From Dancer to Physical Therapist
Margaret (Mollie) Frederiksen '13, PT/s (student physical therapist)
Advanced Degrees: DPT in progress
Employer: DPT Program, MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA.
My studies within the dance department allowed me to hone in on my love of the human body and how it moves through space. I was able to explore this from both the dancer/choreographer perspective and through more scientific anatomical/biomechanical methods. Though I majored in dance, I was also pre-med and a biology minor, and putting those two concentrations together led me to choosing a career as a physical therapist. Through the dance department, I was able to intern with a physical therapist who worked for both the Boston Ballet School and the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts.
The Mount Holyoke College Dance Department made me a better dancer over my four years, but it also made me a smarter dancer. Taking "Scientific Foundations of Dance" opened my eyes to the world of biomechanics and kinesiology, and knowing how the body works to achieve the beautiful lines and shapes of dance changed my relationship with my own body in dance. It is this knowledge that I think makes me a better medical professional, and my current studies at MGH Institute of Health Professions continue to build upon the foundation that MHC created.
My history as a dancer combined with my interest in the human body and how it works drew me towards dance medicine. Working as a PT allows one to take a person from their injury and build them back up to be even stronger than they were before, and hopefully preventing further injuries. In the world of dance, we see countless injuries from faulty technique and overuse, more than any traumatic injury. Physical therapists can be there to both augment dance instruction and educate for injury prevention before these injuries even occur, as well as putting a dancer back together again.
Being a physical therapist isn't all about dance though. I love working with younger patients and active people, and sharing my love of movement me connect with my patients and build trust. It lets them know that I know what they're going through, and that I'm going to do everything I can to get them back to what they love to do. I still have a few years left of school, but with my experiences so far, I would not change anything along the path that brought me where I am now.