Apr 27 2020

Buchanan, Helen

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Professional Goal Statement

Through completion of my Doctor of Physical Therapy, I aim to practice as a licensed physical therapist with a generalist knowledge base rooted in strong clinical reasoning and evaluative diagnostic techniques applicable to a variety of settings and condition presentations. I aspire to begin my career in an acute or other clinical setting in the Triangle that fosters my growth as a new clinician with responsible mentorship and opportunities for instructional and managerial advancement.


Career Plan

Prior Experiences

  • May 2010: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, Minor in History — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • May 2010 – June 2012: Staff Writer/Columnist and Director of Marketing at Tobacco Road Media, contributor to UNC Athletic Communications
  • July 2012 – January 2014: Communications Assistant at UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Athletics Office of Athletic Communications
  • January 2014 – July 2015: Media Relations Manager at UNC-Chapel Hill Communications & Public Affairs
  • July 2012 – Present: Statistician for UNC Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams


Physical Therapy Education and Experiences

Anticipated Graduation August 2020: Doctor of Physical Therapy — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Clinical Affiliations:

  • June-July 2018, 8 weeks: Outpatient Orthopedics – Pivot Physical Therapy Cary Aquatics in Cary, NC
    • General musculoskeletal diagnoses, post-operative elective orthopedic surgeries (including rotator cuff repair, meniscectomy, ACL reconstruction, and total knee replacement), and aquatic therapy
  • March-April 2019, 8 weeks: Acute – UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, NC
    • 4 weeks specializing in trauma and orthopedics, 4 weeks floating to all areas of the hospital including neurology, oncology, cardiopulmonary, and general medicine
  • May-June 2019, 8 weeks: Inpatient Rehabilitation – Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, NC
    • Stroke and brain injury rehabilitation, cardiac procedure recovery, lower extremity amputation, and other neurologic conditions
  • March-April 2020, 6 weeks: Virtual Integrated Clinical Experience – UNC Division of Physical Therapy
    • Telehealth-focused approach to evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care for a variety of case studies
  • June-July 2020, 8 weeks: Home Health – UNC Home Health


Professional Development and Experiences:

  • 2017 – Present: American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)/NC Physical Therapy Association (NCPTA) Member
  • October 2018: NCPTA Fall Conference
  • March 2018 – February 2019: Networking Committee Chair of UNC Student Physical Therapy Association
  • March – June 2019: Program compliance follow-up phone calls with CHAMPS participants under the advisement of Alison Berglund, SPT, UNC DPT Class of 2019 and supervision of Vicki Mercer, PT, PhD
  • September 2019: Falls prevention awareness screening and educational sessions at Seymour Center of Chapel Hill as part of 2019 NCPTA FPSIG Falls Prevention Challenge
  • Senior Fitness Testing at Passmore Senior Center of Hillsborough, Seymour Center of Chapel Hill, and Carol Woods Retirement Community of Chapel Hill under the supervision of Carol Giuliani, PT, PhD, FAPTA
  • PT screening of dancers at Barriskill Dance Theatre School of Durham under the supervision of Ashley Lake, DPT, PT, SCS
  • PT screening at Urban Ministries of Durham
  • Free from Falls screening assessment with MS Scholars fall prevention initiative


Future Goals

Following my academic career, I intend to:

  • Sit for the PT Licensure exam on July 29, 2020
  • Graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill with my DPT in August 2020
  • Begin my PT career in an acute care hospital or other clinical environment that I feel will foster my skills and support my endeavors as I grow as a provider
  • Guest lecture with DPT programs and act as a resource to DPT or pre-DPT students for labs, observation, and case-study experiences
  • Become a Certified Clinical Instructor within 5 years of graduation and mentor other DPT students
  • Further my involvement with the APTA and NCPTA and continuing education opportunities with the potential to become certified in a variety of techniques beneficial to my current employer setting
  • Pursue leadership opportunities within my employer organization




  • Initiative
    • I am not one to sit idly by when there is a learning opportunity available or someone in need of assistance. I actively seek ways to improve my skills and demonstrate a high degree of work ethic to accomplish my goals.
  • Professionalism
    • I strive for accountability, preparedness, and responsibility in every situation I encounter while maintaining a level of respect and dignity for all.
  • Communication
    • My ambivert personality and background in journalism and media relations help me daily in my efforts to have strong communication skills that are versatile and adaptable to the situation and audience.
  • Resilience
    • The trials and tribulations of working in media relations, changing career paths, and now nearing the end of my DPT career in the midst of a pandemic make for interesting conversation but have nonetheless shaped who I have become and given me strength to face future challenges.


Areas for Professional Development

  • Application of clinical reasoning: While confident in my abilities to examine, evaluate, diagnose and prognose, I would like to better my inference of clinical reasoning as it is one skill to determine what to improve upon but another to determine how to do it.
  • Expand intervention and applicable outcome measures base: I would like to expand my toolkit of interesting, innovative, and applicable interventions and applicable outcome measures that are relevant to the patient that incorporates multiple aspects of the person including body function and structure, activities, participation, and personal and environmental factors.
  • More experience with the business side of physical therapy: I would like to gain more knowledge of reimbursement, insurance, and regulations that affect the business side of clinical care in order to provide the best available and sustainable care to my patients while supporting my colleagues.



  • Obtain a strong educational background in generalist physical therapy applicable across settings and conditions.
  • Graduate with my DPT and obtain licensure to practice as a physical therapist.
  • Secure employment in the Piedmont of North Carolina with an employer that will mentor and guide my early years as a clinician.
  • Become a certified clinical instructor to continue the cycle of mentorship and learning opportunities I benefitted from as a DPT student.


Specific Strategies for Success

  • Seek opportunities from faculty and clinical instructors at every opportunity to expand my clinical skill set and engage my application of didactic knowledge in my final clinical rotation.
  • Develop a calendar to assist in my efforts to study for the NCPTE to ensure my preparedness for passing and satisfactory scoring.
  • Maintain and expand my network of contacts within the field including mentors, colleagues, and classmates to continue my efforts to be a part of a multidisciplinary approach to provide quality care to the people of North Carolina and beyond.


Samples of Work During DPT Curriculum

  • Capstone Project: Falls Risk Screening and Assessment Skills for the Student Physical Therapist
    • Updated lecture and lab content for the UNC DPT curriculum in the first and second years, including
  • Critically Appraised Topic (CAT): Otago vs. Group Exercise Fall Reduction in Older Adults
    • Produced for PHYT 752 Evidence Based Practice II class comparing the Otago Exercise Program to group exercise in the reduction of reported falls in community-dwelling older adults with poor balance and history of falls
  • Teacher-Scholar Lecture: Fractures and Physical Therapy Management
    • Presented to second-year DPT students in PHYT 734 as part of my teaching assistant experience


Reflective Statement

I’m a Tar Heel born and bred so to earn my second degree, my Doctor of Physical Therapy, from this outstanding university is an honor. Carolina strives to produce community members who seek to answer the needs of the people, question and adapt to new challenges, and approach all aspects of life in a noble and humble manner. Through my 3 years in the UNC Division of Physical Therapy, I have had the fantastic privilege to learn from the best and brightest clinicians and researchers who are also incredible individuals outside of their crafts. The faculty and staff have challenged us as aspiring clinicians while supporting us through every aspect of the journey and I could not be more grateful for their expertise, compassion, and enthusiasm.

UNC has granted me the opportunity to grow as a student and person in many environments and clinical settings, with multiple populations, and with a vast knowledge base to meet the needs of my future patients. The well-rounded and experience-focused curriculum taught me to continue to question, that more than one approach can be effective, and our differences make us as strong as our similarities when we work toward a common goal. And most importantly and humbling from the experience that is PT school, the past 3 years have further instilled in me to rejoice but reflect in the successes, learn but rejuvenate in the losses, and enjoy the journey. I am proud of the clinician UNC has made me and look forward to continuing to grow, learn, and share in the opportunities that lie ahead.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Buchanan, Helen”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 30 Jun 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Helen: Great job on your portfolio! So nice to see samples of your work. I know you will go on to do many exciting things in your career. Please stay in touch and good luck to you! Lisa


  2.   Debbyon 30 Jun 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Helen – I’ve enjoyed your nontraditional background and how you’ve “mothered” your classmates in the program. You’ve got some nice products and reflections. I’d love to see your future include the combination of PT and communication to advocate for our patients and profession. You’d be a rock star!


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