into account. It's good to have multiple people to whom you can talk, as our world has become highly specialized. Even a graduate degree in Ex Phys can take you down many different tracks, and many will have had very different experiences along the way.

Bryce, I'd make sure your financial calculations are right, especially regarding receiving outside money. If you received FAFSA for your BFA, you shouldn't be getting federal grants again. I believe you are allowed 5 years of federal aid as an undergraduate.

If you have any questions that come up along the way, feel free to PM me.
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