Apr 06 2022

Casnave, Stephanie

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Professional Goal Statement 

After graduation, I would love to work in a setting where I am able to see neurological and/or geriatric patients. It would be nice to find a position where I am able to float between both inpatient and outpatient as it would allow me to remain abreast of techniques and important things to consider when treating patients throughout their rehab course. I have ensured to seek out a multitude of opportunities to improve my knowledge and skills and was honored to become a UNC Neuro STEP UP Scholar. Here, my co-scholar and I received specialized training and mentorship in neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Throughout my clinical experiences and time with the scholarship program, I also learned that I would love to spend time working in underserved areas as there is a great need for specialized neuro care in these areas. I will ensure to continue to sharpen and hone my skill set through receiving additional certifications, specialties and attending continuing education courses that support and expand my knowledge in neurological and geriatric patients. I plan to do so through staying connected with the university and Neuro STEP UP Program to serve as a mentor to others, and eventually passing this knowledge to students of my own in the clinical and academic setting. I also am very passionate about improving diversity and inclusion within the program and profession and have worked closely with leaders and my peers to start initiatives to improve outreach, engagement and support and hope to continue this work throughout my career.

Academic Career 

  • December 2018: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology- Louisiana State University
  • August 2019-2022: Doctor of Physical Therapy- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Electives (Fall 2021)
      • Teaching Assistant for Neuromuscular 1
      • Spanish for Health Professionals
      • Research Elective in ReGain Lab on gait mechanics in PD for capstone
    • Capstone
      • Assessing Limb Propulsion and Gait Kinetics Using Resistance in Early-Stage Parkinson’s Disease
    • Neuro STEP UP Scholarship Program Scholar
    • Certifications
      • LSVT BIG April 2021
    • Future Plans
      • Become a clinical instructor
      • Continue involvement in the university and Neuro STEP UP Program through mentorship and guest lecturing or teaching assisting
      • Obtain Neurological Clinical Specialty and/or Geriatric Clinical Specialty
      • Continue to attend continuing education seminars on neuro topics
      • Seek leadership and professional development opportunities from my job
      • Obtain adjunct teaching position at local DPT program

Clinical Affiliations 

  • UNC Spine Center (8 weeks)- Outpatient orthopedics in Chapel Hill, NC
  • UNC Clinical Rehabilitative Center (8 weeks)- Outpatient neurological in Chapel Hill, NC
  • Central Carolina Hospital (8 weeks) – General Acute Underserved in Sanford, NC
  • Duke University Hospital (12 weeks)- Acute Neuro Step-Down and ICU in Durham, NC


  • Strengths
    • Seeking additional learning opportunities to improve my clinical decision making and knowledge
    • Treating holistically and implementing ideals from the ICF model
    • Seeking out and implementing constructive feedback
    • Evaluating and treating patients with Parkinson’s, stroke and other neurological conditions
    • Adapting communication skills based on audience
    • Experience working on interdisciplinary team to improve patient outcomes
  • Areas for Professional Development
    • Improving my confidence working with conditions I have limited experience in
    • Improving my ability to critically appraise evidence to determine clinical relevance and applicability
    • Improve Spanish proficiency to be able to connect with and serve more patients
    • Becoming more active in PT-related advocacy

Professional Objectives 

  • Pass NPTE July 2022
  • Graduate from UNC-CH DPT Program July 2022
  • Gain employment as a licensed PT in a neuro or geriatric setting where mentor ship and professional development opportunities are available September 2022
  • Obtain re-certification in LSVT BIG April 2023
  • Obtain PWR! Certification September 2023
  • Obtain MSCS certification February 2024
  • Obtain neurologic clinical specialty or geriatric clinical specialty depending on setting September 2024
  • Obtain adjunct teaching position 2027
  • Serve as mentor and advocate for DEI throughout career

Specific Strategies 

  • Adhere to a detailed, yet flexible study plan for the NPTE
  • Continue involvement in the university and Neuro STEP UP Program through mentorship and guest lecturing or teaching assisting
  • Work for a company the supports continuing education to receive mentorship and funding for various certifications
  • Join professional organizations and committee committed to improving DEI
  • Attend continuing education courses that will support me in obtaining various certifications

Justice, Equity and Inclusion Reflection 

As head of the Diversity committee in the SPTA I had the opportunity to work closely with faculty, peers, and community members on initiatives to improve DEI in our program and throughout the allied health profession. Through our efforts, we were able to launch the Mentor Match Program which is committed to connecting students with clinicians based on clinical interests, setting or location. We were able to evolve the program into something great that I hope will continue for years to come. Also, I had the opportunity to participate in the planning of various outreach and partnership programs with local HBCUs as well as other disciplines within the allied health programs at UNC to improve awareness of various professions as well as recruitment of minority students. These experiences were very rewarding as it helped me connect with faculty and students that are just as passionate and committed to DEI efforts. Additionally, it helped me to realize how much support we really have here at UNC which I am proud to call my alma mater. I hope to continue my work in DEI after I graduate by joining committees in the workplace and working closely with UNC faculty and staff in any way that I can. I also plan to serve as a mentor in the Mentor Match Program as well as informally so students who look like me, recognize they too can achieve this dream.

Academic Products 

  • Capstone– Assessing Limb Propulsion and Gait Kinetics Using Resistance in Early-Stage Parkinson’s Disease
  • Critically Appraised Topic – In individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, is resisted gait training or LSVT BIG more effective in improving step length?


Throughout the course of the program, I have grown tremendously both as a clinician and as a person. I remember the first few semesters thinking how impossible it was to retain all of the information we were learning and always wanting a concrete answer. Now, I recognize the true meaning and rationale behind “it depends,” as every patient, healthcare team and situation you will encounter in clinic will be unique in its own way. I’ve learned to take comfort in the fact that it’s okay not to know absolutely everything, but at least know where to look or who to ask for advice.

As I embark on my career journey, I am excited for what’s to come and all of the learning I still have left to do. I know I want to work with neurological or geriatric patients still deciding between inpatient and outpatient. I think there are pros and cons to both, so finding a position where I am able to do a little bit of both would be amazing. After gaining more experience, I would like to sit for the GCS or NCS and continue to seek out additional certifications and learning opportunities. Utilizing this knowledge, I’d love to start working with students both in clinic and in the classroom through assisting with labs or guest lecturing. I eventually hope to utilize this as a steppingstone to a part-time adjunct faculty position that still allows me to practice in clinic. As a long-term goal, I eventually hope to open my own practice to serve as a wellness center for neurological and geriatric patients.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Casnave, Stephanie”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 15 Jun 2022 at 11:30 am

    Congratulations on all you have accomplished! It has been wonderful to see you grow through the program and especially with Neuro STEP UP. I know you will do a lot to serve your community and the profession. We will look forward to using you as a mentor for future students. Congrats to you! Lisa


  2.   Mike Lewekon 29 Jun 2022 at 5:05 pm

    It has been such a pleasure to work with you and Emily this past year. You are on such a great trajectory and I can’t wait to hear about all the awesome things you do. Your research project this past year was outstanding and I hope it provided you with a good foundation for considering how knowledge in our profession comes about.
    Great job!


  3.   Jessica Cassidyon 18 Jul 2022 at 11:00 am


    Between your research project and your work in STEP UP, you’ve had quite the productive time at UNC! I cannot express how wonderful it was interacting with you at VLT meetings, journal clubs, and one-on-one STEP UP meetings. Your ability to balance everything was inspiring to witness. I wish you nothing but the very best.




  4.   Jessica Cassidyon 18 Jul 2022 at 11:04 am


    Between your research capstone project and your work in STEP UP, you’ve had quite the productive time at UNC! It has been a pleasure interacting with you through VLT meetings, journal clubs, and our one-on-one STEP UP meetings. Your ability to balance everything has been inspiring to witness. Best of luck to you and congratulations.




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