FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – In its second year, the University of British Columbia’s Master of Physical Therapy – North (MPT-N) program in Prince George is benefitting students and residents in the north.

For North Pine local and first-year student Kiana Cowger, the trip home from Prince George is much easier than when she attended the University of Victoria for her kinesiology degree.

“It’s definitely nice to be a bit closer to my family,” said Cowger, who just finished a particularly heavy week full of midterms. “We had four midterms over yesterday and today. The most challenging part is just the amount of content that we are given, and I wasn’t quite expecting that coming out of undergrad, even doing a kinesiology degree.”

The program covers a wide range of subjects, and Cowger says the first few weeks have touched on everything from musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, anatomy and what’s going on underneath it.

What she likes most about this program is the class size.

“I’m really enjoying all of it, especially with our cohort up here being only 20 people where the one in Vancouver is 80. Here, we’re able to get really close with each other. I would say within a week or two, it started feeling like a family, so having close friends has been really awesome to work through all of this with them.”

Cowger says each student gets a better understanding of the subject matter by working through the material together.

“There isn’t a person in my class that I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking a question to. That really helps to work through the material and get to the point of fully understanding. With a bigger class, maybe I’d have three or four people I was comfortable with, but up here, everybody is so supportive of one another and it’s making a really big difference.”

After she completes her 26-month program, Cowger will have the opportunity to specialize through different certificates or diplomas. In the meantime, she’s keeping busy and gaining valuable experience by helping out with the varsity teams at UNBC.

“We got the opportunity to be the athletic trainers for the UNBC varsity teams, We help out on the weekends when they’re at home games, and I travelled with the team for one weekend. I do that about once a week.”

Being on the sidelines isn’t new to Cowger though.

“I played competitive soccer throughout most of my schooling, then I transitioned into long-distance running and stuff like that. I have been into sports since I was little, so it’s a cool opportunity to see how a varsity team works and to be the athletic therapist.”

Cowger says the biggest misconception she’s picked up in the short time in class is the benefit of moderate physical activity.

“Even just walking for 30 minutes a day, as simple as that, the amount of benefits that can have for you and how much that can reduce the risk for all sorts of diseases and immobilities and injuries. I feel like that’s something that gets lost in translation somewhere.”

While it’s still too early to know where she’ll end up, Cowger says it’s going to be nice over the next two years to be a bit closer to home.

The MPT-N program was created with funding from the Province, delivered in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia.