Feb 25 2013

Christiansen, Megan

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Professional Goal Statement

Following graduation and licensure, it is my aim to provide attentive, responsible, compassionate, and creative physical therapy care to those living in western North Carolina.  Though I hope to serve individuals of all ages and with a variety of diagnoses, I am particularly drawn to older adults, and the growing need for effective strategies to address geriatric fall risk and prevention.  I also believe in the need to reach out to under-served populations (language, financial, or mobility barriers, etc.) within my primary clinic, and the surrounding community, so as to increase public knowledge of and access to high-quality medically-necessary PT services.  I am committed to the pursuit of life-long learning and professional growth as necessary components of maintaining evidence-based practice throughout my career.  It is my desire to use my gifts, strengths, problem-solving skills, and growing body of experience to contribute to the success of the interdisciplinary team, as well as to assist colleagues and clients in achieving their personal best.


Career Plan

I will graduate with a DPT degree from UNC Chapel Hill in August 2013, then sit for the NC Licensure Exam in October 2013, thus allowing for 3 months to effectively review and synthesize the vast amount of information acquired during the 3-year graduate program.  As soon as I receive my license, I plan to start practicing in an outpatient setting where I will begin working towards specialty certification in geriatrics (GCS) and potentially orthopedics (OCS).  I will also continue to pursue specialty training in fall prevention and balance improvement through continuing education courses, and other learning opportunities.  Selection of additional C.E., learning opportunities, and pursuit of additional certifications such as wound care, and aquatic therapy will be largely dependent upon the needs of my clients (i.e. commonly reoccurring diagnoses), and available resources at my clinic (i.e. pool, wound care facilities).

As early as possible, I would like to find outlets for providing pro bono services in the community, perhaps at health fair events, screening clinics, and/or at a local shelter.  I also plan to become active with my local chapter of the NCPTA, and to remain a member of the APTA (including continuing membership in the geriatric and orthopedic chapters).

After working as a therapist for 1-3 years, I aim to complete the training required to become an APTA credentialed CI, after which I hope to mentor PT students from UNC and other programs as often as possible.  Over the next 5-10 years I will obtain GCS (and perhaps OCS) certification, and pursue certification for lymphedema management as well.  8-15 years into my career I plan to pursue additional specialty training in oncology, which may include some form of women’s health education.  Depending on the opportunities available, I would like to take on a part-time job serving patients with terminal illness, perhaps in a hospice setting, or in a nursing home.  I may also take a position as an adjunct professor or guest lecturer for one of the PT programs in NC as my career progresses, and/or following retirement from active clinical practice.


Self Assessment

Areas of Strength

  • Biology and Psychology background, pharmacy experience
  • Positive, open-minded, and flexible attitude
  • Willingness to identify and improve areas for professional development
  • Values good communication and teamwork
  • Problem-solving skills, creativity
  • Invested in patient well-being, establishes good rapport easily
  • Willing to do additional research outside of the clinic to enhance intervention
  • Able to read and interpret research literature
  • Enjoys learning and sharing acquired knowledge with others
  • Strong, detailed documentation
  • Already experienced and comfortable working with geriatric population

Areas for Professional Development

  • Time management within a session
  • Knowledge and use of special tests
  • Flow of examination
  • Some aspects of differential diagnosis
  • Limited clinical experience working with neurologic, and pediatric populations
  • Limited repetition working with various diagnoses = exposure but little experience
  • Knowledge of various insurance carriers and how to interact with them effectively
  • Delegating tasks efficiently to PT support staff
  • Limited experience communicating with MD about patient needs/progress
  • Skill in predicting prognosis is not yet well developed



  1. Review and synthesize information gathered during DPT program in preparation for practice as a licensed therapist
  2. Continue to enhance knowledge base for providing top-quality PT care to older adults
  3. Pursue specialty certifications in geriatric, orthopedic, and oncologic PT
  4. Seek opportunities to provide PT services and education in the community
  5. Volunteer to be a CI and/or mentor for future PT students


Specific Strategies

  • Sit for the NC Licensure Exam in October to allow for 3 months of review prior to beginning to practice
  • Review textbooks, study guides, and notes from DPT program, and complete Licensure Exam Review course
  • Remain an active member in the APTA (and chapters of interest including geriatric, orthopedic, etc.)
  • Become involved in local chapter of NCPTA after starting new job
  • Select C.E. courses, and other learning opportunities which will contribute to knowledge base concerning populations of interest (geriatrics, oncology, etc.) and strengthen areas for professional development
  • Continue to be honest and realistic in self-assessment of strengths and areas for development; actively seek feedback from clinic supervisor/mentor
  • Complete certification course to become credentialed CI


Product Examples from Courses, Electives, Rotation In-Services

In order to facilitate greater clinical knowledge in the areas of orthopedics and geriatrics, I selected “Advanced Orthopedic Assessment” and “Advanced Neuromuscular Intervention” (which contained a strong geriatric component) as my two third-year electives.  I feel that both have greatly enhanced my clinical skills and critical thinking.  Below are a few samples of work completed for various courses and during rotations.

  1. Musculoskeltal II Ulcer and MDT Case Study PPT:  During my first rotation, I worked with a patient who had an infected, non-healing ulcer which did not respond to conventional wound care.  As a result, his physician ordered a round of MDT (maggot debridement therapy), after which the wound was completely clean and began to heal rapidly.  This incident sparked my fascination with wound care, and culminated in a case study presentation after we returned to class.  My professor even allowed me to present my “creepy-crawly” lecture on Halloween!  I am now a firm believer in the merits of using MDT for non-healing wounds, and as a means to avoid amputation.
  2. Rotation In-Service Rotator Cuff Repairs PPT:  When deciding on an in-service subject during my rotations, I typically ask the PT staff if there are any topics they would like to know more about.  At one site, the staff unanimously requested rotator cuff repairs and protocols.  I designed a presentation detailing various kinds of repairs, including video clips and the pros/cons for each kind of surgery.  I then covered a general protocol for progressing therapy following a repair.  I feel that this particular presentation is very thorough, and the clinic staff agreed that it was very helpful.
  3. Evidence-Based Practice II Research Paper Dual-Task Training: The final result of this one-semester course was a detailed 9-page literature review comparing dual-task and single-task training as a means for improving balance in older adults.  I explore 8 current research articles on the topic, and discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and implications for the dual- vs. single-task debate.  The paper was by far one of the most intensive research projects I have ever completed, though extremely rewarding and with a very satisfying end product.  During the spring semester, I developed the themes of this paper into my final Capstone project.
  4. Advanced Neuro – Meniere’s Disease Paper & Outcome Measure Toolbox: I first heard about Meniere’s disease when it was briefly mentioned in an assignment for one of my second-year classes.  Since I was curious about the diagnosis, I used this assignment to learn more about it.  The paper is one of my best in terms of depth of research, as well as successful synthesis and presentation of my reading.  The toolbox is a collection of outcome measures I have selected to use in the evaluation of a patient with Meniere’s.  I put a great deal of time, and thought into this  project, and am very satisfied with the final products.  As a result of my research, I was also able to describe the condition to my CI when we encountered a patient in our caseload who demonstrated several symptoms consistent with Meniere’s disease.


Doctoral Capstone Project

After completing my EBP II research paper on dual-task training, I began to realize that attention-related fall risk (due to multitasking deficits) is a common contributing factor in fall risk among older adults.  Simultaneously I realized that despite numerous rotations working with older adults, I could not recall ever seeing or using a dual-task assessment tool to measure attention-related fall risk.  In an effort to bring this “dual-task condition” to the attention of practicing geriatric therapists, I decided to develop a continuing education module for UNC as my final Capstone project.  My design includes two voicethread lectures and a detailed handout which may be printed for clinical use.  The goal is to provide information along the entire continuum of the problem, beginning with an explanation of the cause at a functional level (intro), then progressing to clarification of how to “find and interpret” the issue (assessment), and finally, providing instruction for what to do about the problem if detected (intervention).  It is my goal to present the current dual-task literature in a manner that makes it more accessible and clinically relevant to working PTs, therefore increasing translation of evidence-based concepts into practice.

To access my Capstone page, click here.


Reflection Statement

Looking back on the past three years, I cannot help but marvel at how far I have come, and how the UNC program has changed me, both personally and professionally.  I remember talking with one of my professors during first semester following a less-than-perfect practical, and worrying that I would not be able to make it as a therapist.  Her advice to me – “Just trust us” – has carried me through many sleepless nights, and taxing periods in the program, and sure enough, here I am … 3 years later, carrying my own caseload on my last rotation, and mere months away from licensure.  Though I am continually aware of how much remains to be learned and polished, I am also beginning to recognize how much knowledge has already been acquired.  As a result, I now think of myself with greater confidence as a developing therapist, rather than simply as an overwhelmed student hoping to survive “level one” (Lisa, you were right!!).  I cannot thank the UNC faculty enough for their dedication to excellence, their patient encouragement, and for the way they continually refuse to let us stop believing in ourselves.  These 3 years have been the most difficult, exhausting, growth-inspiring, and rewarding of my life, and I have certainly developed a new appreciation for the importance of flexibility, open-mindedness, and the value of interdisciplinary teamwork.  As I prepare to transition from classroom to clinic, I am thankful for all of the individuals and experiences which have contributed to the foundation of my career.  I hope that someday I will be able to return the favor by mentoring other rising PTs and by describing my own experience to encourage them in those places where the learning curve feels steep.