May 29 2014

Burpee, Jessica

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Profession Goal Statement

My goal is to practice with in a rehabilitation setting serving a large population of patients with neurological deficits and highly-involved orthopedic issues.  I would like to work in a practice in which therapists are treating patients as part of a interdisciplinary team that promotes patient-centered care along with current evidence-based practices to provide the most effective and proficient care possible.  I also hope to integrate my educational background in science and research into practice as a physical therapist by being involved in research studies that aim to explore and expand upon neurological conditions and clinical interventions.

Career Plan


  • Involvement in faculty research project geared towards a neurological population
  • Focus research to become applicable for capstone project
  • Completion of DPT coursework and degree
  • Sit for National PT Licensure Exam


  • Begin clinical practice in inpatient setting with availability for involvement in research and clinical trials
  • Explore areas in which further education/specialization is desired


  • Begin continuing education courses with a focus on treatments and therapies for neurological rehabilitation
  • Begin focusing practice towards gaining requirements for specialty certification
  • Pursue involvement in clinical research trails applicable to current patient population


  • Obtain specialty certification in neurological field
  • Be contributing author to journal article on research involvement



  • Prior experience in research, grant writing, and journal publications
  • Strong understanding of discerning quality evidence/research and efficiency in navigating journal article databases
  • Effective communication skills
  • Drive to continue professional development via specialization certificates and continuing education

Areas for professional development

  • Need to gain more knowledge on current evidence-based intervention strategies for neurological patients
  • Need to gain more experience evaluating, assessing, and treating highly-involved neurological patients
  • Need to gain more knowledge on choosing appropriate DME for highly-involved patients and reimbursement/funding for DME


During my third year in the DPT program I completed a research elective under the advisement of Mike Lewek exploring the biomechanics of trips that occur during ambulation in post-stroke individuals.  I had the opportunity to present the preliminary findings of my research at the Human Movement Science Research Symposium at UNC.  I also incorporated the research I performed into my capstone project and completed a manuscript that is currently being prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Reflective Statement

The question I have been asked most often over the past three years is “How to you go from pursuing a career in marine biology to wanting to become a physical therapist?”  Although the answers I have given to this question have been varied, the decision I made to become a PT has been consistently reinforced throughout my time at UNC.  The opportunities I have been given to explore and immerse myself in the multifaceted elements that compose profession of physical therapy have been boundless.  From nervously deciphering the nerves of the brachial plexus in anatomy lab to practicing aquatic therapy in Guatemala, I have learned an invaluable amount of information about the human body, the human psyche, and most importantly, about myself.  Every class and clinical experience has left me with a desire to know more and drive to experience more.  My journey to become a physical therapist is, in a way, just beginning, and I am very excited to see what the road ahead will bring.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Burpee, Jessica”

  1.   Vicki Merceron 02 Jul 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Jessica,
    So glad that PT won out over marine biology… it has been a joy to see you learn and grow throughout your time in the program. I know you are going to do great things in PT! Given that you and I share many interests (neuro, clinical research, underserved populations), I hope that you won’t hesitate to contact me – even if its just to chat.

    Keep in touch!


  2.   Michael Lewekon 03 Jul 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Well done on all accounts. I have no doubts you will continue to be successful in all that you do. It was a pleasure to work so closely with you this past year as you did a wonderful research project and excellent capstone. I look forward to publishing the results of that study with you, and hope that you won’t be a stranger around here.
    Talk to you soon.


  3.   Carla Hillon 12 Jul 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I only knew you briefly during your time at UNC but was impressed with your work ethic. It was a pleasure to have you as an ICE student. Even though ortho put you outside your comfort zone, you were consistently inquisitive and insightful, 2 characteristics that will serve you well in your PT career. Best of luck!


  4.   Lisa Johnstonon 24 Jul 2014 at 1:06 am


    Great job on the portfolio. It was truly a pleasure to have you with us the past 3 years. I’m glad you gave up the taxidermy!



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