David J. Mueller had his future planned. As a competitive figure skater in high school, he would indulge in his love of the sport while attending college as an English major—all leading to a career as a best-selling novelist. And then, as with many best-laid plans, they went awry.
“Right before my senior year of high school, I had incurred stress fractures in my lumbar spine from landing figure skating jumps,” said Mueller. “Surgery was not necessary, but physical therapy was. I went to physical therapy for three months, and a special strength and conditioning program for another nine months after that, and could not return to jumping on the ice for six months. During this time I learned about the process of my healing, and was able to appreciate what physical therapists did.”
Used to performing on the ice, Mueller focused all of his energy into his therapy program. “Physical therapy became my new activity, and it brought me back to my passion of figure skating,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do that—I wanted to bring people back to the activities that they missed, and allow them to have fun and smile while they were engaged in that process.”
A new direction and career chosen, Mueller decided to attend UB’s DPT program after being impressed with the quality of the curriculum. “I had heard good things about the program, and when I was given a tour of the program’s buildings and lab, I felt that it was the perfect fit for me. It turns out that I was right!"
“I enjoyed having a class size that was small enough for the teachers to really know each individual student, and for those students to really have the ability to connect with one another in the three years they’re together in the program," he said.
“I also enjoyed that our program offered 52 weeks of clinical experience in five different locations, with the opportunity to practice in three physical therapy settings—acute, sub-acute, outpatient. This gave me the ability to put the concepts from the classroom into practice, and to bring the experience from the real world back into the classroom.
“Lastly, I enjoyed our professors, who took the time to teach us, and who met with us when we had questions. They went out of their way to mentor us and help us, so we would succeed in this doctoral program, all the while preparing us for life ahead as practicing physical therapists.”
Mueller graduated in 2013 and has since been accepted into The Johns Hopkins Hospital and George Washington University Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency. The 13-month residency provides clinical and educational experience in the orthopaedic specialty and prepares residents for becoming Orthopaedic Certified Specialists (OCS).