Apr 21 2014

Gerber, Debra

Published by


Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 9.17.22 PMDebra Gerber

Doctoral Portfolio

April 27, 2014

   I. Professional Goal Statement

    My professional goal is to provide quality, effective, and compassionate services utilizing current best evidence-based practice in physical therapy, that not only support the client/patient in health and fitness promotion but the PT practitioner as well.

II. Career Plan

    My career as a physical therapist has currently spanned 38 years and has provided, and continues to provide, a wide and ever-changing palette of experiences, This has included working at developmental centers, a hospital, and home health agencies. I participated in a consulting, monitoring, advocacy and training role in two court-ordered closings of large institutions in Florida and Oklahoma. I have provided PT services in intermediate care facilities, at several public schools, and, for the past 8 years, I have been a PT provider for a home-based early intervention infant-toddler program.  I have worked as an employee, and as an employer – for 5 years I was Vice-President of Therapeutic Concepts, Inc. which was based in Orlando and Tallahassee, FL (1987-1992). For the past 22 years, I have worked as a sole proprietor, providing contract and individual PT services. Along this journey, I have chosen continuing education from a varied menu of possibilities, including graduate courses in special education, the 8 week pediatric NDT certification course, Rolfing-Movement certification, and self awareness workshops and mentorship programs. <DG-Overview>

     I plan to continue my PT career for at least another 20 years, at which time I’ll be 80 years young! The completion of the tDPT program has been an important step to support this professional goal. To be truthful, I am not yet sure how this will manifest, and I will continue to explore options – suggestions are welcome!  I am fortunate that my current practice is steady, but am aware that the churn in health care, funding for  early intervention services, and budget cuts may influence my practice. It’s all part of the journey. My husband and I also plan to move in the next year or two, but when and where is still up in the air.  Uncertainty abounds, but the improvement of my skillset and credentials through the UNC tDPT program has given me greater confidence to respond to future changes and opportunities as they arise.

III. Self-Assessment

     I enjoy the exploration of both intellectual and psychological pursuits. Given that I came into this program with a BS degree, I am honored that I was among those chosen for the tDPT program in the pilot trial, and I worked extremely hard to continue to earn that honor!  The work was challenging and rewarding, and I’m also ready for a more restorative balance of work, family, recreation, and relaxation.

     My personality type on the Myers-Briggs leans to the INFP profile, so by nature I work best in more independent and non-traditional settings. I am driven to want to make a positive change in the world, and challenged with the tendency to self-criticize that it never quite good enough. The information and processes learned from the tDPT program has improved my quality of listening, questioning and assessing both internally and externally.

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” -Carl Sagan

    My proficiency with technology has improved through the online education process, and learning the processes for accessing, evaluating, storing and sharing resources has been an incredible gift of this program.

IV. Objectives

1. Provide quality physical therapy services for the children, family and caregivers in my current practice setting.

2. Explore health and wellness opportunities in the community.

3. Explore career options and opportunities through the APTA, networking, and other venues in anticipation of our eventual relocation.

V. Products

    I wanted to stay as current as possible in the pediatric field, and the Pediatrics course: Child/Family Assessment & Intervention did not disappoint. I enjoyed the Forum discussions, and found the smaller class size (8) allowed more opportunities to know each other more, even from afar! I researched Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) for the final assignment project in this course, and gained a greater appreciation for the need for continued assessment and medical follow-up over the course of a lifetime for individuals with NF1, the impressive information sources for continuing research and advocacy, and access to some helpful patient/family educational materials. <NF1 Report>

     Through the Health and Wellness Course, I learned some of the bones of developing a health and wellness proposal by applying it to a need I identified when working with families in the home-based setting – the lack of appropriate, inexpensive equipment to support gross motor development. <Sit Up & Take Notice Proposal>

     My work over the years has primarily had a neurological bent, and I found the Advanced Neuromuscular Elective stimulating. I chose to study pediatric abusive head trauma (AHT, which is more popularly known as ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’), and found many new studies and insights as a result of this course assignment. <AHT Report>   An association may exist between AHT and early infant crying behaviors, therefore  prevention strategies and education efforts may help teach parents and caregivers better coping skills. This spurred me to investigate infant crying behaviors in the context of emerging infant social emotional development. I chose to do a module for PT students on infant social emotional development in the PT Education Course, with a special focus on understanding and responding to early infant crying. Many thanks to Katie Ollendick, PT, DPT, PCS for allowing the inclusion of this one week module into her PHYT701 Motor Development and Human Movement Across the Lifespan course for 1st year DPT students. A PowerPoint presentation was provided as part of an online module, and can be viewed here: <Infant Crying & Interventions ppt>

     I wanted to venture into more unknown territory for my Evidence Based Practice II and capstone project, and chose to investigate the therapeutic effects of pole walking. In the course of this exploration, I found that the awareness of this intervention was little known at UNC, and equipment was sparse. I sought then to provide more education for PTs and PT students about the research and applications of pole walking in the adult population, and was able to develop a “pole walking legacy” at UNC through the donations of pole equipment from three manufacturers. (http://dptcapstone.web.unc.edu/). In addition, this project helped me to literally “walk my talk” by spurring me to add Nordic walking to my regular fitness program. Plans are also underway to offer a workshop on pole walking at the Smith Senior Center in Greensboro in the near future.

VI Reflection

“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”

                                                -Yann Martel, Life of Pi

     I am so proud – and relieved – to be a soon-to-be graduate of the UNC tDPT program – it has stretched my mind, a bit of my soul, and, when working on assignments in the middle of the night, a little of the space-time continuum as well. Many thanks go to the faculty for their support and feedback, to the tDPT and DPT students for their camaraderie and commiseration, and my dear husband, Wayne, for his endless encouragement and faith in me. (With the conclusion of this coursework, I’m mourning the end of his taking on the lion’s share of the cooking…..Maybe he won’t notice….).  I am now better equipped to continue this journey and to add more meaningful chapters to my story.

À votre santé!

dg photo



3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Gerber, Debra”

  1.   Karen McCullochon 06 May 2014 at 2:14 am

    Hello Debra,
    I love your portfolio, sprinkled with quotations that sum things up so nicely. You have done incredible work during the program – stretching and learning in many different ways, and always with such an upbeat approach to it all. I love the picture – I am headed out west with my son on Saturday and hope to be taking some pictures in very similar spots! Maybe I should try to borrow some Nordic walking poles to take along?
    Congratulations – you are DONE!!!!
    Celebrate it all!


  2.   Katieon 24 Jul 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment and I truly appreciate all your contributions that you have made over the past couple of years. Keep your wonderful outlook on life and stay in touch – whereever it may take you.


  3.   Laurie Rayon 29 Jul 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I love how you characterized your exploration of the evidence and infused it into your practice. It felt like a journey. I know your greater depth as a practitioner will benefit you and your patients. I hope you are able to influence your peers to challenge their practices and find the evidence.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply