Unlike her twin brother Ross, Mallory Johnston had no idea what career path she wanted to pursue, even after she had been accepted into college. She had applied as a business major, but right before she started as a freshman at University of Delaware (UD), a light bulb went off for Mallory. Her mother was undergoing physical therapy for an injury, and Mallory found herself growing increasingly curious about the process.
“I liked the idea of helping people in a conservative, non-invasive way without medication,” she said.
She made a quick decision to switch her major to exercise science - a program designed for students who might want to pursue careers as physician assistants, occupational and physical therapists, or even doctors and dentists - and by winter break, she was logging volunteer hours at Elite Physical Therapy.
That spring, Mallory shadowed a pediatric physical therapist who worked in an elementary school, and knew she wanted to continue on the path to physical therapy. The next summer, she volunteered at Wilmington Hospital’s acute rehabilitation unit, and continued to log hours volunteering and observing physical therapists in practice through her remaining undergraduate years.
She began applying to physical therapy graduate programs at the beginning of her senior year and was accepted to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She completed the USciences’ three-year doctor of physical therapy program in the spring of 2017, and passed her board exam to become a licensed physical therapist that summer.
Mallory landed her first job at an outpatient clinic in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, in September 2017, treating patients with general orthopedic conditions, along with post-operative patients who had undergone knee and shoulder replacements, and ACL and meniscus repairs. Last February, she took a new job in Moorestown at a larger outpatient clinic, and earned a certification in strength and conditioning.
“There is a lot of room for me to do something I’m interested in,” she said, adding that new opportunities to work in different specialties regularly pop up at her new clinic.
Now that she treats and interacts with patients on a daily basis, Mallory draws from the lessons she learned about relationships during her time at WMS. After graduating from WMS in sixth grade, Mallory attended Springer Middle School and Mount Pleasant High School, where she said her relationships and interactions with teachers differed significantly from those at WMS.
“I couldn’t tell you who my teachers were at Springer, and I remember exactly who I interacted with at Wilmington Montessori,” she said. “I don’t even remember a lot of my professors at UD. [At WMS] people are really invested in your future. Arlene [Wason] would check up on me years after I’d left.”
Mallory values the individual attention she received at WMS. That attention is something she wishes she could apply more in her physical therapy practice, where she juggles multiple patients an hour.
“I would love to work with patients [more] one-on-one,” she said. “People deserve that kind of attention.”