Meet Dr. Elijah McMillan, an NYU PT alum who graduated with his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in 2020.
We connected with Elijah to learn more about his new role working as a staff physical therapist at NYU Langone Health and how he overcame the challenges presented by COVID-19.
How did you and your cohort remain positive and connected in the face of the pandemic?
We would do our best to make class sessions as interactive as possible and bring light and humor to the new virtual environment we were thrown into. Also, we would sporadically have Zoom parties where we could socialize, play games, and just enjoy each other's virtual presence. Most importantly, it helped that we were already a very close-knit class prior to the pandemic so it made the transition a whole lot easier.
What support did you have to help overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19?
The presence of my family and loved ones really helped me to get through the challenges of this new world we were in. Everyone who knows me knows that my family means everything to me, so to be quarantined with them as well as my girlfriend was truly a great relief. From an education standpoint, NYU and the faculty did the best they could to ease the hardships that came along with the pandemic to help us students get through, from faculty navigating the tricky roads of coordinating placements at clinical affiliations to NYU offering a COVID-19 relief fund during the height of the pandemic.
What did it feel like to graduate and enter a health-centric field during a global pandemic?
First and foremost, I was extremely grateful to have an employment opportunity at a time when seeking employment is challenging. However, it was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Nerve-racking because I heard all the stories of how it was to be an essential worker during these times, and now I’m about to be one and be a new grad. So it was an additional layer added to the new grad learning curve. Nevertheless, it was exciting because I love to be challenged, learn as much as I can, and grow so that I can be the best clinician that I can be.
Can you tell us about your current role at NYU Langone? What kinds of work are you doing?
I am a staff physical therapist and the main populations that I am treating are neuro (acute/ICU), orthopedic (acute/ICU), and patients with epilepsy. I am currently being trained to handle more complex patient presentations that are on an ICU level. My main objective for patients that I treat is to first understand them as a person, listen to them, and instill confidence in them that recovery is obtainable. Then I do my best to restore function as much as possible before a patient is discharged.
Is there a part of your academic and professional journey that you're most proud of?
Over the course of my whole academic career and professional journey, I am most proud of my ability to handle controversy in my personal life and still do my best to perform at a high level. I am a firm believer that an obstacle is not a stop sign but it is indeed a stepping stone and meant to be overcome. My ability to be laser-focused and pursue my goals through my academic and early professional career is something I am proud of when I step back and reflect.