Feb 25 2013

Dean, Donna

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Donna Dean DPT Portfolio

Professional Goal Statement

My professional goal is to become a physical therapist either in an inpatient rehabilitation setting with a focus on patients post-stroke or in an outpatient orthopedic clinic.  Regardless of the setting, I hope to continue to hone my skills in all of my areas of interest throughout my career.  I will become a Clinical Instructor to encourage students to see patients as a whole person and not just a diagnosis, reassuring their skills while urging them to always be learning.  I will continue to keep up with current evidence-based practice to ensure I am using the most effective interventions on all patient populations while placing myself in an environment that exemplifies teamwork.

Career Plan

I continue to be uncertain about the specific setting I would like to begin my career as a physical therapist.  I am also unaware as to where I will be living upon graduation as my fiancé recently graduated from UNC Law School and is currently searching for a job as well.  No matter what city we end up in, I hope to find a job working in an inpatient rehabilitation setting or a privately-owned outpatient orthopedic clinic.  Either setting will allow me to gain experience and learn from a mentor while in an optimal collaborative environment between all workers in the facility (or so I hope!).  I plan to work full time until I have a family and then plan to work part-time or PRN for a few years before returning to a full schedule.  I do not believe I will ever completely stop working as a PT because I am passionate about what we provide our patients and how we can make a difference.  The setting or patient population where I will find I can make the most difference and provide the best rehabilitation is yet to be seen.  I am interested in the majority of areas a PT can practice, and am hopeful that I will find my niche.  Eventually, I hope to become a professor in an accredited DPT program after at least 10-15 years of experience as a clinician while continuing to work in the clinic part-time, as many of our professors do at UNC.



  • Ability to build a quick rapport with patients from all different backgrounds and age groups
  • Passionate about becoming a clinician and advocating for the profession of physical therapy throughout my career
  • Life experience prior to PT school
  • Hard-working and never satisfied with mediocre results
  • Desire to practice and teach patient-centered care

Areas for Professional Development

  • Continue to increase skills in interpreting and implementing research literature
  • Increase knowledge in specific setting where I begin as a clinician
  • Increase skills in implementing and knowledge of functional assessments
  • Improve efficiency in documentation
  • Become more aware of changes in the health care system and insurance policies


  1. Develop clinical skills in evaluating and treating patients, determining proper progressions and discharge plans
  2. Maintain my desire to constantly learn new things, through reading the most up-to-date research and attending as many continuing education courses as possible
  3. Become a certified specialist to further enhance my knowledge and skills in a specific area
  4. Teach other students or new graduates as a mentor or Clinical Instructor throughout my career
  5. Determine if  I will eventually be interested in obtaining a PhD

Specific Strategies

  • Select elective courses during my third year that will enhance my knowledge of neuromuscular and orthopedic patients
  • Participate in volunteer activities to increase my skills with patients
  • Become a research assistant during my third to determine if research is something I wish to pursue
  • Form a study group during the fall and spring semester to prepare for the boards at the end of my third year
  • Identify a mentor who will encourage and challenge me daily

Product Samples

Advanced Orthopedic Elective:

This course was an incredible asset to my ever-growing knowledge of the orthopedic setting.  I have a better understanding of the healing process of different tissues throughout the body and best rehabilitation strategies to regain optimal function.  The paper that I completed during this course on the etiology, treatment, and prevention of hamstring strains can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Hamstring Strains

Health and Wellness:

During this course, I collaborated with Cassie Short to design a program that would improve the health and wellness of a specific community.  We explored office ergonomics due to the increasing prevalence of neck and back pain in the general working population, particularly those who work at a desk.  We chose to create a program that focused on decreasing musculoskeletal injury rates in local Chapel Hill businesses through the implementation of proper ergonomics.

Ergonomics 101

Doctoral Capstone Project:

For my capstone project, I chose to further investigate a concept I began in our Evidence-Based Practice II course.  This previous paper discussed whether a regimen of hip strengthening would be more effective than quadriceps strengthening in reducing pain for women with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).   EBP II paper  As I suspected and confirmed through research, it depends!  I broadened this topic by generalizing the population to either gender and all age groups, as well as adding orthotics and options for patellar malalignments as additional intervention strategies.  I presented this PowerPoint presentation to a group of PT faculty and students, also providing an assessment tool and examples of evidence-based interventions for possible causes of PFPS.

Reflective Statement

I feel incredibly fortunate to have determined that physical therapy was the perfect profession for me and that I was accepted into the UNC DPT program.  I have gained invaluable knowledge from the faculty at UNC and can only hope to become as compassionate and skilled as they are in the classroom and clinical setting.  I continue to keep a very open mind about where I will find myself upon graduation as I continue to struggle with which setting I will be most fulfilled and where my passion and skills will be able to grow. I do know that I will never feel as though my job is merely a way to make money, but instead a profession I feel lucky to be a part of every day that I enter the clinic.  My classmates have also been an amazing part of my journey and I feel confident that each one of them will be spectacular therapists.  We have all been provided with the knowledge to succeed and have the inherent vigor to make a difference in the lives of our patients.


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Dean, Donna”

  1.   Mike Grosson 24 Jun 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Donna- Very nice portfolio. You have done a great job with us not only in all of the required courses and projects, but also identifying goals you wanted to accomplish and then arranging experiences and opportunities to make it all happen. Best of luck down the road. Mike Gross


  2.   Lisa Johnstonon 27 Jun 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Nice job on your portfolio. I am really excited to see you having a long term goal to consider academics. You would do a great job in the classroom just like you will in the clinic. Thanks for all your hard work, and best of luck to you.


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