While managing a busy Chicago restaurant that was part of a major hotel on Michigan Ave., Diane Baldemor, PTS-II, wasn't thinking about pursuing a career in the healthcare field. She was enjoying her work and the challenges of motivating the staff and keeping patrons happy. However, a trip to the gym during her off hours changed her outlook and, as a result, her career path took a dramatic turn.
"I was on a treadmill and I saw the lady next to me who had multiple sclerosis working with a physical therapist. The PT was making such a real difference in her life and that's what I really wanted. I wanted to impact people that way," Diane said. This realization, along with the downturn in the economy, led Diane to consider a career in the healthcare field.
There's such a sense of professionalism here. Everyone has set a goal to be great in whatever field they chose."
— Diane Baldemor, PTS-II
"My parents are both in the medical field, and I didn't want to go that route initially. But, I got nervous for my future in the hotel/restaurant management industry in a bad economy. I enjoy working out and being physically active, so I started researching physical therapy. I decided I really liked the field and the opportunity it offers to do something meaningful," she said. After observing physical therapists in a variety of workplace settings and volunteering at a hospital and pediatric clinic, Diane decided to apply to Midwestern University's Physical Therapy Program. "When I visited the campus, I felt welcomed. I came from a huge university and it was difficult but fun at the same time," she relates. "For my graduate degree, I wanted something that was more intimate because this was such a huge transition for me."
At Midwestern, she found a supportive atmosphere and faculty members who are both knowledgeable and encouraging. "Starting over as a student is the biggest challenge I've had so far. The work load is very challenging and with Midwestern being on quarter system, it's very fast-paced," Diane said. "It really helps that professors are very encouraging and want to help you reach your goal of working in the field," she said.
Diane thinks the overall atmosphere and focus on healthcare at the University also helps students succeed. "There's such a sense of professionalism here. Everyone has set a goal to be great in whatever field they chose. I am taking classes with students in all the other programs and everyone is willing to help each other," she said. Diane also believes she is learning valuable skills for her future career in healthcare. "Here I get to practice communication skills with students in other programs in ways that I think are similar to what I'll experience after I graduate. Midwestern is prepping us for the future because we're all going to be in health professions."
When not in classes, Diane keeps a very active schedule that includes playing paintball with friends, dancing, and doing yoga. "Being from the hotel and restaurant world, I also am an avid foodie and I love trying out new and unique local restaurants," she added.
One of the major undertakings for the first-year physical therapy class was the Halloween Fest. This popular event is coordinated by several student groups and draws thousands of area children and their parents for a safe trick-or-treating event and a haunted house. Diane was one of the class leaders for the Fest and was able to tap into her management expertise to make sure everything ran smoothly. "It was a lot of fun and brought back some of the planning skills and creativity I had in hotel management," she said.
As she continues with her studies, Diane is excited about her future and the many opportunities open to physical therapists. "I am looking forward to learning more about the PT field and trying to figure out where I fit in that niche of physical therapists," she said. "I can't wait to graduate and get started."
Diane Baldemor is a second-year student in the Physical Therapy Program on the Downers Grove Campus of Midwestern University.