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Two-time UAB grad Justin Kirk first came to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a biology major on the pre-PT track. However, after meeting other pre-PT majors and learning about kinesiology, he switched his major and never looked back.

Kirk graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology in 2015 and immediately began UAB's Physical Therapy program, which he completed in 2018. He now works as a physical therapist at UAB Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

"I quickly switched my major because the anatomy, physiology, exercise, and human movement courses in the kinesiology program supported my career goals more than learning microbiology and plant structures," Kirk said.

UAB offers multiple majors to prepare students for roles in health-related fields like medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and more. The kinesiology major helps prepare students for the challenges of physical therapy school due to the curriculum's focus on exercise, movement, and human physiology.

Kirk feels the UAB Kinesiology program prepared him the best for physical therapy school and clinical practice.

"Studying kinesiology prepared me for PT school and, ultimately, clinical practice better than any other major could have. Studying kinesiology allowed me to take human physiology, human anatomy, applied kinesiology, exercise testing and prescription, and sports injury classes, which helped make concepts in PT school much easier to grasp," he said. "As a practicing physical therapist, I still spend a large portion of my time thinking about exercise science, biomechanics, and exercise prescription to optimize patient outcomes and performance."

Kirk particularly enjoyed courses at UAB that focused on the human anatomy.

"I enjoyed taking human anatomy at UAB because the lab portion of the course allows you to learn about the human body on cadavers," Kirk said. "Learning human anatomy with cadavers in undergrad is a rare opportunity, and it prepared me well for taking anatomy in physical therapy school."

Kirk sees patients through the Sports and Exercise Medicine Clinic at UAB Hospital-Highlands and works with student-athletes in UAB Athletics' training room.

Outside of his clinical work setting, he also trains future generations of health professionals by allowing kinesiology students to intern under him and teach courses in the UAB Physical Therapy program. Additionally, he assists with a multi-disciplinary musculoskeletal elective class for the Heersink School of Medicine alongside Dr. Amit Momaya.

Although no longer a student, Kirk shares that building relationships and network is crucial for current students.

"Learn as much as you can and get to know your professors because those relationships can be impactful,” he said. “It's also important to be involved in various activities and organizations that challenge you, help you grow, and expand your horizons to become the best version of yourself. It can also help your application stand out when you apply to PT school."