Apr 27 2020

Earles, Jonathan

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Professional Goal Statement

I hope to begin my career as a licensed physical therapist shortly after my graduation from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The overarching goal I have for my career is to consistently strive to give myself, my coworkers, and the patients I work with the best opportunities to succeed. I believe that pursuing this goal will require collaboration, compassion, the clinical skills that I acquired at UNC, and a commitment to self-improvement. In addition, lifelong learning, mentorship, clinical specialty certification, and self-reflection may all play a role in developing my knowledge base and clinical practice. I have a growing interest in working with geriatric patient populations, and I can envision myself exploring this interest in any of a number of practice settings or locations. It is my current preference for to begin my career in North Carolina in an acute inpatient or inpatient rehab setting.

Career Plan

  • May 2016: Obtained Bachelor of Arts degrees in Exercise and Sport Science, History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)
  • August 2017: Entered UNC-CH Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program
  • Fall 2017: Became student member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
  • Clinical Rotations
    • June-August 2018: Outpatient orthopedic setting at Advanced Physical Therapy Solutions in Fayetteville, NC
    • March-April 2019: Acute care setting at Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, NC
    • April-June 2019: Inpatient rehabilitation, meeting the program requirement for neuromuscular setting, at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Columbia in Columbia, SC
    • June-July 2020: Both outpatient and acute care settings at UNC Chatham in Siler City, NC
  • July 2020: Sit for and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)
  • August 2020: Graduate from the UNC-CH Doctor of Physical Therapy program
  • Fall 2020: Become a full member of the APTA, consider joining APTA Geriatrics and/or Neurology sections
  • Fall 2020: Begin working in a North Carolina hospital system, be it in an acute inpatient or an inpatient rehab setting
  • Fall 2020 and beyond: Continue to network and explore interests in APTA Geriatrics and/or Neurology sections, consider applying to residencies as appropriate. Continue to bolster doctoral education with specialty certifications related to my professional interests, other continuing education experiences, and with independent evaluation of ongoing PT research
  • Fall 2022: Become an APTA-certified clinical instructor
  • Fall 2045, or so: semi-retire, reducing my time in clinical settings by taking on new opportunities such as volunteering in my community, teaching anatomy and/or anatomy lab at a local high school or community college, or pursuing another passion project


  • Strengths
    • Interpersonal skills, developing rapport with patients
    • Collaborating with other clinical staff members and patients
    • Written and oral communication skills
    • Planning treatment sessions to meet time constraints and specific patient needs
    • Time management and organization, including of large events
    • Professionalism and accountability – meeting deadlines, seeking and accepting new responsibilities
  • Areas for Professional Development
    • Efficiency with documentation
    • Confidence with independent patient management
    • Adapting to ambiguous situations, unfamiliar patient presentations, or rapid changes in status
    • Navigating the supervisory role when working with experienced PTAs
    • Improving understanding of political issues pertinent to PT practice, advocating for PTs and our patients
    • Improving familiarity with billing and coding, both for advocacy and daily clinical practice

Brief Areas of Interest

  • Geriatric care
  • Fall risk reduction among older adults
  • Patient education regarding exercise and promotion of other health-related behaviors
  • Working with patients in a therapeutic alliance


  1. Sit for and pass the NPTE (July 2020)
  2. Graduate from the UNC-CH Doctor of Physical Therapy program (August 2020)
  3. Begin gainful employment as a physical therapist in North Carolina (Fall 2020)
  4. Continue to grow and develop as a physical therapist, expanding my knowledge and skills to best work with my patients
  5. Develop a plan for my life after my career as a clinician, one with meaningful volunteer and/or vocational opportunities

Specific Strategies

  • Outline and implement a study plan for taking the NPTE
  • Optimize my learning experience during my final clinical rotation by seeking challenges and working closely with my final clinical instructor (CI)
  • When beginning my job search, prepare a list of key values, including mentorship programs for new physical therapists, that I would like to see in a future workplace; and organize my job search around these values
  • Establish connections with physical therapists in fields that I am interested in and learn from them, by joining APTA sections, specific special interest groups, and connecting to other members both electronically and at conferences
  • Become active in the NCPTA
  • Grow into leadership roles like being a CI

Product Examples

  • SOWO 843 Older Adults: Theory and Practice “Snippets of a Life Journey” Paper
    • This paper represented the final assignment of my fall 2019 elective class, hosted by the UNC School of Social Work. I was paired with an older adult living in the Carol Woods Retirement Community and was tasked with interviewing them about their life and organizing the interview into narrative form. This paper was presented to the older adult to share with their family as a keepsake and record of what they feel is important to note about their life and their personally held values. For their privacy, I submitted this de-identified copy for grading.
  • Critically Appraised Topic (CAT)
    • Product of PHYT 752 Evidence-Based Practice II. In this project, I sought to answer the focused clinical question: “For patients 80 years or older at risk of falls- as determined by performance on the TUG, 30 second chair stand, or 4-stage balance tests- is the Otago exercise program more effective than a strengthening program alone in preventing falls over follow-up periods of at least 6 and up to 12 months.”
  • Capstone Project – Recommendations for Improving Otago Exercise Program Implementation at UNC University Physical Therapy Clinics
    • This project drew upon the CAT, my experience working on an independent study credit while helping Dr. Vicki Mercer on a quality-improvement study in the fall of 2019, and my larger goals of learning about fall risk reduction among older adults. The end result of the project was a series of recommendations made to improve use of the Otago Exercise Program, a fall risk reducing exercise program, in UNC University Physical Therapy clinics.

Notable Experiences Outside the DPT Curriculum

  • Tutor – Academic Support Program for Student Athletes (Spring 2018 – Summer 2020): Tutoring UNC student athletes in Exercise and Sport Science courses, including anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics both reinforced lessons learned in the DPT program and gave me hundreds of extra hours of practice with communication skills needed in physical therapy. These included explaining challenging topics, using collaborative communication to establish, track, and meet goals, and facilitating communication within a group.
  • Co-Chair – UNC DPT Fall Student Fundraiser (October 2019): In the fall of 2019, my classmate Kristen Shumaker, faculty lead Mike McMorris, and I organized the annual DPT student fundraiser. The proceeds of this fundraiser benefitted the UNC Children’s summer camp Helping Kids with Hemiplegia, a summer camp using constrain-induced movement therapy, and the UNC Student PT Association. This was the first year that we raised money for Helping Kids with Hemiplegia camp, and the first year that the fundraiser took the form of a BBQ lunch and cornhole tournament.
  • Elective Class – SOWO 843 Older Adults: Theory and Practice (Fall 2019): This course covered the ageing process, common challenges associated with ageing, and practice skills for working with older adults. Myself and two of my classmates, Sara Galante and Austin White, had the benefit of learning from faculty in the school of social work, alongside students from other professions.


This program taught me the importance of being able to tolerate ambiguity and to have a willingness to act and to be decisive despite uncertainty. I have seen this mental flexibility consistently modeled in both the classroom and the clinic at UNC, though my classmates and I laughed at the response, “it depends,” that our instructors occasionally gave to questions with ambiguous or variant answers. In the end we were taught how to think and how to make decisions, not necessarily what to do in every specific situation. We were taught that our actions will depend on the circumstances. It turns out that those lessons were incredibly important for moving forward, given that the current global pandemic lends itself to plenty of ambiguity surrounding the end of our education and the start of our careers.

In the face of ambiguity, my goal is to be the best physical therapist that I can be, and to give myself, the other staff members I encounter, and the patients we work with the best chance at success. I’d like to always value lifelong learning, mentorship, collaboration, and compassion; and would like to start my career in North Carolina in an acute care or inpatient rehab setting. The growth I experienced, during my time in the DPT program at UNC, in pursuit of these goals is significant – I entered the program with only a very loose sense of what I valued and what I was getting myself into, and developed from there. This growth occurred over the course of three delightful years, through work, conversations with classmates, watching the example of the faculty and my clinical instructors, and self-reflection. I will graduate the DPT program at the University of North Carolina full of both the most confidence in myself and my abilities that I’ve ever had, and the most humility in recognizing the work, improvement, and growth that remain. I will graduate filled to the brim with gratitude towards the brilliant, hard-working faculty, clinicians, and members of the UNC DPT class of 2020 who all served as examples for me.




One response so far

One Response to “Earles, Jonathan”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 30 Jun 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Jonathan: Great job on your portfolio! Nice to see your hard work laid out so nicely. I am sure you will do very well! Good luck to you. Lisa


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