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Generation Next: University of Jamestown student charts path to career in physical therapy

Megan Tietjen, a student of exercise science and psychology, says a lowkey schedule is not for her.

Megan Tietjen
Megan Tietjen , a student at the University of Jamestown, is pursuing a career in physical therapy. She is set to graduate in spring 2023.
Image: Courtesy of Megan Tietjen
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JAMESTOWN, N.D. • Megan Tietjen, a student of exercise science and psychology at the University of Jamestown, likes to keep busy.

Check that off her list. She keeps plenty busy between her class studies, being a member of the school’s track team, and getting ready to intern at a therapy clinic during spring semester. Besides her double major, she also is minoring in character leadership.

A lowkey schedule is not for her.

Tietjen is pursuing a career in physical therapy – but first, she has to graduate, which she is on track to do in spring 2023 in Jamestown, North Dakota. Afterward, she will attend graduate school at the University of Jamestown campus in Fargo.

Physical therapy is right up her alley for at least a couple of reasons. It’s a busy profession, she says, and it is one in which she is able to help others – something that is important for her to fulfill in her career. She wants to get up in the morning knowing she will be helping others, and go to bed at night knowing that her mission has been accomplished.

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“I always knew I wanted to be a physical therapist,” she said. “I figured that out in high school.”

Next, she needed to decide where she wanted to study. For Tietjen, originally from Hampton, Minnesota, that decision also became fairly easy once she learned about the University of Jamestown.

She first attended Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, during her junior and senior years of high school, and so when she arrived at UJ she already had her associate’s degree. Once she arrived, she decided to choose a double major in psychology, something she believes will add benefit to her career pursuits as a physical therapist.

While at Jamestown she also has played on the school’s volleyball and track and field teams. Having those opportunities, she said, has been “super cool.” And she said her instructors are, in a word, awesome.

“I love all of my instructors. They all are super-caring people,” she said. “I can go and sit in the office for hours and talk to them whenever. And they care. They care about the students, which is super nice. We never have TAs (teaching assistants) teaching our classes. It is always the instructors.” She said the instructors are involved in other areas of campus life, and it is always fun for her to attend sporting events and see her professors there cheering on the school team.

Tietjen says she has not yet decided what area of focus she plans to pursue in physical therapy, but one interest is athletic therapy, helping athletes recover from their injuries. She also is interested in working with the physically disabled or even inmates at a prison.

The future might be at her doorstep, but she still has time to decide what she will focus on.

What’s more, Tietjen has been involved in her pursuits long enough to offer some advice to others who may be considering a career in physical therapy.

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“One thing I would tell them is to start looking at grad schools before you decide where you want to go for undergrad,” she said. “And look at all the different program opportunities there are, like direct entry. I know a lot of different grad schools have accelerated programs, so you're going to grad school for only two years instead of three.

“For University, Jamestown, if students are interested in coming here, I would say come visit. Come meet with the students and the faculty and see how much they truly care about you. That's not something you get everywhere else. It's a big community and we all know each other and you just don't get that at state schools.”

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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