Apr 06 2022

Ballard, Caroline

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Professional Goal Statement

Upon graduation from the UNC Chapel Hill DPT program, my goal is to be equipped with the knowledge and passion required to begin my career as an entry level PT. My interest has been peaked in acute and subacute care as well as neurologic rehabilitation across the continuum of care.  I also have a passion for the geriatric population and hope to find a fit where potentially all of these interests intersect.  I will be moving to Columbus, OH after graduation where I hope to obtain employment with one of the numerous hospital systems such as the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center in an acute care capacity.  I hope by working in such a large system I will be able to reach patients with diverse backgrounds from across Ohio coming to seek quality and specialty care.  Regardless of my place of employment, my goal is to continue being a life-long learner and to provide the highest quality of care to my patients.

Career Plan and Objectives

  • Past
    • April 2019: Defended Undergraduate Honors Thesis: Comparison of Muscle and Bone Characteristics and Stretch-Shortening Cycle Capabilities Between Individuals With and Without Chronic Ankle Instability
    • May 2019: Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology and minor in Chemistry
    • August 2019: Matriculated in UNC Chapel Hill’s DPT program
    • January 2020- March 2020: Personal aide for community member with advanced Multiple Sclerosis
    • February 2020 to February 2021: SHAC PT Triage member
    • February 2020 to February 2021: SPTA Networking Committee Chair
    • December 2021 to present: Personal aide for community member with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia
    • Clinical Education Experiences
      • UNC Wellness Center | Cary, NC: October 2020 to December 2020 (8 weeks)
      • Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center | Wilmington, NC: March 2021 to April 2021 (8 weeks)
      • Sports and More by Access Physical Therapy and Wellness | Smithfield, NC: April 2021 to June 2021 (8 weeks)
      • UNC Center for Rehabilitation Care | Chapel Hill, NC: May 2022 to July 2022 (12 weeks)
    • Elective Coursework
      • Advanced Orthopedic Assessment, Fall 2021
      • Introductory Spanish for Healthcare Providers, Fall 2021
      • NC Service Learning through Tyrell County, Spring 2022
    • Capstone Project
      • The Role of the Acute Care Physical Therapist
      • Intended to be integrated into PHYT 720 coursework
      • Products including: Voicethread lecture, Lab Values reference document, Mock Chart Review Activity
  • Present
    • August 2019 to present: Member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and APTA North Carolina
  •  Future
    • July 2022: Achieve a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Examination to obtain licensure in North Carolina
    • July 2022: Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill’s DPT program
    • August 2022: Obtain full-time employment in an acute or neurologic rehabilitative care setting with opportunities for mentorship and continued education
    • 2023: Obtain LSVT BIG certification to further knowledge about evidence-based intervention for patients with Parkinson’s Disease
    • 2023: Obtain PRN employment at a skilled nursing facility to gain more experience working with the geriatric population
    • 2024: Become a credentialed clinical instructor who facilitates hands-on learning experiences of student physical therapists
    • 2024: Record 1000 direct patient care hours to be applied towards a specialty certification and take the corresponding examination (NCS or GCS)
    • 2027: Seek opportunities to be involved with educating local future physical therapists through guest lectures, lab assistantships or adjunct professorship

Specific Strategies

  • Develop and adhere to study plans for board preparation during Spring and Summer 2022
  • Demonstrate entry-level performance of all items on CPI at final assessment of 2022 clinical rotation
  • Network with Ohio State Medical Center Rehabilitation Manager and other professionals in Columbus to work towards obtaining employment
  • Seek mentorship opportunities through my employer or APTA to continue developing my specific interests and receiving meaningful feedback and advice.
  • Participate in continuing education courses to stay up to date on current evidence-based practice in content areas that are interesting to me and relevant to my place of employment


  • Strengths
    • Effective use of appropriate forms of communication to develop professional relationships with peers, colleagues and patients.
    • Desire to seek feedback from appropriate sources to further my clinical expertise and improve therapeutic interventions.
    • A compassionate approach to patient care that limits bias and consistently encourages self-reflection.
    • Open mind to various clinical settings and experiences to allow for growth within the profession across a full career.
  • Areas for Professional Development
    • Developing and maintaining relationships with other health care providers as sources of referrals or interdisciplinary perspectives on patient care.
    • Expand clinical knowledge of evaluation and treatment of diverse and complex patient conditions and presentations.
    • Advocacy and community outreach to promote physical therapy on a local, state and federal level.
    • Involvement in public health and wellness opportunities to provide care to those who are uninsured.
    • Further research into appropriate coding and billing practices based on geographic location, reimbursement policies and payors.

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Reflection

One of the most impactful exercises I participated in during the program was in our readings and discussions for the Psychosocial Aspects of Disability and Illness course in the first semester.  We read Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People and discussed the importance of both recognizing and managing implicit bias in our personal lives and future practice as physical therapists.  Part of this experience forced us to actively identify our biases by participating in various Implicit Association Tests developed by Harvard University.  This was an eye-opening experience for me because while I consider myself to have good morals and values, I was able to identify some unintentional biases I may have been perpetuating through my speech and behavior.  Ever since that moment I have made a conscious effort to examine my interactions with patients in a different way and strive to be more inclusive with the language I use constantly.

In the year 2020, turbulence surfaced and manifested itself in many ways.  While contemplating the experience of minority groups in this country, I decided I needed to do everything in my power in a healthcare setting to make sure patient care is not a place that individuals experience discrimination.  I read a book called Just Medicine by Dayna Bowen Matthew to educate myself more on this issue and how systemic racism affects our patients in their access to quality healthcare.  Unfortunately, the disparities related to healthcare access are often along racial and socioeconomic lines and it is even more important now than ever to break up this cycle with a fresh wave of culturally competent providers in our healthcare system.  My takeaways include the importance of examining and managing my own biases as well as advocating for my patients at a facility, local and federal level.  I plan to have pointed conversations about cultural competency with my future clinical students when we have opportunities to treat diverse patients, speak up about biases and discrimination I see in my workplace and be active in APTA initiatives to increase diversity in our field as well as advocate for our patients’ access to quality care.


Reflective Statement

When reflecting back on the beginning of my time in the UNC DPT program in August 2019, it seems like eons ago, yet time has passed so quickly.  Our class of 32 became 30 in the course of a couple months, we saw each other every day for 9+ hours, we worked hard and learned from each other and our faculty and progressed through the curriculum as intended until March 13, 2020.  What was supposed to be an extended spring break turned into a worldwide pandemic, claiming the lives of millions and wreaking havoc on our normal routines and schedules.  In the midst of the tragedy, existential dread, and nationwide polarization over numerous social justice issues, we the Class of 2022, continued our doctoral educations.  With the unending support of our faculty and work behind the scenes that we don’t even know about, we were able to continue to learn and grow in our efforts to become members of the profession of Physical Therapy.  This was and is a daunting and challenging task at every turn, with every change in guidelines and class structures, to keep up with the rigor of our curriculum while staying healthy and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

Despite these challenges, I have grown in my confidence as a soon to be graduate and feel I am able to appreciate the larger picture and better empathize with patients in all life situations.  The pandemic has helped me grow in my compassion towards the patients I serve and I think this perspective will carry over through the rest of my career.  I am grateful to have had the experience I did at UNC, although it is not the one any of us expected and I am proud of all of my growth and accomplishments thus far.  I was so inspired to see the resiliency displayed by my classmates and passion by my professors to continue to teach us during this time.  A huge congratulations to the Class of 2022, I can’t wait to see all that you accomplish! And of course, a THANK YOU to all of our wonderful faculty for helping to shape me into the clinician I am today.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Ballard, Caroline”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 15 Jun 2022 at 12:19 pm

    I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished. Your portfolio looks great yet I am sure this just provides an overview of what you have learned and how you have grown. I thoroughly enjoyed working with you on your Capstone and I cannot wait to put your hard work to use with the next round of students who will begin their PT journey in the fall. Thank you for all your hard work and the best of luck to you in the future! Keep in touch. Lisa


  2.   Vicki Merceron 19 Jun 2022 at 4:49 pm

    It’s wonderful to see all that you have accomplished on your UNC DPT program journey! Thank you for participating in the Tyrrell County Service Learning course – I enjoyed seeing you in action on that trip! I know you will do great things in neuro and/or geriatric PT (IMO, PTs working in those areas have the MOST fun!). Those patients in Ohio are going to be fortunate to have you as their therapist!

    Best wishes,


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