Q&A: Jacob Norton, Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Hometown: Clarksville, Iowa

Undergraduate education: Exercise Science and Aging and Longevity Studies, University of Iowa

Jacob Norton and his wife sit outdoors in a park, smiling at the camera.

What experiences made the biggest impact on your time here?

The curriculum was rigorous and took a lot of time and energy to achieve success. The days were oftentimes long and demanded discipline, which made the weeks go fast. The amount of knowledge I obtained over the course of two and a half years was a lot, and being able to learn with close friends and people who continued to challenge me every day not only helped push me as a student, but it also showed me what hard work is and what it takes to be the best that I can be as a physical therapist.

Who was your most important mentor?

One thing that really shaped me was that even though all the professors are very smart individuals, and the curriculum is rigorous, they treat you like a colleague when you’re in the program. That teacher-student relationship, learning from them as people and looking up to them, helped me grow as a person, a professional, and a physical therapist.

What will you remember most fondly after leaving the Carver College of Medicine?

I felt our class really blended well together. We had people from all over the country, and it was really nice that everyone in the class got along together so well. We spent a lot of time together in the classroom, but also off campus competing in intramural sports, tailgates, and other events that we coordinated as a class.

When you’re in class from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., five days a week, you get really close with your peers. I’ve built some of my closest friendships through PT school, and I would be comfortable reaching out to any of my peers throughout my practice if I had a question or wanted insight, or just to stay in touch.

What advice would you give to an incoming PT student?

What makes Iowa’s physical therapy program so special is that it’s a wonderful teaching hospital, which is hard to beat. The faculty is absolutely amazing. It’s part of our curriculum to be a part of research, so as a student, you get a chance to help conduct research, analyze data, and present on the data. It’s a really cool experience, even if it’s something that you didn’t know you would be interested in.

When you get in the real world as a practicing physical therapist, it’s important to stay up-to-date and make sure your best practice is research-backed. So just having that experience of being part of a research team plays a big role in terms of just understanding and reading research.

What's next for you?

My wife and I are moving back to northeast Iowa, where we both grew up. I accepted a job with an outpatient clinic in Waverly, Iowa, by the name of Taylor Physical Therapy. I am excited to begin my career as a physical therapist in a wonderful community in rural Iowa.