An Exercise Science Summer

Sep 1, 2017

by Dr. Sara Terrell
Assistant Professor of Exercise Science

It’s the start of the school year and inevitably the question you hear circulated around campus is, “tell me what you did this summer…” You know how it goes. Students and faculty alike then explain the multitude of different activities they completed, etc., etc.

But, for many of our exercise science senior students, their summer involved completing EXS 4960, Applied Experiences in Exercise Science. Students accrue hours at a professional allied health site related to their career interest as a component to completing this required major course. The educational thrust of the Applied Experiences course is to provide students:

  • A greater understanding of the day-to-day business operations of an allied health setting
  • Multiple opportunities to develop professional skills and competencies
  • A greater appreciation for the professional community which academic curriculum alone cannot convey.

So, how did I spend my summer? Well, as the faculty member overseeing this course, I had the privilege of conducting site visits to many locations throughout central Florida where my students were learning.

I enjoyed visiting sites such as Florida Hospital in Orlando, watching my student immersed in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. I travelled to Tampa, to observe two elite sports performance training facilities where students trained athletes as young as junior high to those competing for contracts in the NFL and MLB.

Bobby Ormsby, who interned with a chiropractic clinic in Naples, Florida, admitted, “this experience changed my life. I went in to this experience not knowing what I wanted to do after school but now it is clear. I want to become a chiropractor and help as many people as I can.”

Dr. Feddler working with exercise science students.

Elite training was not limited to the United States. I had students in their respective home counties of Norway and Spain who were involved in training athletes across the life spectrum. Although I did not do a site visit there (bummer!), I was able to conduct multiple virtual meetings.

For students pursuing personal training, one student found himself in a high-end Hollywood, California fitness club, while another worked locally in central Florida with a diverse client spectrum. Rounding out the site locations were exercise science students who were accruing experience at chiropractic and physical therapy clinics, as well as in sports administration, at the high school level.

I enjoyed seeing my students in action and truly do not consider conducting site visits as work in the summer. This is largely in part because I am receiving weekly student reports or phone calls from my students who report how they have developed a new perspective and cultivated professional competencies while working at their respective sites.

Honestly, the students’ newly obtained perspective is one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a faculty member throughout a student’s tenure in our exercise science major.

For instance, Erin Klein, who interned at Applied Sports Performance Institute (ASPI) in Tampa, Florida, an elite athlete training facility stated, "This internship experience has opened my eyes to elite training. I witnessed all types of training and coaching techniques by working with elite professional coaches. I actually assisted some of the best athletes in the country in achieving their performance goals.”

Anecdotes such as Erin and Bobby’s provide a snapshot of the many positive experiences my students reported this summer and confirm that experiential education like EXS 4960 can be transformational and life changing.

Engaged learning, a pillar we encourage at Florida Southern and within the exercise science program, encourages learners to conduct meaningful inquiry, reflect, think critically, and develop learning strategies for dealing with real-world challenges. Engaged learning may take place in a variety of settings such as the multiplicity of the sites our students interned with this summer.

All of our FSC exercise science students received high marks from their preceptors which only bodes well for our program for future students. In that light, many of my senior students will be sharing their summer stories in our classes with our younger majors this fall, a high impact practice which can have incredible influence on students who have yet to complete the course.

So, when I ask the question about what students did this summer, Erin has assured me she will offer heartfelt advice, of which includes, “work hard, be eager to learn, and enjoy your experience; an internship will have the potential to open other doors and may lead to your future employment after graduation.”