Dec 03 2020

McGovern, Heather

Published by

Heather McGovern


Professional Goal Statement

My professional goals include becoming a compassionate and creative physical therapist within the inpatient rehabilitation or acute care settings to serve patients with neurologic conditions including stroke, SCI, and TBI. With clinical interests in neurology, aquatic therapy, pediatrics, military populations, and patients with amputations I hope to integrate these interests over my clinical career to promote independent functional mobility and improved quality of life for my patients and their families/caregivers. I hope to work in a collaborative team environment with other healthcare professionals to problem-solve complex patient challenges such as prosthetic, orthotic, and adaptive equipment needs and providing evidence-based, patient-driven treatment interventions.

Career Plan


  • B.S. Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (2018)


  • Doctor of Physical Therapy, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, NC (anticipated July 2021)

  • Clinical Affiliations

    • New Hanover Regional Medical Center (Inpatient Rehabilitation), May – July 2021 – Wilmington, NC

    • Carolina Orthopedics and Sports Medicine (Outpatient Orthopedics), March – April 2021 – New Bern, NC

    • University Physical Therapy (Outpatient Neuro Integrated Clinical Experience [ICE]),  January – March 2021 – Hillsborough, NC

    • New Hanover County School Systems (School-Based Pediatrics), March 2020 – Wilmington, NC

    • UNC Hospitals (Acute Care), June – August 2019 – Chapel Hill, NC

  • Elective Coursework

    • Outpatient Neuro Integrated Clinical Experience

    • Child and Family Assessment and Intervention

    • Research; The Impact of COVID-19 on Rehabilitation Practice: A Clinician Perspective (see Capstone Project below)

  • Student Physical Therapy Association (SPTA), 3rd Year Representative at UNC-Chapel Hill

July 2021:

  • Earn Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

  • Sit for National Physical Therapy Board Exam (July 27, 2021) and obtain licensure to practice in North Carolina

  • Submit abstract/poster to APTA Combined Sections Meeting; The Impact of COVID-19 on Rehabilitation Practice: A Clinician Perspective

Fall 2021:

  • Obtain full-time physical therapist position within the inpatient rehabilitation or acute care settings in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Charlotte, or Wilmington areas working with neurologic populations

  • Join Neurology APTA Special Interest Group

  • Establish mentor relationship within my field of practice

2022 and Beyond:

  • Present research at APTA Combined Sections Meeting; The Impact of COVID-19 on Rehabilitation Practice: A Clinician Perspective

  •  In collaboration with Dr. Cassidy and The Cassidy Plasticity Lab, submit a manuscript in hopes of publication; The Impact of COVID-19 on Rehabilitation Practice: A Clinician Perspective

  • Become an APTA Certified Clinical Instructor and serve as a mentor for physical therapy students

  • Attend state and national APTA conferences and meetings

  • Apply for neurology residency/fellowship programs

  • Participate in regular journal club meetings to ensure up-to-date clinical practice and continued participation in research interests

  • Attain certifications and attend continuing education courses in clinical areas of interest to include LSVT-BIG and aquatic therapy


  • Obtain Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from UNC-Chapel Hill

  • Obtain Licensure in the State of North Carolina after successful passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)

  • Secure full-time inpatient rehabilitation physical therapist position within a hospital-based system; treating patients with neurologic and complex medical conditions including SCI, CVA, TBI, and degenerative conditions.

Specific Strategies

  • Foster mentorships with facility practicing/researching in areas of clinical interest, participate in relevant elective coursework and extra-curricular opportunities to expand clinical knowledge, collaborate with classmates, and complete all relevant coursework to obtain DPT from UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • Seek out job positions and mentorship opportunities with clinicians with vast clinical knowledge and expertise working with patient populations in inpatient rehab, neurology, pediatrics, and amputations.

  • Participate in APTA national/ state conferences and special interest group activities as well as regularly participate in Journal Clubs to stay up to date on research and new evidence-based practice findings.

  • Participate in continuing education courses in areas relevant to clinical practice and setting area.



Establishing patient and family rapport. Organization and time management skills. Diverse clinical interests, open to new experiences and learning opportunities within a variety of settings and patient populations. Considering patient and family/caregiver-driven priorities when establishing plan of care goals and treatment strategies.

Areas for Professional Development

Continued experience with a broad variety of patient presentations and diagnoses. Expand therapist ‘ toolbox’ of treatment ideas and interventions for less common or challenging patient diagnoses and presentations.


Product Examples


Capstone Project – The Impact of COVID-19 on Rehabilitation Practice: A Clinician Perspective

Health and Wellness Program Proposal: Comprehensive Health and Wellness Support for Breast Cancer Survivors

  • Program Proposal, Breast Cancer

  • Evidence-based program with elements including physical activity, lymphedema self-management, peer-based support groups, and short educational sessions on common challenges faced after breast cancer diagnosis and recovery.

Inservice: Equipment for Pediatric, School-Aged Children

  • Inservice Presentation

  • Educational inservice program on all types of pediatric equipment including standing frames, pacers/gait trainers, walkers, and wheelchairs (power, manual, adaptive strollers) for school-aged children to promote optimal participation in the educational environment.

Critically Appraised Topic (CAT): Cerebral Palsy and Treadmill Training 

  • Clinically Appraised Topic (CAT)

  • Considering all available evidence and research evaluating the use of treadmill versus over overground ambulation training for a child with cerebral palsy within the school system to improve outcome measures such as the 6 minute or 10-meter walk tests.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The last year of turmoil over racial injustices in our country in the face of a global pandemic has only further reiterated the long hard road many of us have to recognize our implicit biases. As healthcare providers serving communities across North Carolina, we must be at the forefront of those working hard to do better in serving our black and brown communities as well as underserved communities who disproportionately do not have adequate access to healthcare services including physical therapy. Through research review on racial healthcare disparities and participation in discussions and talks lead by UNC such as ‘Reflections on Race and Medicine in the Year of COVID-19 and Nationwide Protests’ with Dr. Damon Tweedy, MD, and author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine I hope to take small steps in acknowledging how I can better serve my patients and their families through recognizing and addressing biases in myself, and the healthcare system as a whole.

Reflective Statement

As 3 years at UNC-Chapel Hill come to a close I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given to foster my passion for physical therapy and serving my future patients. While I am still unsure of the exact direction that my clinical career will head I am confident that I have the foundational skills to succeed with any position or patient population. While having clinical interests across a wide variety of physical therapy specialty areas has seemed daunting over the last year in preparation for licensure and searching for job opportunities; I also realize that I can see myself working in a variety of settings because I enjoy and am well prepared to be a successful clinician in any of these areas thanks to the UNC professors, adjunct faculty, and my classmates.

I am extremely excited to begin my clinical career and work with patients to improve their mobility and quality of life daily. I think COVID-19 and quarantine made us all self-reflect on our priorities and the things that bring us joy. For me, it reiterated my passion for working with people and helping others live their best, most fulfilling, and independent lives. During my last clinical rotation in the inpatient rehabilitation setting, I have been reminded of the importance of mobility for function and the important role we can serve as physical therapists during a patient’s rehabilitation process. Thank you to the faculty and my classmates in the class of 2021 who have shaped my educational experience and future clinical practice!

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “McGovern, Heather”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 02 Jun 2021 at 2:27 pm

    Heather: Thanks for your hard work on your portfolio. It is great to see your hard work and examples of what you have accomplished. What a year with COVID! Nice to see you were able to turn the experiences into learning and growth. Great job and good luck with your next steps. Lisa


  2.   Jessica Cassidyon 07 Jun 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Heather- Your portfolio is quite impressive and is evidence that you made the most of your three years at UNC. I’m sure we’ll be in touch with the Covid-19 manuscript and potential CSM submission. Best of luck to you. -Jessica


Comments RSS

Leave a Reply