Apr 27 2020

White, Austin

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Professional Goal Statement

My professional goal is to become a physical therapist who is known for being patient-centered and collaborative across disciplines to best treat my patients. After graduation from the UNC DPT program in August 2020, I aspire to work in the acute care or inpatient rehabilitation setting, serving a wide variety of patient populations with a focus on neurological injuries such as brain injury or spinal cord injury. I plan to serve patients in my home state of North Carolina. To incorporate my passion for mentoring others, I have a long-term goal to become an APTA-certified clinical instructor and hope to one day teach as an adjunct professor in a DPT program.

Career Plan


  • May 2014: Graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication (Public Relations Sequence)

August 2017 – 2020: Enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an expected graduation date of August 1, 2020

  • Electives
    • Interdisciplinary Older Adult Theory and Practice (3 credits)
    • Integrated Clinical Experience at UNC Health Care (University Physical Therapy in Hillsborough, NC) with Outpatient Neurological Physical Therapist (1 credit, 60 hours)
    • Teacher-Scholar for Musculoskeletal I (1 credit)
    • International Service Learning Trip to Guatemala (1 credit)
  • Capstone
    • Bridging the Gap: Transition from Hospital to Home for SCI
      • Final year project completed in collaboration with Sara Galante, SPT, including two peer mentor videos on direction of care and a literature review of patient and caregiver education for the SCI population [“Samples of Work” below]
  • Clinical Experiences
    • June – August 2018 (8 weeks): Outpatient Orthopedics – New Hanover Regional Medical Center Oleander Rehab in Wilmington, NC
    • March – April 2019 (8 weeks): General Acute Care in an Underserved setting – Atrium Health Stanly in Albemarle, NC
    • May – June 2019 (8 weeks): Inpatient Rehabilitation with the Brain Injury population – New Hanover Regional Medical Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Wilmington, NC
    • June – July 2020 (8 weeks): Inpatient Rehabilitation with the Stroke & Amputation populations – WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital in Raleigh, NC


  • August 2020: Earn Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • July/October 2020: Sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to obtain licensure in North Carolina
  • November 2020: Obtain a full-time position in acute care or inpatient rehabilitation working with patients with neurological injuries in Charlotte, Wilmington, or Chapel Hill
  • 2021: Obtain LSVT-BIG certification
  • 2022: Become an APTA-certified clinical instructor & mentor first DPT student
  • 2023: Continue working with Sara Galante to produce additional peer mentor videos for the [future] Bridging the Gap website
  • 2024: Begin as guest lecture for a Neurology course or lab in an accredited DPT program
  • 2025: Sit for the Neurologic Specialist Certification (NCS) examination to become board certified
  • Long-term: Pursue clinician-professor role to teach upcoming DPT students



  • Patient rapport across the lifespan, cultural backgrounds, and settings
  • Communication including with patients, caregivers, physical therapists, interdisciplinary professionals, and others
  • Genuine passion for continued education throughout my career to best serve my patients, especially as research in the neurological population evolves
  • Patient and caregiver education, especially for individuals post-traumatic injury and their families

Areas for Professional Growth

  • Increased involvement in state and national professional organizations (NCPTA, APTA)
  • Improve clinical reasoning for evaluating and treating patients with complex neurological injuries/conditions
  • Expand “toolbox” of interventions especially for higher level neurological and geriatric patients
  • Increase understanding of insurance policies and financial management across settings


  • Graduate with DPT from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August 2020
  • Pass the NPTE licensure exam in July/October 2020
  • Secure a full-time position in acute care or inpatient rehabilitation by the end of 2020
  • Become proficient working with patients with complex neurological injuries and/or advanced cardiopulmonary conditions

Specific Strategies

  • Achieve entry-level status within 8 weeks during last clinical rotation at WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital through nightly preparation of evidence-based literature review to prepare best practice for the caseload
  • Develop and execute study plan for NPTE, including 8-week schedule with at least 4 hours of content review per day and at least 2-3 full practice exams
  • Research available positions and network to obtain interviews for available positions; practice interview questions to prepare for interviews; update LinkedIn page
  • Establish a relationship with a mentor who specializes in neurological conditions, specifically in the Neuro ICU if in acute care or on the brain injury/SCI team if in inpatient rehabilitation; attend journal clubs regularly to stay up-to-date on the current literature

Samples of Work from DPT Curriculum

Capstone: Bridging the Gap: Transition from Hospital to Home for SCI

  • Evidence Table & Literature Review on patient education strategies, benefits of self-direction of care, and educational platforms for the SCI population implemented via the peer mentor videos [available on the Capstone website linked above]

Critically Appraised Topic: Education for Caregivers of Individuals with SCI

Teacher Scholar Presentation: Peripartum Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Case Study

Inservice & MSK II Course Presentation: Total Ankle Arthroplasty Case Study & Gait Analysis Post-Total Joint Replacements (TAA, TKA, THA) 

Reflective Statement

It is really special to start and finish an experience with the same feelings. Upon admission and now, I feel truly honored to be a part (and soon, a graduate) of the UNC DPT program. This past winter while interviewing candidates for the class of 2023, I could not help but smile feeling so proud and thankful for the opportunity to represent UNC DPT. When asked by candidates “what is your favorite part of this program?” I beamed because I knew I could brag on the faculty here. I believe it is a rare combination to find a program where the professors are nationally renowned for their research and expertise while also truly caring about their students. I remember hearing about the open-door atmosphere at UNC DPT, where professors are always available and happy to help the students, and this is exactly what I experienced during my time in the program. Not only did this help me learn content, but it also led by example that patient-centered care (or in this case, student-centered learning) is the most effective and I am committed to practicing this way in my own career.

The past three years have been equally challenging and fulfilling. I have always loved learning, and I feel so blessed to have gotten to learn from the best mentors. For example, from the moment I met Jon Hacke, he has cared equally about Austin, the person, as he has Austin, the PT. This is one of the many non-academic lessons I have learned from my time in the UNC DPT program that I will apply to my career and life.

I could not be more thankful to have gone through this experience with my classmates. The 30 of us have truly become family, and while I will miss seeing them every day in the classroom, I know our bond will not end here. I am looking forward to seeing all of the amazing things my talented classmates will achieve, and I cannot wait for how we will continue to learn from each other as colleagues.

As a lifelong Tar Heel and soon-to-be two time graduate of this special University, I was proud to be admitted to the UNC DPT program and I am even more honored to be a part of the UNC DPT community today.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “White, Austin”

  1.   Debbyon 30 Jun 2020 at 8:21 pm

    Austin – you’ve produced some very nice products to represent your work in the DPT program, which was always outstanding. I enjoyed reading your reflection and appreciate that you see the value of caring for others is critical to the learning process. Good luck on your future plans.


  2.   Lisa Johnstonon 01 Jul 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Austin: I am so happy for you! Congrats on being done. Nice to see samples of your hard work. You have really accomplished a lot while you were here. Good luck to you! Stay in touch. Lisa


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