Apr 27 2020

Douglass, Joe

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Professional Goal Statement

After graduating from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at UNC-Chapel Hill and becoming licensed, I plan to being a career as a physical therapist in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) as a Commissioned Corps officer of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). I will utilize my background and training to help incarcerated individuals reach functional independence within the correctional environment. I hope to maximize patients’ function while being incarcerated, but also prepare them for functional independence after being release into the community. My goal is to have a positive impact on each individual I encounter, and to advocate for the rehabilitation component of our criminal justice system. I am especially excited to help patients achieve habitual physical activity goals, and to take a more active role in their health and wellness.


Career Plan

Past Experience

  • 2011-2015: B.S. in Physiological Science; UCLA
    • 2013-2015: Sports Medicine Internship Program; UCLA Sports Medicine
  • August 2016: Certified Strength and Condition Specialist (CSCS), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • August 2017: Begin DPT program at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • October 2017 – May 2020: Allied Health Sciences Ambassador
  • January 2018 – January 2019: SHAC PT Triage Coordinator

Clinical Experience

  • Clinical Affiliation I: 2018 – UNC Wellness Center; Meadowmont/Cary, NC; Outpatient Orthopedics (8 weeks)
  • Clinical Affiliation II: 2019 – Intrepid Spirit Center at Womack Army Medical Center; Fort Bragg, NC; Outpatient Neurology/Vestibular Rehabilitation (8 weeks)
  • Clinical Affiliation III: 2019 – W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center; Salisbury, NC; Acute Care (8 weeks)
  • Integrated Clinical Experience: 2019 – UNC Family Medicine Center/UPT Hillsborough; Chapel Hill/Hillsborough, NC; Outpatient Orthopedics (120 hours)
  • Clinical Affiliation IV: 2020 – Federal Medical Center at Butner; Butner, NC; Ambulatory Care/Inpatient (8 weeks)

Future Plans

  • 2020
    • Sit for and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in July
    • Graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill DPT program in August
    • Begin career with USPHS and BOP
  • 2021-2023
    • Hold a committee position with USPHS Junior Officer Advisory Group (JOAG)
    • Hold a sub-committee position with USPHS Therapist Professional Advisory Committee (TPAC)
    • Begin an accredited orthopedic clinical residency program
    • Attend continuing education courses in areas such as: augmented soft tissue mobilization, trigger point dry needling, mechanical diagnosis and therapy, chronic pain management
  • 2023 and Beyond
    • Obtain Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) board certification
    • Become credentialed clinical instructor and mentor DPT students and orthopedic PT residents
    • Become guest lecturer for local DPT program
    • Hold sub-committee chair position with USPHS TPAC




  • Professional and ethical behavior
  • High regard for preventative medicine and wellness
  • Prioritize personal and professional growth, always seeking feedback
  • Strong background in exercise prescription and progression

Areas for Professional Development

  • Be comfortable with making mistakes
  • Attend conferences and continuing education courses
  • Persistent commitment to evidence-based practice and research
  • Building a therapeutic alliance with challenging patients
  • Acknowledge my biases and privileges, and advocate for equity in our society



  • Graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill DPT program and pass the NPTE
  • Complete Officer Basic Course for USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers
  • Complete Federal Law Enforcement Training course for BOP employment
  • Graduate from accredited orthopedic clinical residency program and obtain OCS certification
  • Complete APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program
  • Hold sub-committee positions with USPHS TPAC as mentioned above

Specific Strategies

  • Develop and follow study plan to prepare for the NPTE
  • Foster and maintain professional relationships with mentors, faculty, clinical instructors, colleagues, supervisors, and classmates
  • Retain APTA membership and attend continuing education courses
  • Seek out leadership opportunities within USPHS to demonstrate and develop professional responsibility skills
  • Educate myself on the history of structural inequalities utilizing credible resources and advocate for change when appropriate


Academic Work/Product Samples

DPT Capstone Project

Advanced Orthopedic Intervention and Assessment Final Course Project

Evidence-Based Practice II Critically Appraised Topic


Reflective Statement

When I first moved to North Carolina from California, I was a bit nervous. I was arriving in an arguably foreign land from what I had known my previous 24 years on this earth. My mother was nervous as well – with me being so far away, in a different time zone, and in an area where we had few family and friends. However, after getting settled in Chapel Hill and meeting my new classmates and faculty members, I was the least bit concerned about my decision to move clear across the country. Fairly early on, it became apparent that we are a family at UNC, and it makes for a wonderful learning environment.

I had the opportunity to pursue clinical rotations and other learning opportunities in areas that interested me. I was able to challenge myself and fulfill my desire to serve the community with our many outreach programs. I also explored a new region of the country that I find quite stunning and beautiful. But above all else, I developed lifelong personal and professional relationships that I dearly cherish.

It is because of my decision to come to Carolina that I found out about the clinical rotation at the Federal Correctional Center at Butner, which sparked my interest in pursuing a career with the Bureau of Prisons. As a result, I have completed the application process to become a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, and am slated to provide physical therapy services to incarcerated individuals after graduation. I plan to pursue this career as far as it will take me, providing me the opportunity to serve those in need of quality physical therapy care, as well as to grow professionally and personally.

My time at UNC has not been without its challenges. However, I feel the challenges are what make us stronger and more resilient individuals. The most recent challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic, has thrown quite a curveball at us with mounting uncertainty. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t want to go through it with anyone else but the PT family we have at UNC. I am truly grateful to have quality people around me at Carolina, and that has made this Doctoral degree journey all the more rewarding.




3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Douglass, Joe”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 30 Jun 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Joe: Very nice to see some samples of your work and your reflection. I am super excited for you and your career choice with the Prison System. I know you will find it very rewarding. I would love to see the earlier completed parts of the portfolio also. Good luck to you! Lisa


  2.   Vicki Merceron 01 Jul 2020 at 12:52 am

    Joe – I’m glad to see that you view the UNC Division of PT as “family”. That’s how I feel too! I’m also happy to see that you’ve identified a career path for yourself in the U.S. Public Health Service working with people who are incarcerated. This is important work, and I know you’ll do a great job! Keep in touch by writing “home” to us once in awhile!!



  3.   Debbyon 02 Jul 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Joe – as a fellow risk taker I’m happy to see you’ve reaped the benefits of this move. I’m so happy you’ve chosen the path less taken in the US Public Health Service. We need high caliber people like you in service to our country.


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