Growing up, Lisa Bierdeman was always passionate about helping people, especially when it came to health and wellness. “I felt I had a calling to help others better themselves and live healthy lives,” she said.
After high school, Bierdeman studied biology at Roberts Wesleyan College with plans of attending medical school. However, after playing three years of college volleyball, she realized a different career path was evolving.
“In my eyes, it’s almost like an art to sculpt your body so that it can perform properly during a sporting event or even during activities of daily living,” she explained. “I also saw so many injuries and knew I wanted to help those who are suffering and so I decided that the best career path for me would be physical therapy.
“My dad earned his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from UB so I looked into their undergraduate programs knowing that they had excellent graduate programs,” said Bierdeman. “The physical therapy program is nationally ranked and they have great facilities to accommodate learning. Also, when I was looking into how I was going to transfer my credits, professors were always willing to help.”
UB’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program begins with prerequisite coursework in the exercise science BS program. The coursework provides a solid understanding of movement and exercise in healthy populations. The three-year, graduate professional DPT program that follows focuses heavily on clinical populations and teaching the assessment and treatment of individuals with a variety of ailments.
Bierdeman began the graduate portion of the DPT program in 2013.
“I really enjoyed how the DPT program was set up so that we worked together as a class to be successful,” she said. “On day one we talked about how this is a team effort and every day we are encouraged to strive to be the best therapy students we can be. I also love that physical therapy is heavily evidence-based, and it’s great to be at a university with so much of that research going on right here.
“Foundations of Physical Therapy with Dr. Personius was by far my favorite class since we were already learning skills that would help us be better clinicians when we step into the clinic,” said Bierdeman. “And the lab portion gave us the opportunity to practice with classmates."
“It was also great looking forward to the 52 weeks that we spent in the clinic over three years. I knew we would be so incredibly prepared for our careers once we graduated.”