Jeffrey working with fellow physical therapy students.

Jeffrey’s Bio

  • Major: Doctor of Physical Therapy program
  • Hometown: Stony Brook, New York

Jeffrey Sam knew he would get a lot out of UB’s physical therapy program. But it’s what he would not be getting that he liked most.

UB’s six-year doctoral program is one year shorter than most physical therapy programs, which means a streamlined entry to the workforce. And, as one of the nation’s leaders in providing an affordable education, UB’s cost is relatively low. Pairing those together sets Jeffrey up to graduate with a smaller debt load than with other programs nationwide.

“I applied to other colleges and I got accepted to their PT programs, but the price of it was too much for my family. I knew my debt was going to be a large burden,” Jeffrey said. “But here my debt is going to be more manageable. And UB ended up being a better-ranked PT program, so I didn’t mind at all.”

“I want to end up being a teacher, a mentor and a clinical instructor for other students who are in my clinic. I want to be someone who has an impact on the younger generation.”

Helping Jeffrey from the financial aspect was a Daniel Acker Scholarship, which provided him with full tuition for three years of undergraduate sudy and defrayed the cost for his first year of professional study.

Jeffrey talking with fellow students on UB's South Campus.

Jeffrey and friends sitting outside of Harriman Hall.

In UB’s DPT program, students spend their first three years as undergrads. After three semesters of prerequisites, they apply for entry to the exercise science major. If accepted, they are then eligible to apply for the doctoral program in physical therapy, which begins in the fourth year. The final three years includes more academic work and 52 weeks — a full year — of clinical experiences.

“It’s a really good program for clinical experiences, because not many programs have 52 weeks, which I think is great,” Jeffrey said. “That’s a great aspect of the program, being able to have all those experiences, allowing you to be more proficient and efficient as a physical therapist and making you a better candidate for job opportunities.”

It’s good to get away

Crossing the state and leaving his parents and younger sister to come to Buffalo has also been a good move for Jeffrey. While difficult to leave behind the comforts of home, he’s discovered that his increased responsibility and independence outweigh the negatives. Living in an apartment in Flint Village, Jeffrey finds himself cooking a lot more and going out bowling regularly for fun. He’s also had the opportunity to volunteer at Sisters Hospital and get involved with the Academies.

Jeffrey in physical therapy class.

Jeffrey works on his technique.

Jeffrey joined the Civic Engagement Academy’s shared interest housing as a sophomore and soon become a mentor for the program. As part of the Academies, Jeffrey has volunteered for university and community events, toured downtown Buffalo and visited the Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls.

“They make a huge school into a small living and learning community,” Jeffrey said. “Being able to explore an area that I considered new to me became a hobby. Here I am able to do things on my own, create my own experiences and develop my own path for my future.”

Running in place

Jeffrey has also been involved in research, though he started out as a study participant. He was a volunteer subject in a study looking at the effects of short-burst, high-intensity interval training. He and other subjects were monitored for a series of 15-minute treadmill workouts over the course of a few months to try to determine how much workout time is necessary to have a beneficial effect on time-crunched adults.

After his turn as a participant, Jeffrey asked the study’s lead professor if he needed an assistant and joined the study as a researcher the following year.

Slowing down

Time is a big factor in Jeffrey’s career aspirations. He has long held an interest in medicine, but he noticed that physicians spend very little one-on-one time with their patients. While in high school, Jeffrey volunteered at a physical therapy clinic and was enamored with the personal connection he was able to make with patients.

“If you go to a physician nowadays, he or she will see you for five minutes and you’re out of there,” Jeffrey said. “Physical therapy, you’re there for 30 minutes or more. It allows more time for one-on-one communication with a patient.

“A lot of patients appreciate that. They really appreciate the amount of time the physical therapist puts into listening to their patients. Most patients just want someone to listen to them and hear what their issues are.”

And, Jeffrey knows from experience that if you can help alleviate their pain or achieve their goals, all the better.

“I was working with one patient and she started walking, and she started tearing up. Having the knowledge to progress a patient from being wheelchair-bound to walking independently is an exciting experience, especially since I will be by their side every step of the way.”

The next step

Upon completing his degree, Jeffrey would like to head to New York City and pursue a residency in orthopedics. And he feels he’s as prepared as he can possibly be.

“I thought the program would get me where I wanted to go. But after coming here I realized how much they offered — the research, even the history of Buffalo was really interesting,” he said. “With the goals I’ve accomplished, I guess I’m impressed by myself. Not in an arrogant way, but I’m happy that I pushed myself to continue to do more than the bare minimum. I feel that I’ve been successful in that aspect. I never thought I could achieve so much.”

Last updated: March 13, 2014 11:10 am EST