Apr 06 2022

Guard, Mikalia

Published by

Professional Goal Statement

My professional goal as a physical therapist is to provide well-rounded, evidence-based, and patient-centered care in the setting of my employment. I aim to put on-going learning at the forefront of my career and want to help progress the field of physical therapy along the way by getting involved in my community. I intend to stay in the state of North Carolina and am interested in a career working with neurologically involved adults and older adults. I am determing a target setting, but am interested in outpatient neuro, inpatient rehabiliation, and ICU care. Ultimately, I want to find a place of employment that makes me happy and offers a supportive work environment.

Career Plan

  • July 2022- Finish final clinical rotation, Sit for the NPTE, Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with my DPT
  • August/September 2022- Begin working in physical therapy in NC
  • 2023- Begin guest lectures to local DPT and/or PTA programs.
  • 2024- Serve as a clinical instructor.
  • 2030- Sit for Neurological Clinical Specialists Board Exam


  • Strengths
    • Self-driven and Motivated learner
    • Strong Leadership Qualities- leadership experience throughout undergraduate and gradute school managing large groups, leading events and program planning, and organizing initiatives.
    • Adaptive- working through a doctoral level graduate program and clinical rotations during a worldwide pandemic, pivoting to online learning.
    • Active listener
    • Personable and kind
    • Variety of clinical experience from shadowing/clinical rotations- outpatient orthopedics, home health, cardiac ICU, inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Areas for Improvement
    • Administrative clinical management- insurance, reimbursement, coverage, billing
    • Devices, adaptive equipment, and orthotic prescription and recommendations
    • APTA involvement- advocacy, conference attendance, current events/initiatives
    • Analyzing research regularly
    • Confidence in use of manual therapy and use of modalities


  • Take/Pass the National Physical Therapy Board Exam in July 2022
  • Graduate with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill July 2022
  • Secure a job as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in NC within 2 months of passing the NPTE
  • Take continuing education courses to advance my clinical skills and knowledge in an area of interest, including the Clinical Instructor courses February-May 2023
  • Begin working as a clinical instructor 2024

Strategies to Reach Goals/Objectives

  • Participate in ICE (neuro) in order to prepare for my last rotation in inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Fulfill requirement of being at a full caseload of a new graduate at my last clinical rotation.
  • Remain compliant with a set study schedule for the NPTE using tools such as Scorebuilders and Final Frontier.
  • Seek guidance from working clinicians and faculty on resources to better understand billing, insurance coverage, reimbursement, and other administrative tasks involved with working in physical therapy.
  • Actively explore research, resources, and continuing education courses to find those that will help me excel in clinical skills and fulfill clinical interests relevant to the patient populations I am treating.
  • Reach out to local DPT and PTA programs, including UNC, offering availability to help with guest lectures or to act as a community resource to current and/or future physical therapists.
  • Complete the Credential Clinical Instructor Program Level 1 and 2 certifications within 5 years of becoming a licensed clinician.

Reflection on Progress Towards Goals

While attending the UNC DPT program, I have had a goal of getting involved with activities, groups, and clubs outside of the classroom. I was able to serve as the Philanthropy Committee Chair, lead and participate in programs as a member of the Allied Health Interprofessional Students Committee which aims to promote interprofessional collaboration in Allied Health curriculum, as well as many other opportunities that fostered interprofessional education and ongoing learning. I took the Teacher Scholar course and was a TA for PHYT 720, which gave me great insight on the world of academia and sparked potential interest in pursuing this side of physical therapy in the future. At the least, it showed me that mentorship is important to me, and that I would love to be a Clinical Instructor once I am a clinician. I also took both Advanced Orthopedics and Advanced Neurological Assessment electives as I feel competence in both areas can be essential in treating patient populations of many kinds. I am currently finishing my last clinical rotation and using NPTE prep material to study for the July NPTE. I would assess that I have made strides towards some of my objectives and am working hard to make progress towards others. The variety of settings I had rotations in have allowed me to see PT in the full spectrum and appreciate each settings differences and similarities. It has also emphasized the evident fact that therapists in all settings need to work together for the good of our patients and to progress the field of physical therapy. These experiences will help me to continue growing as a clinician to reach career goals such as becoming a CI, participating in academia, and eventually sitting for the Neurological Clinical Specialist board examination. The opportunities that exist in the program, and ones that are being developed are helpful and fostering for students with many interests which I believe really helped in my academic and professional growth. I see myself as a community involved physical therapist who works with neurologically involved patients and mentors physical therapy students in the years following graduation, and I believe the UNC DPT program offered the resources and experiences necessary to help me feel confident that I will reach my future career goals.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Reflection

Major social, political, economic, and government events have occurred throughout my time in PT school. We saw major political divide, experienced a pandemic that highlighted and emphasized huge gaps in delivery and execution of care, and saw many injustices at the forefront of conversation in our country. I would often have to take breaks from watching the news because it was overwhelming to watch. I found that being informed was important, but also finding ways that I could take action meant a lot to me. I participated in reading research articles about the bias that can be conveyed through EMRs and how that can negatively the care that other clinicians provide patients. From this, I learned the importance of checking to make sure I am not unknowingly including stigmatizing language that may contribute to another clinician having bias before treating the patient. I also listened to many podcasts about identifying personal bias and the importance of assessing where your personal bias may lie and addressing them. I was able to solidify much of this information and put it into practice through clinical rotations, working with patients from many different backgrounds. I made it a point to ask patients how they feel their care could be better handled. During my rotation in home health, I was made aware we would be treating a patient who had specific needs and traditions for people entering their home based on their religion. I made sure to research how to participate in the most respectful way and asked clarifying questions to the patient and family upon arrival. In preparation for a clinical rotation involving wound care, I looked at how wounds and wound healing may present differently on skin for a person of color as I saw an article shared on social media that highlighted gaps in care for a person of color with wounds.

All of these experiences, as well as many personal conversations with friends, family, classmates, colleagues, advisors, and patients have helped me to gain a ton of knowledge about how to advocate and provide better care for patients who may be from marginalized groups, or receiving unequitable care. Going into my professional career with valuable insight from these experiences, I bring the reminder to check my bias periodically and assess what needs to be done to address any existing bias. I bring the insight that a place of work should implement diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all employees. I take the importance of respect, understanding, and active listening. And, I bring this new, and growing base of knowledge to interpersonal interactions, remembering that my learning on how to advocate and be a better physical therapist for all of my patients is never over.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Guard, Mikalia”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 05 Jun 2022 at 10:43 pm

    I am so excited to see all your hard work. What a great job you have done! I also love that the TA experienced sparked an interest in mentoring others. I could see your skill in doing that in class. You will make a great CI and who knows maybe classroom instructor down the road. Good luck with whatever the future holds. Keep in touch! Lisa


  2.   Vicki Merceron 19 Jun 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Congratulations to you as your time in the UNC DPT comes to a close! I enjoyed seeing your portfolio and reading your reflections. So glad to see your continuing interest in working with individuals with neurological disorders and eventually earning your NCS! I’m also glad to learn of your interest in teaching and mentoring. I know you’ll do a great job with whatever you decide to pursue.

    Best wishes,


Comments RSS

Leave a Reply