Q: Before you were a therapist, you were a dancer. What led to your interest in physical therapy?
A: I started ballet when I was very young. I was fascinated by moving my own body and seeing what bodies could do. I was a science nerd in school and later, as an adult, I was always reading anatomy and physiology books while I was on the tour bus, so the transition to physical therapy was very natural for me. As I neared the end of my performing career, I was lucky enough to get accepted to Puget Sound’s physical therapy program. Now, I treat performing artists, so it really came full circle.
Q: You have a unique perspective as someone who’s both taught and been a student in Puget Sound’s physical therapy program. What changes have you seen since you returned here to teach?
A: When I was a student, we didn’t have the incredible facilities we have now, but we were still supported with a really solid education. Now, with the biomechanics lab and the expanded on-site clinic, our students learn from each other and interact with real patients in a safe environment. The structure we’ve built here is a great ladder to getting to a full-time internship, and what we hear is that our students are much more prepared than students from other programs. There's this enormous proliferation of physical therapy programs right now, but there aren’t many that have our small class sizes. Because of those small class sizes, we’re able to get to know our students really well and individualize their education. When there's a hundred people, it's nearly impossible for a faculty member to really learn and to get to know each student, so I’m proud of us for sticking with our model.
Q: What do you hope students take away from your classes?
A: I have a favorite quote that says, “A true master is not the one with the most students but the one who helps create the most masters.” I've tried to live by that as an educator. I want every single one of my students to go out there and be better than me. Come back and teach me something. Be a force for good in our profession, whether that is treating each individual patient with care and compassion, advocating on a policy level for public health, helping to make our profession more diverse and inclusive, serving marginalized populations—whatever that means to you, master it. Find your passion within PT and then give it your very best.
Q: You specialize in providing physical therapy to performing artists. Can you talk about your work in this area?
A: When I started clinical work, I knew I wanted to give back to the arts community. Having strapped on pointe shoes and endured 10-hour rehearsal days and performances every night of the week, I felt like I could contribute. Performing artists are really athletes, and it’s important for them to receive medical care from a provider who understands that. In my practice, I see dancers, but also musicians and circus artists, and I’ve learned that each patient has their own needs, so my care has to be tailored to their bodies, their minds, their spirits as artists. It’s a challenge to find the intervention that matches exactly what someone needs, but it’s also really gratifying, and that’s something I try to impart to my students, too.
Q: Tell me a bit about your life off campus.
A: Having spent so many years in a dance studio in a city, I love to be outside, which is why I love living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I have two rescue greyhounds, so we take them for walks; we go hiking, biking, climbing. I also want to do what I can to protect our environment. I have two stepdaughters, one of whom is going into environmental science, so she’s been a wonderful influence on me, inspiring me to volunteer my time to protect our Mother Earth for her and her sister.