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Tim Carlson shares what going back to school -- and ultimately deciding to be a speech pathologist -- has taught him about setting goals and taking on big challenges. Image source:

Posted in Blog, News.

October 20th, 2014

Tim Talks About Taking On a Big Challenge: “You Can Do It!”

Going back to school—or any other life-changing decision—can be scary. You’re signing up for a ton of hard work and a period of time where you’re earning little or no money with the hopes of being happier and more fulfilled in your new career. Plus, you’re never totally sure that you’ve made the right decision until you do it.

If you’ve been a patient recently at Finish Line Physical Therapy, chances are I’ve talked about this with you in-person while you were stretching your hip flexors. While it’s a big challenge, don’t let it intimidate you if it’s something you really want.

I realized a few years ago that I wanted to work in a helping profession. My research led to a job opportunity as a PT aide at Finish Line PT. This gave me the chance to see patients work through challenges with their physical therapist — and come out healthier. I often worked with patients one-on-one while they went through exercises, and I got to talk with them about their goals. It was so motivating to see them put in the work to get stronger. Those experiences gave me confidence that I was on the right track to finding my future career.

A friend of mine who works as a speech-language pathologist invited me to observe her work in a school for autistic children. It was an opportunity to see another profession in action, and I love kids, so I accepted. It fascinated me seeing her meet the individual needs of kids along the autism spectrum. I came away feeling my skills and personality would be best suited for speech therapy. But there was still the matter of going back to school.

The master’s program for speech-language pathology is typically two and a half years, so it was clearly a big decision. But for me, it also meant completing a host of pre-requisite courses since my undergraduate degree was in English. I wanted to take the next step, so I talked it over with my wife and decided to sign up for a single class —- an intensive four-week summer class. It went well, and I felt confident enough to sign up for another. Fast-forward 13 months, and I finished eight courses, all while working full-time. It was a lot of hard work, but it was achievable with dedication and the support of those closest to me.

I applied to graduate school earlier this month. It’s funny to look back a year ago to a time when completing these eight classes felt like it would take a lifetime. A step-by-step approach helped me to make the process feel more manageable.

It reminds me of many conversations I’ve had with patients about their own training. Running a marathon or doing a triathlon sounds daunting, but breaking the work up into chunks takes away some of the fear and makes you more willing to try to reach your goals. Have confidence if you’re on the fence about pursuing something you’re passionate about. YOU CAN DO IT!

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