I am frequently asked, “Why did you become a physical therapist?”
To be perfectly honest, I cannot say for certain why I chose this path, but without a doubt, I have found success, satisfaction and fulfillment in this 26 year journey. Reflecting back, it started when I was a junior in high school. My sister Karen advised, “You are good with people, you should be a nurse.” I was not interested in nursing, and although I did not have personal experience with physical therapy, it seem like a good direction to follow.
I was thrilled to be accepted by Simmons College (now University) into their six year master’s degree program. While a student, I learned that there were so many paths a physical therapist could follow. My internships included a chest PT rotation and rehabilitation hospital experience with outpatient pediatrics. During that affiliation, I worked with pediatric burns, amputations, various childhood neurological impairments and outpatient rehabilitation for TBI, as well in-patient with the “Young Stroke” population. But my final clinical rotation was where I found my passion: outpatient private practice, specializing in treatment of the spine and sports medicine.
Inspired by Martin Langaas, a PT specialist in York, Maine, I completed the Institute of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy and became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. I gained the necessary skills and confidence to provide high quality care, which allowed me to join my two great passions: PT and figure skating. As an injured figure skater, I wanted to prevent other young figure skaters from getting hurt. I merged my two skill-sets and began working with figure skaters at Colonial Figure Skating Club. I provided “rink side” injury prevention and strength and conditioning, as well as acute care and skilled physical therapy when needed. I began lecturing on injury prevention to the skating community.
After 14 years in the rink, I decided to return to outpatient physical therapy. In 2013, I joined Professional Physical Therapy (formerly known as ProEx PT) and took on new challenge, management. I continued to learn and grow, not only as a physical therapist but as a manager to physical therapists, athletic trainers, exercise technicians (aspiring to become PT’s), and front desk specialists. The communications skills I gained as a PT helped me lead my team. I had the pleasure of developing and promoting physical therapists to clinic directors, as well as front desk specialists onto corporate level positions.
I continued to grow and learn within the organization. I joined the Legal and Compliance Team and became Certified Healthcare Auditor though the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance. As a Compliance Specialist, I assisted with Internal Audit and Medical Necessity Reviews.
So, now knowing what I know now, the answer to the question “why did you become a physical therapist?”
While I have enjoyed so many opportunities throughout my many years of practice, there is nothing more satisfying than being a part of a patient journey back to pain-free function, health and well-being.