Dec 03 2020

Sierra-Arevalo, Leslie

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Professional Goal Statement

My academic goals upon graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program include becoming a Pediatric Certified Specialist PT, and I may achieve this by either pursuing a pediatric residency or gaining mentorship and experience through a job. Additionally, I anticipate that if NICU PT continues to be my main area of interest, then I may pursue a NICU fellowship. I strive to become an outstanding clinician that treats all my patients with the utmost care and compassion, and also creates a safe and inclusive environment where I can work to positively change healthcare disparity statistics. My goal is to become an effective bilingual pediatric physical therapist who is known for their exceptional patient care, compassion, inclusiveness, and skilled abilities to obtain positive patient outcomes.


Career Plan   

May 2017: Received B.A. in Exercise and Sport Science- Athletic Training from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

June 2017: Obtained athletic training license in NC and TX

August 2018: Began DPT program at UNC-Chapel Hill

Clinical Affiliations:

  • Rotation I (8 weeks): Pivot Physical Therapy- Raleigh, NC:

Outpatient orthopedics and vestibular rehab

  • Rotation II (2 weeks- cut short due to COVID-19): WakeMed Hospital, Main- Raleigh, NC:

Acute care, cardiothoracic

  • Rotation III (8 weeks): UNC Hospital- Durham, NC:

Acute care

  • Rotation IV (12 weeks): Duke University Hospital- Durham, NC

Pediatric acute care

October 2021: Sit for National Physical Therapy Examination

Fall 2021: Begin job in pediatric setting

2022: Either continue working, or begin pediatric residency

2023: Take Pediatric Certified Specialist examination

Within the next 8 years: Have completed a pediatric residency and/or NICU fellowship, become a clinical instructor for an accredited DPT program, present lecture or poster at a PT conference




  • Compassion and empathy
  • Cultural humility and inclusiveness
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English
  • Ability to easily create patient rapport and professional relationships
  • Flexibility and ability to adapt quickly in a fast-paced environment
  • Certified and licensed athletic trainer

Areas for Further Professional Development

  • More hands-on clinical experience, particularly pediatric experience
  • Personal exploration and research into the acute pediatrics and NICU fields of PT practice. Find mentorship in these areas of interest.
  • Keeping up with research literature and the latest evidence-based practice data
  • Continue learning and improving my understanding and practice of interdisciplinary care, health disparities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for my colleagues and patients.



  • Specific areas of interest: Acute pediatrics and NICU
  • Graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill’s DPT program in July 2021
  • Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination in October 2021
  • Complete both a pediatric residency and NICU fellowship within the next 6 years
  • Obtain sufficient experience to be able to study and sit for the Pediatric Certified Specialist exam- either by work experience or a pediatric residency.


Specific Strategies

  • Diligently prepare for the NPTE by creating study plans, completing preparation materials, and reviewing previous coursework through the summer and leading up to exam date.
  • Continue volunteering as a Spanish medical interpreter, expand my medical Spanish vocabulary, and continue developing my patient interaction skills.
  • Find Latinx and Spanish-speaking physical therapists so I may expand this realm of my professional network and have a professional mentor whom I can culturally identify with
  • Upon graduation, work as a pediatric PT so that I gain more experience to put me in a more competitive place for pediatric residencies and begin accruing experience hours for the PCS exam.
  • Pursue mentorship opportunities from pediatric physical therapists.

 Elective Coursework:

Fall 2020

  • Research Experience (1 credit)
  • Child and Family Assessment and Intervention (3 credits)

Spring 2021

  • Advanced Spanish for Health Care (3 credits)


Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Participating and being a part of multiple DEI opportunities has helped me understand the extent to which health disparities and injustices within our healthcare and societal systems are experienced, though, most importantly, has demonstrated to me how much learning I still have to do. Despite being an underrepresented minority in this country and especially in healthcare, I am a privileged individual who has been fortunate enough to always have access to the resources and support I needed at any point in my life, and this is unfortunately not the experience most individuals of color experience in this country. DEI learning experiences have taught me that even being a person of color, I have so much to learn, and also so much to unlearn.

Continuing my career in healthcare will require of me not just a lifelong process of learning how to provide the best physical therapy intervention, but also how to provide unbiased, person-centered, and equitable care to every single one of my future patients. I do not for one second believe that I have learned all of these lessons in their entirety. In fact, I do not think I will ever learn these things in their entirety, because there is no “finish line” or check box for learning about social determinants of health and health disparities. It is a lifelong evolving journey that I promise to keep trekking on so that I can not only be the best physical therapist version of myself, but also the best ally, advocate, and human being I can possibly make myself out to be.

Product Examples 

Critically Appraised Topic Paper: Acceptability of translated and culturally adapted parent education materials for Spanish-speaking parents or caregivers

Pediatric Annual Exam 

Positioning Strategies for Infant with Hypotonia Parent Handout


It is truly difficult to put into words the amount of growth I have experienced these last three years. I obviously anticipated gaining lots of knowledge about PT, abundant manual skills, and learning how to become an effective physical therapist, but I don’t think I ever could have quite anticipated how much I have grown as a human.

Physical therapy school has presented countless challenges and has brought with it many tears and stress, but more importantly, it has brought unbelievable experiences that have taught me how to be more inclusive, more caring, a better listener, and overall taught me how to continue growing both as a PT and as a person for the future. During these three years, I have learned about my strengths, my weaknesses, and discovered things about myself that I’m not sure I ever would have otherwise. I have solidified that my absolute moments of joy are when I am working with the pediatric population, and I can’t wait to pursue a physical therapist career specializing in pediatrics.

This journey could not have been possible without the constant support from my partner, my family, old friends, and new friends. They were always there to celebrate the good outcomes and always there to provide sanity, perspective, and a shoulder to cry on whenever I needed.

To the DPT faculty and staff, clinical instructors, mentors, and all of my patients, thank you all for being willing to teach me, guide me, and provide constant mentorship and educational experiences throughout these three years. Because of you all, I am excited to enter the “real” world and take all of my learning and experiences to become the best physical therapist I can be.

Forever and always proud to be a Tar Heel.

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