Brothers Share Their LVC Physical Therapy Journeys

Josh and Danny Willey, Lebanon Valley College physical therapy graduates

Dr. Josh ’19, D’21 and Dr. Danny Willey ’15, D’17 are four years apart. However, both found themselves at LVC when looking for colleges with a great Physical Therapy Program. They are just one example of numerous siblings to graduate from the prestigious program.

Danny, the eldest, decided that LVC was right for him after searching for colleges that offered six years of schooling at the same location.

“LVC was one of only a few that offered students a seamless transition from the undergraduate program to the professional phase without requiring reapplication. I was also interested in playing ice hockey in college, so LVC checked all the boxes in my college search. I really enjoyed the small class sizes and tight-knit campus community. I was sold after my visit and couldn’t get my application in soon enough,” said Danny, who is now an assistant coach for LVC’s men’s ice hockey team.

While they never had a goal to attend the same school, Josh identified with many of the same factors that influenced his brother’s college choice.

“I heard about LVC through Danny and was drawn to the college for the ability to study physical therapy and participate in collegiate athletics,” said Josh, who played baseball for the Flying Dutchmen. “I was able to see first-hand that it was possible for a student-athlete to accomplish great achievements in sports and the classroom simultaneously. I also preferred the small-campus atmosphere and professors who genuinely cared about their students’ success.”

Having played sports from a young age, Danny knew relatively early on that he wanted to be in a field that combined athletics and medicine. The final push occurred when he discovered the role physical therapists played in aiding wounded veterans.

“While I originally considered athletic training, I realized I preferred to be involved in the rehabilitation process for not only athletes, but anyone who was dealing with aches and pains,” said Danny. “I began researching the profession and learned about the role of PTs in helping wounded veterans recover from battlefield traumas at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The more I learned about the field, the more I knew it was a great fit for me.”

Similarly, Josh was attracted to physical therapy because of his interest in science and service. He discovered his love of anatomy in high school and chose physical therapy for its application of anatomical principles. 

“Physical therapy is a profession where anatomical principles are applied for every patient to help identify their impairments and help them to reach their goals. We have the ability to help all patients of different cultures, ages, and abilities. It is a unique world with endless possibilities,” said Josh.

The brothers appreciated the rigor of LVC’s program as they pursue their careers and the next phase of life.

“As a student, I felt the need to be pushed if I was going to succeed and better myself. The faculty assured students that they would be prepared for the real world after graduation and they could not have been more spot-on,” said Danny. “There's a reason our program boasts such a great pass-rate on the national licensure exam. Our professors are well-versed in applying our education to real-world scenarios and patient cases, and they keep their curriculum up-to-date with the most current evidence-based practices. All our professors knew each student by name and gave us the tools to make the most of our time at LVC.”

Josh added, “Some of my favorite things about LVC’s PT Program are the amazing staff and hands-on learning experiences. They incorporate labs and other opportunities to reinforce concepts taught during lectures. Throughout the transition to learning virtually during COVID-19, each professor went out of their way to provide adequate opportunity for all students to ask questions and learn.” 

Danny currently works alongside several LVC alumni at Madden Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Dauphin, Pa.

“I really like helping patients get back to doing the things they love,” said Danny. “I have a passion for treating orthopedic and sports injuries, and I also enjoy working with post-surgical patients on their road to recovery.”

After graduating, Josh plans to work at a different Madden Physical Therapy clinic in Shrewsbury, Pa., that is directed by another LVC alum, Matthew Conroy ’12, D’14. Josh thanks his brother and everyone at LVC for their unwavering support during his journey.

“Danny was a great role model for me and taught me many important lessons along the way,” said Josh, who received his diploma from his brother at last week’s Commencement. “I was very fortunate to have supportive teammates, coaches, and classmates along the way.”

 

- Josh Hildebrand, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant