College + community = careers
The path to Preston Sloan’s professional career started at Medicine Hat College (MHC) and has since come full circle.
It all began with an anatomy class.
Sloan enrolled at MHC with plans to become a math teacher, but after taking anatomy with Lori Sumners, he fell in love with learning about the human body and switched his focus to kinesiology. From examining the complexities of the body’s systems to understanding how they function and interact, the study of kinesiology uncovers it all.
“Kinesiology is very hands on. It deals with movement and functional activities – things we experience every day. In our anatomy and physiology labs, we had the opportunity to delve into the body. You can actually feel the muscles working in the ways that you're learning about and that experience makes the information more meaningful,” he explains.
After completing two years of university studies at the college, Sloan transferred to the University of Alberta where he earned a Masters in Physical Therapy. While his university experience helped him obtain his professional designation, he believes the connections he made with instructors and classmates at MHC were more influential to his academic career.
“The campus environment at MHC is so positive and everyone makes an effort to create the best learning opportunities they can for students. Because the class sizes were small, you knew each other, you helped each other, you rooted for each other. And it wasn’t only the students. I had great instructors who I have kept in contact with over the years,” says Sloan, who credits Sumners and Alannah Maurer with shaping his career path.
Those connections to the college and to his hometown brought Sloan back to Medicine Hat in 2016 where he now has a successful career as a physiotherapist - and a part-time anatomy teacher at MHC.
“I definitely have a connection to where I'm from and I hold that close. It's part of who I am. Going to college where I grew up and having that familiarity has given me these career opportunities. If I hadn’t stayed here, I wouldn't have made connections with professionals in Medicine Hat, whether at the college or in the community through volunteer experience.”
As a physiotherapist, Sloan enjoys helping people. Whether he’s doing assessments, guiding rehabilitation or encouraging patients to reach their goals, his reward is seeing an increase in their mobility and quality of life. As an instructor at MHC his impact is much the same - helping students reach their goals by preparing them to build fulfilling careers.
He believes the combination of his work in the clinic and in the classroom is mutually beneficial.
“I’ll see something at the clinic that correlates directly to what I’m talking about with the class. It makes the concepts real for students to hear stories of things I was doing earlier that day and helps them see the practical side of what they are learning. Returning to the basics with teaching has helped me in my clinical work as well, reminding me of specifics that I had maybe forgotten over the years.”
After being on both sides of the college experience, Sloan shares advice that he received from his MHC instructors. Doing research on programs and potential schools early on is extremely important, as is understanding entry requirements and the benefits of volunteer experience. He adds that job shadowing can really open your eyes to the reality of the career and provide insight into whether or not the field is the right fit.
While many people with a kinesiology background pursue careers in physiotherapy or chiropractic, Sloan emphasizes this area can open doors to numerous possibilities. Medicine, dentistry, medical sales – even coaching and wellness careers – can all start with kinesiology.
“It can be a good stepping stone towards other opportunities,” says Sloan. “Taking that anatomy class at Medicine Hat College was a turning point for my career.”
Want to learn more about kinesiology and where it can take you? Click here for university studies information at MHC.