Thinking about the rehabilitation science program at Mason? Our current students and alumni share why they chose to pursue their rehabilitation science education at Mason and how the program and faculty helped them further their educational and professional goals.
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PhD student, anticipated graduation May 2019
I realized that finding the right program that best fit my interest and focus on the “bigger picture” was important to fulfill my goals. The Department of Rehabilitation Science has an excellent reputation for performing high-quality scientific research. I chose to come to Mason because I knew I would receive the support I needed to develop as a scholar. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the rehabilitation science program, and my research interest in pulmonary rehabilitation is extremely aligned with the program. Professors work with students one-on-one and take an active interest in their progress. The program has given me a chance to prove myself and I'm beginning to really enjoy the process of scientific research.
As I was interviewing at various PhD programs, I was struggling to identify a specific area of interest to pursue. Dr. Guccione reassured me that it was the responsibility of the department and the faculty to mentor me into an area that I was interested in but also an area in which I could use my previous education and experiences to contribute to the field of rehabilitation science, a response that I did not receive on other interviews. There is a major emphasis on question development in the department here at Mason. As I have learned during my time as a PhD student here at Mason, a sound, plausible question is the foundation for a well-designed research study. I believe the emphasis on conceptualization, question development, and active learning through intellectual discussion inside and outside the classroom is what makes the rehabilitation science program at Mason different from other programs. The Department of Rehabilitation Science offers students an ideal environment to develop into future academics and researchers with the potential of making major contributions to the future of the field.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Clinical Exercise and Movement Science minor because it gave me opportunities I would not have found elsewhere at George Mason. The professors are excellent educators and the smaller class sizes allow them to teach each student individually to truly help them understand the class concepts. The students in the Rehabilitation Science program are also very helpful, whether it be classmates eager to share in your learning and help you with a group project, or graduate students eager to share their time and knowledge. Without the Rehabilitation Science program I would not be prepared academically for the road ahead, but I would also not be ready to be a true professional in my field. I will be attending the University of Miami Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in the fall of 2014, and I can honestly say that it is due in large part to the amazing program here at Mason.
When I was researching doctoral programs, I wanted one where there seemed to be the greatest potential to most fully capitalize on both the extensive academic work I had previously done within health research and developmental psychology and my diverse life and work experiences. The Department of Rehabilitation Science seemed to provide a new challenge regarding how best to support human development once a chronic illness or injury had intervened in the life history of the individual and seemingly placed limitations on that development. I was excited by the opportunity to merge both the behavioral and biologic, something that I saw as missing in other programs and sorely needed within health research.
The rehabilitation science program at Mason was unlike most programs I visited. I was not going to follow the individual in front of me; independent thought is major variable built into this program. I know others who are in different programs where they are collecting a lot of data and sitting through classes where they are expected to memorize facts. Our program, which is full of content, also stresses learning how these facts are obtained and if they are what they are presented as. I would encourage students who are serious about developing a new level of intelligence and working within an interdisciplinary program to consider the rehabilitation science program at Mason. I would also encourage them to be open-minded as challenging conventional thinking is not easy.
I chose Mason because of the rehabilitation science faculty. Each is accomplished in his or her respective disciplines within the rehabilitation science fields. In addition to their active participation in meaningful research, each is committed to mentoring and helping students succeed. Studying at Mason provided me with a great research network and with lifelong mentors. Faculty involve students in their research projects early on and integrate class experiences with research pursuits. Every class helps students develop lines of individual research and fosters creativity and scientific rigor. While I was a student, I was very fortunate to work closely with Mason faculty and researchers at the National Institutes of Health on a project examining the effects of exercise on individuals with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Our work demonstrated that participation in an exercise program similar to that of contemporary pulmonary rehabilitation programs improves physical performance and health-related quality of life, and can be accomplished with seemingly very little risk to participants. This body of work was instrumental in helping to change international medical practice guidelines that now recommend rehabilitative exercise for individuals with pulmonary arterial hypertension.