Feb 25 2013

Tooher, Jennifer

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Professional Goal Statement:

My goal is to start my professional career working as a physical therapist in a hospital or outpatient setting. I plan to work with a variety of patient populations, especially neurologic patients, in order to help individuals increase their functional abilities and maximize their participation in the environment. I want to work in a clinical setting that promotes evidence-based practice, comprehensive care, and teamwork. My long-term goals include being on faculty for a DPT program. Continually taking advantage of opportunities to serve in a leadership role will give me the ability to more closely participate in administrative and multidisciplinary roles.

Career Plan:

Self Assessment:

Strengths Areas for Professional Development

Communication skills

Commitment to career and promotion of physical therapy

Documentation skills

Leadership experience

Compassion for others: patients/staff

Experience teaching college students

Knowledge of MS diagnosis & treatment

Ability to speak Spanish conversationally

Willingness to think critically in clinical capacity

Insurance regulations and billing considerations

Clinical experience

Comprehensive knowledge of neurologic and orthopedic PT

Connections with professionals to build network

Lectures at the Graduate Level

More in depth understanding of neuroanatomy

Working knowledge of health care system and all potential referral sources


  1. Develop clinical knowledge and skills that ensure thorough and individualized evaluations, assessments, and treatment interventions for patients with neuromuscular conditions.
  2. Gain hands on experience with university & teaching activities through research experience and collaboration with DPT programs and affiliated organizations.
  3. Apply knowledge from classroom, clinical experiences, and continuing education in order to prepare and sit for the MSCS, Vestibular Certification, and NCS exams.
  4. Work as a physical therapist in North Carolina with patients who have neuromuscular diagnoses.

Specific Strategies:

  • Enroll in course electives that provide me with additional opportunities to improve my knowledge and application of research regarding physical therapy for the neurologic population.
  • Participate in a final clinical rotation that offers well-rounded experiences to enhance the breadth and depth of my exposure to different patients.
  • Maintain professional relationships with PT mentors that I’ve been fortunate to work with and get to know in order to maximize my opportunities for learning.
  • Engage in additional continuing education courses online and at conferences to improve my expertise in managing the needs of individuals with MS, vestibular dysfunction, and other neuromuscular conditions.
  • Participate in a research project with UNC professor, Mike Lewek, to gain exposure to writing IRBs and learning the specifics about developing and implementing a research project.
  • Utilize my capstone project to combine my interests in teaching and neuromuscular diagnoses to create a continuing education course for other physical therapists and PT students.
  • Use patient situations during clinical rotations to improve clinical experience and reasoning during patient interventions and evaluations.
  • Prepare and present posters and in-services related to physical therapy- such as CSM and CMSC poster presentations, UNC Grand Rounds, and Free From Falls- for patients with neuromuscular diagnoses.
  • Utilize my time in Chapel Hill to develop relationships with physical therapists in order to interview and have good job opportunities upon graduation.

Product Samples:

For my Doctoral Capstone Project, I collaborated with Liz Waddell to develop a continuing education course for physical therapists. The course consists of a series of six Powerpoint videos that take just under 60 minutes to view. The modules include an introduction to MS, PT examination for MS, and videos that discuss interventions to address weakness, spasticity, balance, and gait impairments that are common in MS. The course can be viewed for free by clicking here. We also worked with AHEConnect so that physical therapists can receive CEU credit for viewing the modules. The cost of taking this course is $10, and you can access it here. We will present a poster on this project at the 5th Annual CMSC/ACTRIMS meeting in Orlando, FL on May 30, 2013.

One reason I really enjoy working with patients who have neuromuscular diagnoses is that many of these patients have impaired gait and/or balance. Finding interventions that maximize an individual’s functional abilities in such a fundamental way has been one of my main interests in PT school. In our Evidence Based Practice II course, I chose to focus on how progressive resistance training influences gait speed and endurance in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Feel free to view my¬†evidence table and the summary of recommendations.

In our Health and Wellness course, we were asked to design a wellness program that would benefit a specific community. Since there has been a lot of PR regarding return-to-play requirements for concussion, I collaborated with Liz Waddell to develop a concussion prevention education program for middle school youth in Orange county, NC. The program was named Move aHead NC.

I took the Advanced Orthopedic Elective to continue to explore the interaction between orthopedic and neurologic PT. On my clinical rotations, I’ve noticed that I’ve been drawn towards patients who have cervical, thoracic, and lumbar pain. In order to better understand the mechanics of the diagnoses that can cause radicular pain from the back, I chose to write a paper on the pathophysiology of cervical radiculopathy.

In order to better understand my knowledge of vestibular pathology and physical therapy interventions, I chose to focus on unilateral vestibular hypofunction in the Advanced Neuromuscular Elective. The UVH paper I wrote discussed the epidemiology, APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice Patterns, pathophysiology, effects on systems, resultant impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, environmental/personal factors that can contribute to prognosis, and evidence-based PT interventions. I also created a UVH Toolbox of outcome measures to help physical therapists understand appropriate tests and measures to use when working with individuals with UVH.


Being at UNC for my DPT has been an invaluable experience, and I feel ready and excited to begin working as a physical therapist. When I first started PT school in the fall of 2010, I had no idea just how much I was going to learn: about working with patients, understanding the human body, physical therapy as a profession, and the health care system in general. The last 3 years have been full of classes taught by great professors, late nights studying, clinical rotations that have helped me grow, and plenty of laughs along the way with my classmates.

The DPT program at UNC brings coursework to life with opportunities to interact with patients and clinicians throughout the curriculum. I feel so fortunate to have learned alongside my amazing classmates, who I’m confident will all do great things in their professional careers. As graduation approaches, I feel equipped with the knowledge and skills to be a strong physical therapist, to promote current evidence-based practice, and to pursue leadership opportunities into the future of my career. UNC DPT ’13- you know!


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Tooher, Jennifer”

  1.   Mike McMorrison 24 Jun 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Congratulations on your accomplishments these past 3-years and of course on your upcoming graduation. Despite your super busy schedule, in the 2nd year you volunteered time to help develop teaching videos for MSK 1 — thank you. UNC eDPT students will benefit from your work for years to come.
    All the best to you and your future pursuits,
    mike m


  2.   Lisa Johnstonon 27 Jun 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Congrats on all your accomplishments. You have done a lot and the MS program in particular is better as a result of your work Congrats and thanks for your dedication. Please stay connected. Good luck


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