Apr 27 2020

Tompkins, Jennifer

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Jennifer Tompkins PT, DPT


Professional Goals

  • To create a professional and clinical atmosphere that provides the highest quality pediatric physical therapy to young children throughout the state of North Carolina. Our clinical expertise will be evidence-based, family-centered, cutting edge, and collaborative to ensure the needs of the children and families we encounter are met to the best of our abilities.
  • Engage with physical therapy students in the classroom and the clinic, boosting knowledge and exposure of physical therapy provided in the early intervention setting to PT students across the state of North Carolina.

Career Path and Plan

I have always enjoyed working with children. As a teenager and young adult, I sought jobs that involved physical movement, sports instruction, included teaching, and involved children; gymnastics coach, swim instructor, and high school biology TA. I had the good fortune of being offered a physical therapy technician position in the early 2000s at UNC Hospitals after my undergraduate career came to a close. This position at UNC provided me with first-hand experience in the PT world that was necessary to ensure this was the best career decision for myself. I was crossed trained to assist PTs in pediatrics, geriatrics, a variety of ICU’s, and the inpatient rehabilitation and burn units. The varied experience helped solidify my goal to attend physical therapy school, and I set my sights on UNC. After graduating from UNC with my Master’s, I entered into the pediatric physical therapy world straight away and began a journey in pediatrics that takes me to this day.

Once I was a licensed clinician, I had the fortune of having many different clinical roles at UNC Health Care over many years. Still, the two clinical positions that shaped me the most were the time I spent working in the children’s hospital and the NC Jaycee Burn Center. Being an integral part of the long and complicated recovery progress that occurs in burn rehabilitation enhanced my first-hand experience with trauma care, early ICU mobilization, pain, and recovery with both children and adults. Later, a move across the country brought me back to my hometown in California, where I took a job working in early intervention, which was like a breath of fresh air after the intense experience of working in burn rehabilitation. This cross country move and career shift inspired the next phase of my career. I returned to North Carolina with a desire to open my own pediatric physical therapy practice. No easy task, I spent a year or more researching and understanding the legal and clinical aspects of owning a practice. I set forth as an independent practitioner officially at the end of 2013 with a big leap of faith, and eventually formally named the practice “Carrboro Pediatric Physical Therapy.” Would I have enough patients to support myself? Would I be reimbursed for my work? Was this legally and financially too risky?  I spent years learning about billing and reimbursement, creating clinical policies and procedures, implementing technologies needed for efficiency, understanding contracts with both public and private payers, and training and welcoming other PT’s to practice with me. This significant endeavor, which turned out to be successful, inspired me to complete my transitional DPT. While these last two years have been challenging to manage both professionally and personally, the growth the program fostered in me was worth it.

In the next phase of my career, which begins now, I plan to continue operating my small pediatric practice here in the triangle area. I am open to expanding to new parts of the state as my clinical team grows. I want to pursue becoming a board-certified specialist in pediatrics, and increase my engagement at local and national level physical therapy associations and conferences. Lastly, I would like to move towards some academic teaching by providing lectures and eventually teach a portion or full class that combines my unique knowledge as a practice owner and varied pediatric physical therapy background. With my new freshly honed ability to review and synthesize evidence out of available research, I believe I can be an asset to physical therapy academic institutions.


I am not afraid of challenges or from venturing from the traditional path. I have always been an individual, doing things in my own unique way. This personality strength has led me to take on risks and explore varied professional options. I enjoy working independently, but I also embrace working with others. I tend to be a quiet leader, allowing people to be themselves, make their own choices, and place little restrictions on others. I connect well with families from different cultures by enabling the family and patient to lead. I stray from telling my patients what they must to do to reach their goals, but rather support them wherever they may be even when their choices are different than mine. I tend to want people who work with me to do the same. I need to work on recognizing that others have different ways of working with families. I also need to expand my network with PTs from across the state. I tend to keep to myself, but to grow and develop professionally, I must step out of my comfort zone soon.


  1. Enhance training materials and boost guidance for PTs joining my practice by creating more educational materials similar to those I created for my Capstone.
  2. Lecture at least twice per year to PT students at various academic institutions.
  3. Attract more PTs to join my team by seeking out ways to promote my clinical practice, and encourage an atmosphere of clinical excellence.
  4. Apply for and sit for the board-certified pediatric specialty exam and pass.


Over the past two years, I have written more papers, read more articles, and created more materials that I ever thought possible. I am proud to share some of my work to demonstrate my academic excellence, practicality, and clear and concise synthesis of evidence in my written work.

  1. J.Tompkins Assignment 3- HIE– This assignment allowed me to dive deep into a common pediatric diagnosis that gets little attention, yet causes life-long impairments. Synthesizing the evidence on this topic enhances my clinical practice and those around me.
  2. Tompkins.J -CAT– This critical appraisal topic allowed me to compare two outcome measures rarely used during in-home clinical practice but has quality evidence supporting their use. This CAT increased the chance that myself and those around me will utilize outcome measures when assessing postural control.
  3. https://dptcapstone.web.unc.edu/category/capstone-projects-2020/tompkins-jennifer-capstone-projects-2020/ –  Please see my literature review, literature table, and pocket guide. In these three products, I synthesize the available literature on infant postural control and created a guide to help increase the use of appropriate outcome measures to assess postural control. Expanding the use of outcome measures will boost our clinical precision when working with infants and toddlers.


I am proud to have completed the transitional DPT program while working and being a mom to my 9-year-old daughter. I have grown cognitively over the past two years, plainly put I am just smatter now than I was before! My reading and writing skills have grown exponentially over the two years. I am more prepared to deliver excellent physical therapy care to patients and families, as well as lead and guide new PTs entering the world of pediatrics. I am more organized, critical, and reflective of my processes now that I have completed this program. I see myself moving forward and branching out in new directions, actively seeking more opportunities to engage in new ways within my profession and more directly with my peers.

One response so far

One Response to “Tompkins, Jennifer”

  1.   Debby Givenson 30 Jun 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Jennifer – congratulations on completing the program while running a practice and raising a family. I enjoyed interacting with you at Advocacy Day. You also enriched the courses and discussions for the entry level students. Keep taking risks and they will continue to reap rewards!


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