Mar 18 2015

Hamilton, Dale

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Professional Goal Statement
My goal is to become a board certified physical therapist that will work as a part of an interdisciplinary team of individuals, who, together, treat individuals in the geriatric population with a variety of functional impairments while employing evidence based interventions to help these individuals live the highest quality of life.

Career Plan
After completing my DPT in 2015, I hope to attain a PhD in Physical Therapy in order to contribute to furthering the profession as well as train new physical therapists in my specialty area. Below is a tentative outline for my career plan for the next 10 years:


  • Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with a doctorate in physical therapy.
  • Take the national physical therapy exam (NPTE) for PTs.
  • Begin my career with a job as an entry-level physical therapist working with the geriatric population under a mentor to develop my skills as a young physical therapist.

2016 – 2018

2018 – 2020

  • Enroll in UM-Flint’s PhD in Physical Therapy Program


  • Graduate with a PhD in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan – Flint
  • Upon graduation, sit certification exam to become a Geriatric Certified Specialist (GCS) or Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS).

2025 and Beyond

  • Maintain APTA membership
  • Attend a minimum of 2 annually continuing education classes with the specific goal of developing my skills to help me better serve the geriatric population
  • Become an APTA certified clinical instructor in order to train new physical therapists
  • Participate in clinical research studies to add to the body of literature of geriatric physical therapy


  • Several years of experience working with the geriatric population
  • Advance knowledge of the many different factors affecting the geriatric population and how healthcare is delivered to this population
  • Experience working on and communicating with an interdisciplinary team of individuals


  • Limited clinical experience
  • Confidence – Being soft spoken comes off as not being confident. This often makes it difficult to establish rapport with patients when first meeting them.
  • Limited knowledge of the rules of Medicare and other insurance companies as they relate to different types of facilities


  • Obtain a PhD in Physical Therapy within 10 years of completing my DPT, as well as become board certified specialist in one of two interest areas after completing my PhD.
  • Obtain a position as a physical therapist on an interdisciplinary team that meet the rehabilitation needs of the geriatric population.

Specific Strategies for addressing your development needs and interests.

  • Review requirements and register for sitting the NPTE
  • Identify a mentor that I wish to work with and to learn from upon graduation and passing the NPTE
  • Work under the mentorship of an esteemed geriatric physical therapist in order to further develop my clinical skills
  • Continue to work on my confidence in order to be able to better establish rapport with patients

Elective Courses

Over the past three years, I have taken classes beyond what is required to obtain the DPT in order to augment my education in areas of interest. I have taken seven (7) elective courses under three different focus areas in order to achieve this goal.

Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Trip
These interdisciplinary courses explore healthcare in the global context and the determinants of health in vulnerable US populations with a particular focus on rural North Carolina. The culmination of these classes is a trip over spring break to Tyrrell County, NC, where under the supervision of faculty, students plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion as well as other activities.

  • NURS 609 Health Care in The Global Context
  • PUBH 805 Public Health in The Global Context

Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE)
This course allows students to participate in direct patient care during the third year of the program to help improve the student’s clinical skills. This experience allowed me to perform new patient examinations, provide patient intervention services and document the care provided in coordination with and under the direct supervision of a licensed faculty mentor in the orthopedic setting.

  • PHYT 870 Integrated Clinical Experience

Certificate in Aging Courses
One of the main reason I liked the physical therapy program at UNC is the Certificate in Aging. Having had an interest in the geriatric population since working at a nursing home, this program caught my attention while applying to physical therapy schools. I like the interdisciplinary aspect of it and after my first year at UNC, I applied to the certificate program and was accepted with Dr. Carol Giuliani as my mentor.

The courses I took as a part of the certificate program focused on strategies to employ when treating older adults and their families while taking into consideration the normal process of aging, common illness and diseases, functional problems, as well as common challenges associated with aging. They also examine the dynamic continuum of long-term care, family and institutional care-giving, medication-use, healthcare policies, and major contextual factors such as culture, ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geography, and how these differences influence the delivery and utilization of healthcare services among older adults in the United States. Additionally, I am in the process of completing an independent study evaluating different community based falls prevention programs for older adults. The courses include:

  • SOWO 604I – Health and Aging
  • SOWO 843 – Older Adults: Theory and Practice
  • HPM 522 – Aging, Family and Long-Term Care: Cultural, Ethnic and Racial Issues
  • PHYT 800 – Independent Study (Community-Based falls prevention programs)
  • Seminar in Aging – This was a two consecutive semester seminar, guided by faculty in the Certificate In Aging Program, which provided participants an interdisciplinary forum for exploring a variety of current issues in aging.

Clinical Rotations

  • Outpatient Rehabilitation – Granville Medical Rehab, Oxford, NC
  • Geriatric/Neuro Rehabilitation – Carol Woods, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Acute Care Physical Therapy – Stanly Regional Medical Center, Albemarle, NC
  • Inpatient Neuro Rehabilitation – CarePartners Rehab Hospital, Asheville, NC

Capstone Project
My capstone project is still underdevelopment. Consequently, I have not posted any files related to the project itself.

The intent of my capstone is to educate distance runners of the known etiologies of patellofemoral pain as well as possible interventions for the modifiable risk factors for the condition. This came about due to my personal experience with patellofemoral knee pain, and an interest to learn more about the condition as well as treatments interventions. I have selected Mike Gross as a mentor for this project.

In preparation of my capstone project, in the fall of 2014 during my Evidence-Based Practice II course (EBP II), I started to explore the topic of PFPS where I developed a clinical question around finding evidence-based physical therapy interventions for the condition. For my Critically Appraised Topic (CAT), I explored the efficacy of foot orthotics vs. hip strengthening exercises in the management of PFPS. A copy of my final CAT can be seen here.

Project Development & Products
In the spring of 2014 during my Physical Therapy for Older Adults course (PHYT 736) I developed a resource guide for older adults in the geographic area that I intend to work after graduation. It includes a list of services available for senior citizens, as well as medical specialists in and around Catawba County, NC. A copy can bee seen here.

During the spring of 2015, while taking Older Adults: Theory and Practice (SOWO 843) I collaborated with students in the school of Social Work and School of Pharmacy to deepen our understanding of elder abuse, the different forms of elder abuse, as well as resources that are available for older adults who may be victims of elder abuse. A copy of the presentation can be seen here.

The past three years have been filled with many learning experiences that have led to significant personal and professional growth in many areas of my life. Throughout the program, I experienced a number of personal setbacks, which I overcame with the assistance and advice from compassionate faculty members, whom I cannot thank enough for their dedication to students in the DPT program at UNC.

Upon embarking on the task of a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I had an idea of the area of specialty that I wanted to pursue, which was geriatrics. Having very little exposure to neuro physical therapy, I requested to be paired with a clinician who worked in that area when it came time to participate in the first year mentoring program. This became a new area of interest, after which, I learned that I could “marry” these two interests – geriatrics and neuro.

I am currently about half way through my last clinical in the inpatient neuro rehab setting, and I absolutely love it. This setting is perfect for the “marriage” of geriatric and neuro physical therapy as it presents a challenge for me that I enjoy, while helping individuals to overcome their physical limitations to return to living the highest quality of life.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Hamilton, Dale”

  1.   Vicki Merceron 05 Jun 2015 at 1:41 am

    Way to go Dale! Thanks for your thoughtful reflection.



  2.   Lisa Johnstonon 05 Jun 2015 at 2:20 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your reflections and your many achievements. I know it has not always been easy, but your hard work shows. Thanks and good luck!


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