Dec 03 2020

Zimmer, Hannah

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Professional Goal Statement

My goal is to become a well-rounded, self-aware, and confident clinician through lifelong learning, professional development, and mentorship. I plan to further develop my physical therapy skills and professional toolbox through the completion of my third year in the UNC DPT program to become a successful entry-level clinician upon graduation.  I hope to practice in an outpatient ortho/neuro clinic for the VA Healthcare system at the start of my career. Ideally, this will occur at the Durham VA, where the PT department is working hard to optimize direct access care for veterans and decrease wait times for appointments, reducing the need for veteran care in the community. This job will fulfill my commitment to the VA Healthcare System as the culmination of my participation in the Health Professional Scholarship Program.

Graduating as a generalist, I plan to begin my PT practice by deepening my knowledge base and understanding of both neurologic and orthopedic patient cases before ultimately specializing in one of the two areas. In my PT practice, I plan to utilize evidence-based interventions to provide optimal care, while also developing therapeutic relationships with my patients in order to help them achieve their goals.


Career Plan

Previous Experience

  • May 2018: Graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, concentration in Exercise Science and Health Promotion
  • January 2017-July 2018: PT Aide at React Physical Therapy in Chicago, IL
  • August 2018-2021: Enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


  • Advanced Orthopedic Assessment and Treatment
  • Topics in Sports Physical Therapy
  • Teaching Assistant for Musculoskeletal I: Physical Therapy Intervention
  • Integrated Clinical Experience with an orthopedic caseload

Future Plans

  • July 2021: sit for and pass National Physical Therapy Examination
  • July 2021: Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with Doctorate of Physical Therapy
  • October 2021: Begin a job through the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, preferably in an outpatient ortho/neuro combination role
  • 2021 and beyond: Join and maintain APTA membership
  • 2021 and beyond: Join and maintain active involvement in state-level professional organization
  • 2021 and beyond: Maintain a posture of lifelong learning, seeking active opportunities for continuing education and professional development
  • 2021 and beyond: Seek out a formal mentor at my place of employment and/or specific area of interest in the community
  • 2023 and beyond: Become an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor and mentor my first student
  • 2023: Sit for and pass the Orthopedic of Neurologic Clinical Specialist Exam
  • October 2024: Complete VA service obligation, determine whether to continue employment with the VA or transition into private practice or another PT setting

Clinical Affiliations

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital (8 weeks) | Elkin, NC | Acute Care

Pivot Physical Therapy (2 weeks) | Cary, NC | Outpatient Orthopedic and Aquatics

Integrated Clinical Experience (6 weeks) | Durham, NC | Outpatient Orthopedics

Pivot Physical Therapy (9 weeks) | Cary, NC | Outpatient Orthopedic and Aquatics

Durham VA Medical Center (12 weeks) | Durham, NC | Outpatient Neurologic


Samples of Work

Capstone Project:  Aquatic Therapy for Amputees

Advanced Orthopedic Final Paper: Shoulder Tendon Injuries in Swimmers- Risk Factors, Treatment, and Prevention

Critically Appraised Topic: Lower Extremity Amputation and Aquatic Therapy vs. Land-Based Therapy

Community Based Program Proposal: Amp’d for Parkinson’s



  • Strengths:
    • Professional curiosity in the areas of study and practice that interest and challenge me
    • Compassionate towards and ability to build therapeutic rapport with a variety of patients
    • Effective and efficient communication with colleagues and patients, adjusting strategies based on the audience and requirements for learning
    • Enthusiasm and thirst for learning and further development of physical therapy skills and clinical reasoning
  • Areas for improvement:
    • Professional confidence in hands-on skills and clinical decision making
    • Involvement in professional organizations and advocacy at the state and national levels
    • Seeking out new evidence-based interventions for complex patients


Professional Objectives

  • Graduate with a generalized education in physical therapy on July 31, 2021
  • Pass the National Physical Therapy Licensure Exam in July 2021
  • Begin my first full time job in the VA Healthcare System in October 2021
  • Gain professional insight and advice from formal and informal mentors in the early years of my career, beginning in 2021
  • Obtain an Orthopedic or Neurologic Clinical Specialist Certification in 2023


Specific Strategies

  • Develop and adhere to a detailed study plan for successful completion of the NPTE
  • Reach Entry Level status on the CPI by the completion of my final rotation at the Durham VA outpatient neurologic clinic to be best prepared to serve my future patients as a licensed physical therapist
  • Attend and participate in inter-professional learning opportunities to continue to develop professional toolbox and understanding of resources for future patients.
  • Maintain professional relationships with mentors, faculty members, previous clinical instructors, and classmates.


Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

In the past year, the racial disparities in healthcare (and political, financial, and social systems in general) in our nation have been highlighted, and many students and healthcare professional have become aware of their own biases in learning and practice. I have become aware of my own personal biases, and have explored practices to mitigate these biases and provide fair and equal treatment to individuals of all backgrounds.

Last year, I worked with a small committee of students and faculty members to brainstorm ideas and develop plans to improve the efforts of UNC’s Division of Physical Therapy to reach underrepresented minority students. It was small work, but a meaningful start to the journey of changing current systems that primarily benefit people who look like me, many of my classmates, and my professors. I believe that maintaining a posture of cultural humility and curiosity will help me best serve patients who identify with varied cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds. When reading Ijeoma Oluo’s  bestseller, “So You Want to Talk About Race”, I was reminded of the idea that we are all the product of our lived experiences, which includes the lens of our racial (and religious, cultural, gender, and sexual) identities (15). Because we do not leave these identities at the door, these identities interact with the situations we experience, including interactions with healthcare providers (Oluo 15). In order to be a successful physical therapist, I must develop a therapeutic alliance with my patients and create meaningful change in my patients’ lives, which starts with acknowledging their lived experiences and working hard to improve the existing systems which so often provide inadequate care to diverse patient populations. Continuing to seek learning opportunities, being honest about my shortcomings and biases, and being willing to have uncomfortable conversations will help me deliver high quality care to diverse populations and will give me a role in changing the way our healthcare system relates to underrepresented minority patients.

Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk about Race. Seal Press, 2020.


Reflective Statement

My areas of interest are a bit diverse, which is equally exciting and intimidating. I thoroughly enjoy the outpatient orthopedic setting and aquatic therapy for a variety of populations. I am particularly interested in amputee care, and I’ve learned a lot about this throughout my capstone project and in my outpatient neuro clinical rotation this year. I like the variety that comes with orthopedic practice, the functional focus of neurologic practice, and am energized by the meaningful change that occurs in patients’ lives through outpatient physical therapy in general.

While I don’t know exactly which setting I will ultimately work in upon graduation, I am excited by the possibilities on the horizon as this program comes to a close. My time in UNC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program has challenged me, encouraged me, and provided me with many opportunities for personal and professional development. I am proud of the resilience my classmates and I have shown, especially over the past year with the changes and uncertainty surrounding our education and profession due to the ongoing pandemic.

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow during my time here at UNC. To my classmates, the faculty, and my family—thank you for your endless support and kindness, and for making the past 3 years unforgettable. You inspire me to be a better student, clinician, and friend, and I know I wouldn’t be in this place today without each of you. Congratulations, Class of 2021!


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Zimmer, Hannah”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 02 Jun 2021 at 3:16 pm

    Hannah: Great job on your portfolio! Nice to see all your work. Diverse interests can be a great thing, lots of paths for you in the future. Regardless of which or how many paths you take, you will do great things. Congrats and good luck! Lisa


  2.   Michael Lewekon 10 Jun 2021 at 12:06 pm

    You pulled together a wonderful portfolio which really showcases your diverse interests, experiences, and expertise. You are well prepared to do whatever you want after graduation. The VA will be lucky to have you.


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