A strong passion for supporting others leads student to the D.P.T. program at RUC
If there are words that exemplify second-year Radford University Carilion (RUC) Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) student Natalie Weber, they are empathic, compassionate and caring. From the patients she works with to her classmates, Weber continually works to find ways to support others and improve their lives.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to help others,” Weber said. “Whether it’s through physical therapy-related volunteer opportunities or supporting my fellow D.P.T. students, I want to be a resource for others.”
One of the ways Weber has advocated for her classmates is by taking a leadership role as the second-year class president in the D.P.T. program.
“It was important for me to become involved in class leadership because I have a strong passion for helping my peers become the best clinicians they can be,” Weber said. “As class president, I work as the liaison between my cohort and faculty to recommend changes and allow our program to consistently improve and serve our students better.”
Weber has advocated for her classmates in a number of ways, including requesting more breaks during courses to allow for proper concentration, improving communication between faculty regarding exam weeks and creating new methods of communication regarding faculty and departmental changes.
In addition, Weber said she has worked to develop self-care outlets for her classmates, including making goody bags during tough exam weeks, setting up review sessions with professors and informing them of opportunities in the community and department that could further their educational experiences.
Weber is also making an impact in the Roanoke community where RUC is located. She volunteers at the Bradley Free Clinic, which provides free healthcare, including physical therapy, to low-income, working patients using volunteers. Weber assists in evaluations and providing treatment under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
“I have been able to serve as a student physical therapist at this facility,” Weber said. “It has been amazing to make an impact on the lives of so many people across the Roanoke Valley.”
Weber was initially drawn to the D.P.T. program at RUC for opportunities like these, but she found so much more once she started classes.
“I could tell the faculty truly cared about the students’ success and well-being,” she recalled. “This was a big factor for me in selecting this program because I came from an undergraduate program that was similar and saw how large of an impact this can have.”
Weber said that the main dynamic that RUC creates is one of a family.
“The small size and individual attention students receive at RUC makes it a special place to learn,” Weber said. “The times I interact with faculty, staff or fellow students, I receive nothing but smiles, positivity and genuine concern for others.”
In addition, Weber said the facilities at RUC are state of the art and provide students with the ability to take their education to the next level.
Weber expects to graduate in 2023 and already has her career mapped out.
“I hope to begin working as a pediatric physical therapist,” Weber said. “I was initially drawn to pediatrics because I was a gymnast growing up, so my first job was coaching the young kids at my facility. I have always loved interacting with children and helping them achieve their dreams.”
Weber said that being able to combine her dream career with a population that she loves getting to work with will be the perfect fit.
“I am hopeful and excited to see where this career takes me,” Weber said. “Thanks to Radford, I feel fully prepared to be the best physical therapist I can be.”