Apr 06 2022

Stewart, Sarah

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Professional Goal Statement

After graduating as a Doctor of Physical Therapy from UNC Chapel Hill, I plan to establish myself as a compassionate and hard-working therapist. My areas of interest include neuromuscular conditions, vestibular rehab, and geriatrics. I hope to obtain a diverse skillset of conditions and injuries which I can evaluate and treat as my interests are broad. I would like to work in a variety of settings throughout my first few years working as a clinician where I am able to develop my professional skillset and experience.


  • Take and pass the NPTE Board Exam in July 2022
  • Graduate from UNC DPT program with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree
  • Begin my first job as a licensed physical therapist
  • Advance knowledge and expertise in neurologic physical therapy by taking relevant continuing education courses and attending conferences that allow for networking in the field
  • Develop presentations and in-services to contribute to professional development and leadership skills at my place of employment
  • Advocating for the physical therapy profession by maintaining a membership with the APTA

Career Plan

  • April 2018-Present: ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
  • May 2019: Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, Minor in Sports Science; NC State University
  • August 2019-July 2022: Enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UNC Chapel Hill
    • Electives
      • Fall 2021: Advanced Neuromuscular Intervention Course
      • Spring 2022: Neuromuscular Integrated Clinical Experience at University Physical Therapy, Hillsborough, NC
      • Fall 2021: Teacher Assistant for Introduction to Physical Therapy Intervention Course
    • Clinical Education
      • October-December 2020: Acute Care Clinical Affiliation – UNC Hospital at Chapel Hill, NC
      • March-April 2021: Outpatient Ortho Clinical Affiliation – Concentra Urgent Care at Charlotte, NC
      • May-June 2021: Outpatient Neuro Clinical Affiliation – Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers at Asheville, NC
      • February-April 2022: Neuro Integrated Clinical Experience – University Physical Therapy at Chapel Hill, NC
      • May-July 2022: Inpatient Rehab Clinical Affiliation – WakeMed Hospital at Raleigh, NC
    • Capstone Project
      • May 2022: Completion of Capstone Project related to Caregiver/Patient Education for Individuals with MS
    • Activities
      • April 2020-Present: Work as a Home Health Aide providing assistance with a home exercise program for an individual with secondary progressive MS
  • July 2022: Sit for and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination
  • July 2022: Earn my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from UNC-Chapel Hill
  • August 2022: Begin career working with the neurologic population
  • 2022-2023: Obtain clinical mentorship during my first year working as a new grad physical therapist
  • 2025: Obtain vestibular rehabilitation training through continuing education courses and certification
  • 2026: Obtain CTBIS certification
  • 2027: Obtain Neurologic Certified Specialist Certification
  • 2027: Become an APTA-certified clinical instructor



  • Prioritizes effective, meaningful, and professional communication with peers, coworkers, and interdisciplinary team
  • Exudes empathy and compassion for patients while going above and beyond expectations to ensure patient safety, comfort, and quality of care
  • Maintains flexibility in order to accommodate needs of peers and patients for the benefit of the patient
  • Desires to continue learning and growing as a new grad physical therapist through peer collaboration and mentorship
  • Emphasizes importance for use of evidence based practice in clinical practice by keeping up to date with current literature in physical therapy

Areas for Professional Development

  • Continuing growth and experience in leadership positions and management skills in clinical practice
  • Developing diverse clinical experience in order to increase clinical reasoning and diversity in intervention skillset

Specific Strategies

  • Maintain and foster relationships with mentors and faculty of UNC DPT
  • Develop an effective study schedule to prepare for the NPTE
  • Seek out leadership and learning opportunities during first year as a new grad clinician
  • Maintain APTA membership and attend conferences in order to build connections within the field of physical therapy

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Beginning with my first day as a physical therapy student, UNC has paved a trail for myself and my fellow classmates to become clinicians who are educated on and advocates for diversity, justice, equity and inclusion. During our first semester, my classmates and I read Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji, a novel educating on the effects of implicit bias and brought to light my own implicit biases and how to acknowledge and manage these biases in order to maximize respect and inclusion of those who are different from yourself. Recognition of personal implicit biases leads to enhanced communication and understanding between clinicians and patients through identification of appropriate and useful language, which I find is also critical as a health care professional. The importance of the recognition of diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion both in the physical therapy profession and in health care as a whole became more and more apparent to me throughout my continued education of inequities and lack of inclusion present in our current health care system through my own personal interest in further educating myself through reading novels, listening to podcasts, and attending UNC grand rounds virtual presentations related to JEDI topics in medicine. As a clinician who will inevitably provide care to individuals who are of different backgrounds, belief systems, and cultural norms than myself, it is imperative that I self-reflect and take action to prevent these differences from impacting the quality of care I deliver, but rather understand how to incorporate diversity into the ICF model framework to improve each patient’s quality of care.

Product Examples

Reflective Statement

As I reflect on my personal journey throughout physical therapy school, the three words that come to mind are resiliency, passion, and growth. I entered graduate school with a strong passion for the profession of physical therapy with a diverse exposure to several different settings of physical therapy practice. As I progressed through the coursework, this passion only grew as I began to recognize the impact physical therapy can have on an individual during my clinical rotations. Each clinical rotation experience throughout the program contributed to the development of my clinical reasoning and refined my hands on skills in a variety of settings across different regions of NC. Additionally, the development of my capstone project and other major projects and presentations helped me to gain unmatched leadership and communication skills through collaboration with peers, mentors, members of the community, and interdisciplinary members of the health care team. Facing life as a graduate student during a global pandemic inherently introduced several new challenges to learning for myself and my peers which ultimately resulted in learned self-accountability, appreciation for peer and mentor support, continuous flexibility, and persistence through challenges that seem impossible. Each of these characteristics to me exemplifies the definition of resilience, which I have noted to be a unique strength that has carried over into clinical practice during experiences on clinical rotations. Finally, I recognize the immense amount of growth I have experienced as an individual both personally and professionally over my graduate school experience. I anticipate my early career over the next several years to include ongoing professional growth in clinical reasoning and decision-making skills as well as refining my skillset as current evidence-based practice continues to change and improve in this profession.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Stewart, Sarah”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 15 Jun 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Congrats to you! Wow it is nice to see all you have done and your goals for the future. It has been a pleasure to see you progress over your time here. I especially enjoyed having you in class with me as a TA where I could really see you emerge as a mentor and leader. You have a bright future ahead of yourself. Enjoy and good luck! Lisa


  2.   Vicki Merceron 19 Jun 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Congratulations on all you have accomplished in the past 3 years! I very much enjoyed working with you in the clinic and on your capstone project, and I’m excited to see where your PT career will take you. I know you’ll do great things!

    Best wishes,


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