May 01 2018

Kate Finegan

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Professional Goal Statement

My professional goal, first and foremost, is to become a well-rounded physical therapist with the clinical and personal skills to successfully treat patients across the lifespan and in a variety of settings.  Upon graduating from the DPT program at UNC, I aspire to work in an outpatient setting that serves patients with both orthopedic and neurological conditions.  I ultimately aspire to work in a clinic in a rural area secondary to my interest in and passion for rural health.  With an interest in orthopedic conditions, manual therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries, vestibular disorders, and concussion, I intend to expand my wealth of knowledge through continuing education experiences. With a passion for teaching and mentoring, I also aspire to become an APTA credentialed clinical instructor and adjunct professor at a university in order to develop my teaching abilities to guide the development of future physical therapists.

Career Plan

  • May 2015: Graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences, Human Biology Concentration
  • August 2015-August 2018: Enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at UNC Chapel Hill
    • Clinical Rotation 1 (8 weeks): Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center; Winston Salem, NC – Pediatric Acute Care and Burn Rehabilitation
    • Clinical Rotation II (8 weeks): Select Physical Therapy; Concord, NC – Outpatient Orthopedics
    • Clinical Rotation III (8 weeks): Vidant Medical Center Outpatient Neurology; Greenville, NC – Outpatient Neurology
    • Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) under faculty member Jon Hacke PT, DPT, MA, OCS: Aycock Family Medicine Center; Chapel Hill, NC – Outpatient Orthopedics
    • Clinical Rotation IV (12 weeks): Carolinas Rehabilitations; Charlotte, NC – Inpatient Rehabilitation
  • February 2016 to February 2017: Served as SHAC PT Manager
  • October 2016: Attended NCPTA Fall Conference; obtained LSVT BIG certification
  • August-December 2017: PHYT 720 Teaching Assistant
  • October 2017: Attended NCPTA Fall Conference
  • January-April 2018: PHYT 722 Teaching Assistant
  • April 2018: UNC Physical Therapy Outreach Service Learning Trip to Guatemala
  • July 2018: Sit for National Physical Therapy Examination
  • August 2018: Earn Doctor of Physical Therapy from UNC Chapel Hill
  • September 2018: Obtain full-time employment in outpatient orthopedic or neurology setting
  • 2019: Begin Manual Therapy Certification Program
  • 2020: Attend Vestibular Rehabilitation Advanced Course
  • 2021: Become an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor and take first DPT student
  • 2022: Apply to and begin Concussion Management Certification through Evidence in Motion



  • Logistics
  • Professionalism
  • Communication skills and developing quick rapport with patients, their families, and co-workers
  • Passion for continuing education
  • Management skills gained through role as SHAC PT Manager
  • LSVT BIG certification
  • Variety of clinical experiences in various populations, including: acute pediatrics, pediatric burns, outpatient orthopedics, outpatient neuromuscular, and inpatient rehabilitation

Areas for Development

  • Assessing and treating patients with complex neurological conditions
  • Developing a thorough knowledge of billing and insurance reimbursement policies
  • Determining prognosis based on co-morbidities and other personal factors
  • Analyzing and implementing evidence-based interventions in everyday patient care
  • Further involvement in professional advocacy and professional conferences

Special Areas of Interest

  • Rural Health
  • Outpatient Orthopedics
  • Manual Therapy
  • Neurological and vestibular rehabilitation
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Concussion Rehabilitation


  • Effectively prepare for and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam July of 2018
  • Successfully complete final 12-week clinical rotation in inpatient rehabilitation setting to gain experience in all stages of the rehabilitation process, and to increase comfort level in working with patients with spinal cord injuries
  • Obtain a job by September 2018 in an outpatient setting with a formal mentorship program
  • Enroll in and complete APTA beginner course on Vestibular Rehabilitation in December 2018 to gauge interest in pursuing further vestibular rehabilitation certification
  • Obtain Certification in Orthopedic Manual Therapy (COMT)

Electives and Coursework

  • Fall 2017
    • Advanced Orthopedic Assessment and Intervention
    • Intermediate Spanish for Health Professionals I
    • Independent Study- Teaching Assistant for PHYT 720
  • Spring 2018
    • Integrated Clinical Experience (1 credit) in an outpatient ortho setting
    • Interdisciplinary Service Learning Trip

Product Examples

Capstone Project

  • Given my interest in neurodegenerative diseases and the LSVT BIG program, I decided to explore and present on the evidence-based treatment programs for Parkinson’s Disease for my capstone project.  The primary product developed was a narrated presentation (linked above; password: movebig) for clinicians and patients that included the presentation of two LSVT BIG case studies; a review and analysis of the evidence surrounding treadmill training, Tai Chi, dance, and boxing; and an analysis of potential mechanisms of effectiveness for the interventions explored.  Additionally, an evidence table exploring the best evidence for the interventions of interest was created to supplement the narrated presentation.

Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorders

  • As part of the Advanced Orthopedics elective, we had the opportunity to explore, analyze, and write about an area of interest for us clinically.  I chose to explore whiplash and whiplash associated disorders, as cervical pathologies are an area of great interest for me.  My paper investigates whiplash and its associated disorders, which include neck pain, stiffness, dizziness, paraesthesia in the upper quadrant, headache, and arm/shoulder pain.  It also explores the diagnosis, evaluation, and the evidence-based treatments of whiplash in an outpatient setting.

Sport-related Concussions and Subsequent Balance and Vestibular Deficits

  • As part of the Advanced Patient Management I course, we completed a module on traumatic brain injury.  For the final module assignment, I chose to research and write on sport-related concussions and the balance and vestibular sequelae that occur.  Given my interest in pursuing vestibular rehabilitation in the future, this paper allowed me to explore and expand upon my knowledge of an area of interest clinically.

Annual Physical Therapy Exam for Farmers and Agricultural Workers

  • As part of the Health and Wellness Elective, we had the opportunity to research and create an annual physical therapy examination for a population of interest.  Given my personal connection to agriculture and my interest in rural health, I created an examination tailored to farmers and agricultural workers.

Reflective Statement

My time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program has inspired and pushed me both personally and clinically.  I have gained so much more from this program than my degree; I have gained the soft-skills and intangibles that are so valuable as a physical therapist.  I have learned how to care for patients, rather than merely treat them.  I have learned that while there is so much uncertainty and “grey areas” in the field of physical therapy, we are all mutually bound by the deeply held values that drive us to pursue a career such as this.  I have been taught to learn, listen, and critically think. I have been surrounded by the most supportive and loving faculty and classmates that I could have ever asked for.  My decision to come to UNC was driven by the dedication to service and community involvement, and as I reflect on my time in the program I am in awe of the beautiful opportunities that I have been given: serving as a volunteer and manager for UNC’s pro-bono clinic (SHAC), the UNC SPTA philanthropy events, and our service learning trip to Guatemala.

Though I came into PT school with a desire to pursue acute care, I’ve come to realize that my clinical interests are leading me more into the outpatient orthopedic/neuro direction.  My clinical experiences, coursework, and electives have allowed me to discover my passions, and have helped me to realize that it is okay to not have it all figured out quite yet.  Three years ago, I never imagined myself being interested in rural health or orthopedics, and I fully credit UNC’s DPT program for pushing me outside of my comfort zone and challenging me to self-reflect and cultivate my interests.

As I face graduation and beyond, I am excited to continue to learn and develop myself as a clinician.  I want to work in a setting and clinic that truly enriches my life, gives me purpose, and challenges me more than anything.  Ten years down the road, I hope to be in my niche, thriving, leading, and serving.  I also aim to inspire my colleagues and future PTs in a teaching role.  I am a firm believer that to whom much is given, much is expected, and I cannot wait to give back to a program and a profession that has already provided me so much.

One response so far

One Response to “Kate Finegan”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 18 Jun 2018 at 7:44 am

    Kate: Great job! Love the Guatemala pic. I am thrilled to see how you have grow and some of the products of your work. I appreciated having you as a TA too. Good luck to you! Lisa


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