Dec 03 2020

Richardson, Sarah

Published by

Professional Goal Statement

I want to be a physical therapist that serves their community through safe, nondiscriminatory, and educated medical experiences centered around affirming and person-centered approaches.  I believe that all individuals, regardless of gender identity, sexual identity, age, or background should live safe and healthy lives that are unencumbered by pain or dysfunction. That is why I am passionate about pursuing a career in pelvic floor physical therapy so that I can help combat the stigma and normalization of bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction. Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), I will be participating in UPMC’s women’s health physical therapy residency program to further advance my clinical skills. Through the residency program, I hope to experience expert mentorship, establish a strong professional network, become a certified lymphedema therapist, and eventually obtain my women’s health specialist certification. I aspire to take my passions for pelvic health and lymphedema and serve as a mentor for future professionals as a clinical instructor and eventually an adjunct professor for an accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Career Plan

Past Experience

  • May 2017: Graduated from UNC-CH with a BA in Psychology and Exercise Sport Science and minor in Spanish for the Medical Professions
  • August 2017 – April 2018: Group Fitness Intern for Campus Recreation at UNC-CH
  • April 2018 – August 2018: Fitness and Tennis Manager for Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club in Cashiers, NC.
  • August 2018 – July 2021: Enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at UNC-CH School of Medicine
    • Electives:
      • Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Trip to Tyrrell County 
      • Advanced Orthopedic Assessment and Intervention 
      • Teaching Assistant for Introduction to PT Examination and Intervention 
      • Integrated Clinical Experience with a mixed neurological and orthopedic caseload 
    • Capstone: Understanding Bowel, Bladder and Sexual Function in a Neurologic Population: The Role of the Physical Therapist – an adaptation of the online study unit within the Neuromuscular Intervention II coursework

Future Plans 

  • July 2021: Earn Doctor of Physical Therapy from UNC-CH
  • July 2021: Sit for National Physical Therapy Examination
  • August 2021: Begin Women’s Health Residency at UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2022:
    • Successfully complete Women’s Health Residency at UPMC
    • Obtain CLT-LANA certification to become a certified lymphedema therapist
    • Obtain Women’s Health Specialist Certification (WCS)
    • Obtain full-time employment with a mixed pelvic health and lymphedema caseload
  • 2023: Become an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor; take on my first student
  • 2023 and beyond:
    • Guest lecture for an accredited DPT program
    • Gain an adjunct faculty position for an accredited DPT program

Clinical Affiliations

  • UNC Rockingham (8 weeks); Eden, NC – Acute Care
  • Drayer Physical Therapy Institute (2 weeks due to COVID-19); Raleigh, NC – Outpatient Neurological & Aquatic Therapy 
  • Integrated Clinical Experience (6 weeks); Hillsborough, NC – Outpatient Orthopedics and Neurological 
  • Ambulatory Care Center (9 weeks); Chapel Hill, NC – Outpatient Orthopedics & Aquatic Therapy 
  • UNC Hospitals (12 weeks); Durham, NC – Pelvic Health and Lymphedema 


  • Herman & Wallace Parkinson Disease and Pelvic Rehabilitation
  • Herman & Wallace Pelvic Floor Level 1
  • Otago Exercise Program: Falls Prevention Training
  • NASM Personal Trainer
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor
  • American Heart Association Basic Life Support (CPR & AED)

Professional Development

  • UNC Division Of Physical Therapy – Teaching Assistant for Introduction to PT Examination and Intervention
  • Allied Health Ambassadors –
    • Community Conversations Moderator 
    • Former Co-President 
    • Former Committee Chair for “Showcase for a Cause” 2019 & 2020
    • Former Event Organizer for “Difference Matters” 
  • Student Physical Therapy Association – Sunshine Committee Co-Chair 

Samples of Work

Self Assessment


  • Ability to build a strong therapeutic relationship with patients
  • The adaptability of my communication style to ensure a safe environment
  • Intellectual Humility
  • Relentless pursuit of lifelong learning
  • Professional fitness and managerial background

Areas of Improvement

  • Assessing and treating patients with complex neurological, orthopedic, and genitourinary conditions
  • Attendance of continuing education courses in a variety of topics outside of my particular specialty interest
  • Professional Advocacy through APTA and other professional organizations
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance

Professional Objectives

  1. Graduate with my DPT from UNC-CH in July 2021
  2. Pass National Physical Therapy Examination in July 2021
  3. Begin Women’s Health Residency at UPMC in August 2021
  4. Become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist in 2022
  5. Successfully Complete Women’s Health Residency in November 2022
  6. Obtain Women’s Health Specialist Certification in 2022
  7. Obtain a full-time job following completion of the residency

Strategies for Success

  • Create and adhere to a detailed study plan for NPTE while simultaneously completing my final clinical rotation
  • Maintain membership with APTA and Women’s Health Special Interest Group
  • Maintain professional relationships with mentors and colleagues
  • Attend interprofessional events to establish and expand professional network
  • Attend continuing education courses related to both women’s health and other specialties to gain advanced clinical insight

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Our current medical system, although improving, still contributes to and perpetuates health disparities experienced by our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and community members. I believe that a true understanding of healthcare in the United States requires grappling with the history of this country. Our country’s evolving history has caused underrepresented minorities (URMs) to experience trauma as a daily occurrence.  As a health care provider, I must understand how this may impact the physical and mental well-being of my patients and colleagues. To deny that racism, homophobia, or other prejudices impact URMs health would be ignoring reality and failing to recognize how social determinants of health directly disadvantage and harm URMs.

I believe that in order to be a true ally, I must commit to a lifelong investment of learning and unlearning harmful history and behaviors. I must be willing to accept that I will unintentionally cause harm to others through my actions and words. I must accept accountability for my own actions while also holding others accountable for their behaviors to ensure a safer environment for all. Damon Tweedy, a physician at Duke University stated the following in an interdisciplinary zoom event: “speaking up about racism in medicine is life and death. It isn’t political philosophy. This is the reality of people’s lives”. This quote reminds me that although these conversations are difficult and solutions require tactful consideration and reconsideration, they are life or death. I feel strongly that in order to be an effective physical therapist, I must engage in this work on a frequent basis because as Tweedy shared, my patient’s lives depend on it.

Reflective Statement

It is truly unbelievable the growth and experiences I have gained in these past three years. I remember distinctly the day I was admitted into UNC’s DPT program so clearly and to think that now I am only a few months away from graduating and earning my DPT is incredible. I started out not having any idea what kind of Physical Therapist I wanted to be. After one guest lecture during my first year of PT school, I found my passion in pelvic floor physical therapy and I cannot wait to explore this passion upon graduation.

Although I am grateful for the knowledge I have gained, I am most thankful for the growth I have experienced on a personal level. I believe I have become a better person because of the challenges and experiences I have faced while pursuing my doctorate. My personal growth is in large part because of the incredible people I have been able to meet and learn from. This includes my classmates (soon-to-be colleagues), mentors, UNC DPT faculty, patients, and other community members.

It is an understatement to say that physical therapy school is a challenge. However, my friends, partner, and family were the support system I needed to get to where I am today. Thank you to every person that was a part of my experience these past three years. I will continue to grow and seek out opportunities that better me as a therapist and human being. I am eager to see where this profession takes me and will always be proud to be a Tarheel!




One response so far

One Response to “Richardson, Sarah”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 02 Jun 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Sarah: Congrats to you!! I am so happy for you and excited to see all your hard work! It has been really cool to watch your interest in pelvic health grow over time. You are going to be awesome! Thank you for all you did to support me and my class this fall. Your maturity, knowledge and professionalism showed every day. I could not have done it without you! Good luck and stay in touch!! Lisa


Comments RSS

Leave a Reply