Apr 27 2020

Fontela, Kristen

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Professional Goal Statement

I aspire to be a therapist who incorporates collaborative, patient-centered, and evidence-based care. To achieve this goal, I will prioritize life-long learning, frequent reflection, and self-assessment to ensure I am constantly improving. I hope to work in an outpatient orthopedic setting in the Triangle serving individuals across the lifespan with both orthopedic and neurologic conditions. I will partner with my patients, as a member of their care team, providing empathy and encouragement on their rehabilitation journey.


Career Plan


  • B.S in Exercise Science with Psychology minor, Elon University (2017)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, UNC Chapel Hill (2017 – 2020)
  • Clinical Experiences
    • Clinical I: Pivot Physical Therapy: Cary, NC (Outpatient Orthopedics) – 2018
    • Clinical II: Cape Fear Valley Medical Center: Fayetteville, NC (Acute Care) – 2019
    • Clinical III: Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation: Fayetteville, NC (Inpatient rehabilitation SCI Unit– Neuro Emphasis) – 2019
    • Clinical IV: Duke Diet and Fitness Center: Durham, NC (Outpatient Orthopedics) – 2020


  • National Physical Therapy Examination (July 2020)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree, UNC Chapel Hill (August 2020)
  • Attain full time employment in NC in outpatient orthopedic setting (beginning Fall 2020)
  • 2023: Become a clinical instructor
  • Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedics (by 2026)




  • Communication and education for patients, families, peers of varying ages, conditions, and backgrounds
  • Building rapport with patients
  • Extra-curricular work with individuals with TBI and CVA to problem-solve mobility and self-care needs for optimal independence.
  • Empathetic and compassionate
  • Highly motivated to self-assess and implement feedback from others to improve as clinician, leader, peer
  • Strong educational foundation, including emphasis on evidence-based practice
  • Professionalism and commitment to lifelong learning
  • LSVT Big Certified

Areas for Further Development

  • Increase scope and understanding of billing and reimbursement
  • Supervision and direction of PTAs and support staff
  • Daily commitment to and implementation of evidence-based practice
  • Increase participation in professional advocacy on local, state, and national levels
  • Continue to improve evaluation and treatment clinical skills for orthopedic and neurological populations


Objectives and Strategies for Development

Complete UNC DPT education and become licensed physical therapist in NC: I plan to remain disciplined and engaged in my classes and studies throughout the remainder of this program. I will follow a specific, customized plan to study for and pass the NPTE in July 2020 to obtain my physical therapy license.

Obtain full-time employment in outpatient setting with formal mentorship program: I intend to research, monitor, and pursue job opportunities which emphasize the application of evidence-based practice, in the Triangle in outpatient orthopedics. I will pursue mentorship relationships that will encourage growth and professional development as a new graduate.

Develop advanced clinical skills: I will remain focused and motivated in pursuing continuing education areas of interest (manual therapy, Parkinson’s, orthopedics, stroke). I will continually self-assess and seek feedback from various sources to improve my clinical skills and patient care. I intend to consider applying for residencies to prepare for eventual specialty certification.

Remain involved in regular community engagement and connected to UNC DPT Program: I plan to volunteer as a new DPT for pro-bono PT opportunities as well as other community service opportunities for underserved populations, and I will seek employers that encourage this. I intend to become a clinical instructor, maintain my APTA membership, and remain involved in and connected with the UNC DPT program.


Products Examples

DPT Capstone Project: Fontela_Shumaker_Falls Post-Stroke-Final

Critically Appraised Topic: Fontela_CAT

Inservice Presentation: Fontela_NMO_Inservice   (it is best to watch this in “Presentation” mode with animations)


Other Extracurricular Experiences

  • Teaching Scholar Program Teaching Assistant – Human Anatomy – Fall 2019
  • Service Learning Trip – Antigua, Guatemala – Spring 2020
  • Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) – Outpatient Orthopedics – Spring 2020
  • Research Experience with Dr. Michael Lewek – 2019-2020
  • Personal Aide for several local patients with CVA, SCI, blindness, and other balance and gait deficits.
  • LSVT Big Certification – 2019


Reflective statement and assessment of progress toward goal

As I reflect on my time at Carolina, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to attend this program, to pursue my passion, and to do so alongside colleagues and faculty that have invested in my future.

This program has equipped me with every necessary tool to start my career in the clinic, as well as the self-assessment skills to learn and grow from these experiences. I believe this program has emphasized and executed my development as a versatile, well-rounded therapist. Carolina has offered ample opportunities for me to hone a diverse skill set that will serve me well in whatever setting I practice in the future.

Pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy from a great school like Carolina is one of the biggest financial and time commitments I’ve ever made, but it’s already proven to be one of the most rewarding. Through the physical, emotional, and mental demands of this program, I have emerged a better learner, clinician, researcher, and, hopefully, a better person. I am beyond grateful for the community that I have developed over the past 3 years at Carolina, and I hope I can convey my gratitude by giving my time to invest in future Carolina students as opportunities arise.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Fontela, Kristen”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 30 Jun 2020 at 9:38 pm

    Kristen: Great job on your portfolio! So nice to see some samples of your work. You have had some great opportunities and you have certainly taken advantage of them. So nice to have you in Guatemala, your energy, optimism and humor made the experience extra special. Good luck to you! Stay in touch!! Lisa


  2.   Michael Lewekon 01 Jul 2020 at 9:15 am

    Kristen: It was great to have the opportunity to work so closely with you this past year. Thank you for all your hard work, energy, and enthusiasm. Those traits will help contribute to the success that I know you will have. Best of luck! Mike


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