Apr 18 2019

Nieman, Rachel

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Professional Goals:

To improve my ability to analyze and interpret and apply current research so that I can provide the best possible care for my patients.


Career Path and Plan:

I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist my junior year in high school after “shadowing” a physical therapist at a local rehabilitation hospital. This brief shadowing experience left me awe struck at the impact a physical therapist could have in a patient’s life. I attended the University of Kentucky from 2000-2006 and graduated with a BS in Exercise Science and a MS Science in Physical Therapy. Over the past 13 years or so, I have explored various fields of physical therapy, but my greatest passion is for working with patients in the outpatient setting. I love to help patients to improve their quality of life through treatments that can help decrease pain and improve function. I enjoy the challenge of working with a variety of age groups and diagnoses that comes with the general outpatient setting.


I have recently been directing my learning endeavors at women’s health topics. This is an area that has interested me for quite some time due to my personal experience with endometriosis and chronic pelvic girdle pain during and following pregnancy. I am really enjoying working with women who have pelvic girdle pain and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, as I feel that women with these diagnoses are often under served by our medical community in general. I hope to continue expanding my knowledge in this area so that I can provide excellent care in the realm of women’s health.




1.Become proficient at professional/academic writing to better communicate with other professionals and clinicians.

This is an area where I will never feel totally confident. However, I believe my skills as a writer have improved significantly since I began this DPT program. Much to my chagrin, the vast majority of the work necessary for this program involved writing; whether it be writing and responding to discussion board posts or lengthier assignments such as the literature review I wrote as part of my capstone project. Despite my discomfort with academic writing, a significant amount of it was necessary to complete this program, giving me ample practice to improve my skills and increase my confidence. I hope that I can continue to work on this area moving forward so that I can convey my thoughts in the most professional manner possible.  Below is an example of my improvements in academic writing.

875 Final Paper


2.Improve my ability to analyze and interpret academic literature so that I can provide high quality, evidence-based care to my patients.

This is an area where I do feel that I have improved significantly over the past 2 years. Just as with academic writing, there was a significant focus on finding and analyzing research during this DPT program. After completing my Master’s degree, I did not feel very competent in reviewing and analyzing research. I am happy to say that I feel very competent in this area now. I realize that I could always improve further, however I am happy to have the ability to better analyze a study to determine whether or not it is biased, valid, and clinically relevant. This is especially important in the “information age” where patients have access to so much information on the internet. Now that I have a better understanding of research, I can better help my patients to navigate through the endless information that can be found with a Google search.  Below are examples my work related to analyzing research:

NiemanR – Assignment 5–CAT Template (1)

NiemanR_Literature Review_Final Draft_4.17.19


3.Maintain an open mind regarding new evidence and treatment strategies that have emerged in the past 13 years since I underwent my initial training as a physical therapist.

I have been very successful with this goal. Sometimes it is hard to remain open-minded and unbiased towards new information, especially when you have years clinical experience. However, I consider myself to be inquisitive, curious, and a life-long learner. I worked hard during the course of this program to keep an open mind toward new ideas and current research while also applying this new information within the context of my current experience. It was very interesting throughout the program to read the thoughts and ideas of the student physical therapists, I loved hearing fresh ideas from students who were less biased by experience.



I have really enjoyed this program and feel that I have gained much from my experience as a UNC tDPT student. As I mentioned above, I really enjoy learning and considering new ideas and perspectives. I find that I have been able to utilize and apply concepts that I have learned each semester with my current patients. So the program has been immediately applicable to my clinical practice. I am very happy I made the decision to pursue this DPT degree to further my clinical knowledge and become a better physical therapist for my patients. All that being said…I am also very happy to be finished! My greatest joy in life is my family; throughout this program I have relied on the support of my husband and parents, and the patience of my children. Without their patience and support, my success would not have been possible. In addition to family life, I have worked full time while being a part time student. This has provided me with the advantage of being able to immediately apply course concepts to clinical practice, however, that comes with the cost of time. For the better part of 2 years, I have felt that there is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done in a day or a week. I am happy to have the accomplishment of completing this program and very relieved to be finished. I am grateful to all of the professors involved in the DPT program for sharing your knowledge, dedication to patient care, and love of learning with your students. And thankful for the student (soon to be physical therapists) who I have taken this journey with – your fresh ideas and perspectives have been very valuable to me.

One response so far

One Response to “Nieman, Rachel”

  1.   Prue Plummeron 12 Jun 2019 at 6:22 pm

    What you have accomplished while balancing such a full life is truly inspirational. I wish you continued success and happiness.
    Warm regards,


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