Mar 18 2015

van der Horst, Sarah

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Professional Goal Statement

I plan to be an expert in orthopedic physical therapy, ensuring quality care for all of our community members, whether they are insured or not.

Career Plan

2010: BA in Biology, Oberlin College

2010-2012: Language and Culture instructor in Spain; gained Spanish fluency

2012-2015: Doctorate of Physical Therapy, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

2013-2014: Interdisciplinary Director of Physical Therapy at Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC)

2013-present: Founder and Director of Amigas en Salud

By 2015: Start a job in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy/gain admission to UNC residency program.

By 2017: Obtain OCSC, if qualified.

By 2017: Begin work as a Clinical Instructor.

By 2030: Work as an adjunct faculty member for a DPT program.

**I want to work for UNC outpatient orthopedics for its excellence, investment in the underserved community through Charity Care, the vast array of patients seen, and the interdisciplinary relationship possible. In addition to my work in outpatient orthopedics, I will volunteer at health fairs, support SHAC, and continue to direct Amigas en Salud, ensuring its sustainability in both Chapel Hill and Durham.

Self Assessment: Strengths

  • Empathy and ability to connect with my patients. I am able to make patient’s feel at ease and willing to share their story with me so that I can provide patient centered care. It also allows me to be a great advocate for them.
  • Experience in a variety of outpatient orthopedic physical therapy setting with excellent mentorship by experts in the field.
  • General knowledge of insurance and billing.
  • Experience working with children both in the home health setting and in a Constraint Induced Movement Therapy Camp.
  • Experience in founding and directing a wellness program, Amigas en Salud, for Latinas. Through this experience I have acquired skills in executing a business plan, applying for scholarships and grants to fund the program, directing a team of volunteers, assessing community needs, critically evaluating a community program, seeking out expansion opportunities, managing finances, providing childcare, making community connections to benefit the participants, and more.
  • Spanish fluency.
  • Experience as an educator: teacher in Spain for two years, Pilates TA at Oberlin College, Astronomy tutor at Oberlin College, Differential Diagnosis TA, and Musculoskeletal I TA.
  • Eagerness to provide the best possible care for each of my patients by learning from physical therapy and public health experts, listening to the patient, and advocating for them.

Self Assessment: Areas for Further Development

  • Further experience in outpatient orthopedic Physical Therapy to perfect assessment and treatment skills especially as they relate to the spine, shoulder, and temporomandibular joint.
  • Gathering a larger variety of treatment ideas through experience working with a multitude of Physical Therapists and investigating different modes of therapy treatment, such as Pilates, yoga, biofeedback, etc.
  • Further experience in organizing, evaluating and leading wellness programs.
  • Continued practice speaking in Spanish through time spent in the Spanish speaking community in the triangle and abroad.
  • Developing and maintaining a complete understanding of the Latino community’s needs.
  • Staying current on Evidence Based Physical Therapy through journal clubs and electronic data base searches.


  • Prepare and sit for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy Exam on July 22, 2015.
  • Enhance clinical skills and experience by working with established Physical Therapists in the area and regularly volunteering at SHAC.
  • Continue to direct Amigas en Salud in Chapel Hill and Durham, focusing on empowerment the group members to take leadership roles within the organization and community.
  • Continue to understand my limits and seek to make them my strengths through Continuing Education courses and mentorship from peers and established Physical Therapists.
  • Attend an orthopedic residency program and sit for the OCSC.

Specific Strategies

  • Research evidence based treatments for each patient I see.
  • Take full advantage of the experts I have readily available to me through UNC’s Physical Therapy program by shadowing and having one on one meetings.
  • Continue to establish myself as a member, leader and educator in the triangle through volunteering at health fairs, attending Latino Health Coalition meetings, volunteering at SHAC, providing resources to the Latino community through Amigas en Salud in Chapel Hill and Durham,
  • Start/participate in a journal club in my place of practice.
  • Apply for the UNC Orthopedic Residency program.

Electives and Capstone

  • Integrated Clinical Experience: I delved deeper into manual therapies with Mike McMorris. I honed my observation and clinical examination skills for the lower extremity while learning how to make orthoses with Mike Gross. I learned innovative interventions from Jennifer Cooke and how to recognize that a patient that has come in with whiplash-associated disorder and a prior diagnosis of epilepsy should be treated as a neurological patient and not just a musculoskeletal one.
  • Advanced Orthopedic Assessment and Intervention: My understanding of the various tissues and conditions that I may be presented with was greatly advanced by this course. I was able to further hone my skills of using databases for evidence based treatment ideas that I am now able to use today when treating patients. During this course I investigated and wrote a paper on the Diagnosis and treatment of anterior hip pain in a physical therapy clinic.
  • Evidence Based Practice II: In the Evidence Based Practice II course, I was given the opportunity to develop a PICO question that was tailored to benefit Amigas en Salud: What are the health benefits of a community based exercise and health education program for underserved Latinas? The information gathered from this research was compiled into a Critically Appraised Topic. This information will help the directors, participants, and future investors understand the importance of wellness programs similar to Amigas en Salud.
  • Topics in Health Promotion and Wellness course: I had the opportunity to develop a program proposal for the expansion of Amigas en Salud to Durham. The proposal included a statement of need, background, and program description. This assisted in the development of the Durham branch. During this course, I also learned about evaluation methods. I was then able to put this information into practice when I held a focus group and performed a process evaluation of the program. From the information gained, Amigas en Salud has additional tools to better serve the community.
  • Capstone: For my capstone I focused my efforts to benefit Amigas en Salud. Amigas en Salud is a social cognitive and culturally tailored exercise and health awareness program for Latinas in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. Amigas en Salud of Chapel Hill was founded in May 2013 as one of the first Latina exercise and health awareness programs in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill area. The organization is based on assessment of community needs and consists of four main components: Zumba, free childcare, promotion of health literacy through bi-monthly tutorials, and access to resources in the community. Amigas en Salud then launched a Durham branch on October 11, 2014 using the same model. The Durham branch was founded in collaboration with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Durham and Duke Pediatric Mental Health Initiative. The wellness program is possible due to the network of outreach and education organizations in the Triangle that have offered their services to better the participants of Amigas en Salud. In order to summarize Amigas en Salud for all those involved with or interested in the program and for future sources of funding, I compiled a comprehensive Amigas en Salud document, that included the following components:
  1. Mission Statement
  2. Statement of Need
  3. Evidence-Based Framework
  4. Program Components, History, and Future
  5. Financial Analysis
  6. Evaluation Methods and Results
  7. Program Improvement
  8. Possibility of Expansion

Reflective Statement

My gratitude towards the faculty, the program, and the opportunities UNC has afforded me knows no bounds. I have been challenged and taken outside of my comfort zone, and as a result, I leave this program surprised and proud of the soon to be physical therapist I have become. Upon graduating, I will enter outpatient orthopedics and work to specialize in this field by exploring the possibilities of an orthopedic residency program and completing the OCSC. While working as a lifelong clinician and learner, I would like to continue to develop my skills as a teacher by serving as a clinical instructor and work towards serving as a member of a DPT program’s faculty. My passion for working with the Hispanic community has only grown with my experiences at SHAC and in the UNC clinics. I plan to continue my work with this community in my clinical work and through my role as director of Amigas en Salud. As I near the end, I find myself exhilarated, with a hint of terrified, by the prospects of what my future holds.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “van der Horst, Sarah”

  1.   Carla Hillon 06 Jun 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent job developing your professional portfolio. You have clearly laid out past experiences and future aspirations that will result in a great PT career. Your energy, passion and commitment to learning throughout the DPT program and through the Amigas en Salud program have been admirable.


  2.   Lisa Johnstonon 07 Jun 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Congratulations on all of your accomplishments during the program. I admire your commitment to service. Take care


    •   Sarah van der Horston 18 Jun 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you both, Carla and Lisa!
      You have been incredible mentors to me over the past three years! So thank you for helping me get to where I am today!


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