Feb 25 2013

Lawler, Natalie

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Natalie Lawler, SPT

UNC-Chapel Hill

Professional Goal Statement

My goal is to work with and address the needs of patients with neuromuscular impairments in an inpatient or acute care facility in Western North Carolina. I will strive to provide up-to-date evidence based practice with all of my patients.

Career Plan

·      Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with DPT in August 2013

·      Pass Board Exam and attain license in 2013

·      Gain employment in neuromuscular PT setting in the Asheville area.

Self Assessment


  • Passion for the neuromuscular population
  • Inpatient rehabilitation clinical rotations (20 weeks total)
  • International experience in Antigua, Guatemala in residential hospital
  • Knowledge of hands-on interventions with patients from this population
  • Experience working specifically with CVA, ABI, and SCI patients
  • Positive rapport with patients
  • Use of evidence-based practice


Areas for Professional Development:

  • Knowledge and experience with the Spanish language to increase cultural competence and patient-therapist communication
  • Exposure to areas of neurological care such as in pediatrics


  1. Increase clinical exposure to neurological patients through a mentoring program with a neurological specialist.
  2. Develop professional relationship with clinics/rehabilitation hospitals in the Asheville area that cater specifically to a neuromuscular population
  3. Develop a doctoral project that involves neurological diagnoses and patients.
  4. Pass the NPTE exam to gain licensure.


Specific Strategies

  • Network through my contacts at Care Partners Rehabilitation to find a well suited job to begin my career
  • Become more active within the APTA to increase my professional development opportunities.
  • Attend annual CSM meetings when plausible to attend lectures to further my clinical and research knowledge

Health and Wellness

In this course I developed a health proposal plan for increasing health literacy in minority populations. More specifically I focused on youth health literacy and educating high school students on the risk factors and consequences for CVA. I drafted a plan to create a documentary and discussion assembly to present to high school students in Durham, NC.

Neuromuscular Elective

I decided to take this elective course to gain a deeper understanding for a wide variety of neurological diagnoses. I delved more deeply into the diagnoses of stroke and traumatic brain injury in my assignments, as those are particular areas of interest. I gained new knowledge on the specific pathophysiological processes that occur in these diagnoses and ways that physical therapy works to compensate and recreate neuroplastic changes.


Orthopaedics Elective

I chose to take this elective to better understand the underlying tissue changes that occur in musculoskeletal injury. I became familiar with the changes from a biomechanical and cellular level, helping me to understand the larger picture and reason behind certain treatment techniques. I completed a research paper on the common pathologies associated with the glenohumeral joint, and the evidence based surgical and non-surgical treatments.

Doctoral Project

For my doctoral project I created an in-service presentation for an inpatient rehabilitation facility in which I would be completing my final clinical rotation. The in-service involves the reduction of falls in older adults with stroke. I also created a patient education handout, which will be given to the facility for use. I chose patients with stroke as a population of interest because falls occur more frequently in this population as compared to the general population of older adults. Falls can bring detriment to any rehabilitation plan, and the safety of the patient is always a priority to consider.


UNC PT Outreach Trip to Guatemala

This trip gave me the opportunity to expand my cultural competence to Spanish-speaking communities in and around Antigua, Guatemala. I worked with patients of all ages in Las Obras Hospital, a residential hospital for individuals with disabilities. I also participated in a health fair, teaching individuals about proper body mechanics and back protection for daily tasks. This experience helped broaden my perspective on healthcare issues in third world countries. Though access to healthcare and technology is so limited, healthcare workers use the resources they have improve conditions, as they are able.

Reflection Statement

This journey has been an amazing one. I feel so lucky to have had the experiences and opportunities I have been given through this program. The friendships and professional relationships I have made along the way have been invaluable, and I have had the opportunity to learn from each of my classmates and professors in a unique way. I am extremely excited to begin this career I have sought after since high school.  Though it has been a long road, I wouldn’t take back a second of it, as I have grown professionally and personally throughout the process. Something I can take away from this experience is that physical therapy is a constantly changing field, and learning is a lifelong responsibility as a healthcare professional. I look forward to continuing my education throughout my career and improving the lives of those I treat.


One response so far

One Response to “Lawler, Natalie”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 27 Jun 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Nice job on your portfolio. It is nice see your many accomplishments in the program. I enjoyed working with you during Guatemala trip. Congrats on everything.



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