Apr 06 2022

Thomas, Daniel

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Professional Goal Statement

Upon graduating from the UNC-Chapel Hill Doctor of Physical Therapy program, I plan to seek employment in an outpatient orthopedic setting in which I can utilize my clinical skills learned throughout my education and combine them with my own passion for triathlon, exercise and previous degree in exercise physiology to provide superior care to those that are seeking to reduce pain, combat dysfunction and improve their quality of movement for sport or life. My ideal setting is one in which I can provide care to patients from a variety of backgrounds and all walks of life that are aiming to improve their fitness and become the best version of themselves to live their own life to the fullest.

Career Plan

  • Past Accomplishments
    • May 2011: Bachelor of Art in Art and Art history
    • May 2013: Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology
    • August 2019: Enrollment in Class of 2022 UNC DPT Program
      • Clinical Affiliation
        • Clinical 1: Acute Care – UNC Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC: Jul-Aug 2020 (8 weeks)
        • Clinical 2: Outpatient Neuro – Sentra Halifax Regional Medical Center, South Boston, VA (Underserved): Mar-Apr 2021 (8 weeks)
        • Clinical 3: Outpatient Orthopedic – Ortho NC, Raleigh NC: Apr-Jun 2021 (8 weeks)
        • Clinical 4: Outpatient Orthopedic – Sports and More, Cary, NC: May-Jul 2022 (12 weeks)
  • Future Goals
    • Less than 1 year
      • Graduate from UNC DPT program July 2022
      • Pass NPTE July 2022
      • Obtain employment in outpatient orthopedic setting as a Physical Therapist
    • 1-3 years
      • Formulate running club at future clinic to create a positive culture and community outreach
      • Pursue continuing education for running analysis and running related injuries
    • 3-10 years
      • Obtain employment in clinic specializing in running and endurance related sports injuries and wellness
      • Become a certified clinical instructor
      • Pursue dry needling certification
    • 10+ years
      • Pursue OCS exam
      • Consider operating and owning personal business


  • Strengths
    • Open to constructive criticism and seeks feedback on areas of weakness to improve
    • Extensive knowledge of exercise physiology and systems adaptations
    • Knowledge of strength and conditioning principles
    • Personable, honest and accountable
    • Passion for educating self and others to better the field of physical therapy and patient lives
  • Areas for Professional Development
    • Improve ability to navigate and balance professional duties and personal interests to prevent burnout
    • Seek a mentor to learn new skillsets and/or challenge my own beliefs
    • Continuously return to reviewing physical therapy basics to strengthen foundation for future learning
    • Pursue certifications and continuing education in area of endurance sports to progress future career
    • Become more involved in volunteering and giving back to my local community or programs


  • Graduate from the UNC DPT program
  • Pass the NPTE and become a licensed physical therapist in North Carolina
  • Obtain employment in outpatient clinic by end of October 2022
  • Obtain OCS certification
  • Consider possible future PhD education

Specific Strategies

  • Develop and execute study schedule for successful completion of the NPTE
  • Continue to read literature in areas of both interests and weaknesses to strengthen clinical abilities
  • Further build and maintain relationships with previous faculty, mentors and clinical instructors
  • Seek mentorship from an experienced physical therapist upon future employment
  • Utilize last clinical rotation to sharpen and refine skills and expose weaknesses for continued development
  • Maintain certifications for other organizations (i.e.- NSCA C.S.C.S.)
  • Maintain membership in professional organizations (i.e.-APTA)
  • Seek continuing education opportunities to strengthen abilities of examination, treatment and prognosis of lower extremity injuries.
  • Collect data, resources, mentorship and educate self for possible future business ownership

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Electives

  • PHYT 874: Topics in Sport Physical Therapy
    • Presentation on Return to Running Postpartum
  • PHYT 800: TA Scholar Program
    • Presentation on Placebo/Nocebo and Patient Provider Relationships
  • PHYT 875: Advanced Orthopedic Assessment and Intervention

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  • The Most Sacred Right– Fredrick Douglas
  • (https://www.npr.org/2020/10/02/919532810/the-most-sacred-right)
    • The NPR podcast humbled me in the naivety of my memory of history. The podcast follows and tells the life of Fredrick Douglas in regard to inequities, changing political and social landscapes and above all, the right to vote for all citizens, including those of color. The reason I say I was naïve is that I feel the history and proceedings of the not so distant past are often easily forgotten. The events that have occurred in the recent half decade are sometimes an eerie mirror image of those times that we have believed to progressed away from. We have witnessed social and political injustices and our system appears to be tearing at the seams. My hope is that often in great turmoil there is also hope for abundant change. In living through our own times of unrest and hearing those of the past, it forces retrospection into how I want to be a part of this system. As I have learned throughout the curriculum of the DPT program, whether I activity choose to be a part of policy in realms of politics, healthcare or other, or  if I decide to actively step aside and claim neutrality, I am still making a decision that will influence myself and others. There are a few people throughout history that if it were not for their influence, change would not occur. I believe that is what “The Most Sacred Right” reminded me. In my professional career, both inside physical therapy and out, if I want to see change, sometimes I will have to be that voice. Many of us sit idly by as we watch others or ourselves become abused, broken, disheartened or burnt out. The world is filled with enough injustice, and it needs more voices to defend what is right.
  • Reflections of Race and Medicine in the Year of COVID-19 and Nationwide Protests – Damon Tweedy, MD
  • (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xyadm9Mhqk)
    • The webinar provide by Dr. Tweedy covered many topics expanding across his experiences as an African American navigating biases throughout his life and unfortunate encounters with law enforcement in which his color influenced impressions unjustly. However, what resonated the most was his discussions on interactions between medical providers and patients and the subsequent documentation that may follow. This has created a new dialog in my mind during each patient interaction throughout clinical rotations and in my future career. For example, the words I use can have powerful effects on following providers or others in an interdisciplinary team as to the quality of services that a patient may receive. If I describe a patient as apathetic, was it truly that they were, or rather, was the patient depressed? Were they untrusting of me as a provider? Yet, if I use words of apathy, do following providers now have a picture that this patient simply does not care about their own health? Sure, the saying is “actions are louder than words,” but words too are powerful. It has taught me to be thoughtful about what I write. Secondly, the discussion forced me to attempt seeing an interaction from the patient’s point of view. I frequently try to leave my own biases and opinions at the door, but did the patient? Does the color of my own skin influence the way someone sees me. I would argue that the most important part of my job as a physical therapist is building trust and being honest. Without trust, a patient may not be compliant. Without honesty, the patient questions my own abilities but also their abilities to succeed. In order to build these, I think we need to have to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. We have to ask difficult questions, and we have to acknowledge our own limits. I think if we can do these and be kind, we can build a stronger patient-provider relationship, mutual trust, success for the patient and a stronger future for our system.

Example Products

Reflective statement 

  • The past 3 years within the UNC-Chapel Hill Doctor of Physical Therapy program has, as expected, flown by. I believe the recent cohorts of the program have been tried and tested more than previous years. Beyond the demands of the curriculum, we all have been exposed to a demanding and ever changing political, medical and social landscapes. Navigating this has required much more than the obtainment of knowledge, memorization of facts or application of skill. It has forced us to think on our feet, take in the perspective of others and be willing to adapt and change. The program, my peers, professors and mentors have all challenged me, supported me and in the end, fostered vast personal growth. The thought of going back to school and leaving my previous career was a daunting idea but making it to where I am today was a dream of mine. I hope that those that have grown to know me throughout the program have discovered that honesty is an ideal that I hold close to my heart. I knew that if I my wife and I were to have children someday that I could not truthfully tell my son or daughter to chase their dreams if I had given up on mine. The past 3 years have been a blessing. I am sure the content of material and expertise can be found at every university. However, what cannot be found is the quality of character, compassion, support, friendship and family. There were highs and lows, and many times, if it were not the kind words of a friend or professor, it would have been much more difficult to make it through. I must truly thank everyone for aiding me on my journey. Above all else, I have learned to lead with compassion and pursue what I feel is right. Those are skills that cannot be learned in a textbook. I listed above my plan for the future, but I am also a realist in that my plans may ebb and flow. Perhaps I will pursue a PhD. Maybe I will strive for my own business. By chance, I may end up in academia. I am not 100% certain, but I know I will adapt along the way. For now, I will bask in the moment, and say thank you to everyone again. I can now confidently tell my daughter and future son to chase their own dreams for you all have helped me reach one of mine.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Thomas, Daniel”

  1.   Lisa Johnstonon 06 Jun 2022 at 1:55 pm

    It is so nice to see you accomplish your goals. I am excited to see some examples of your work. I am also excited to hear you are interested in potentially becoming a clinical instructor. I think you would be able to effectively able to balance challenging and supporting a student and this would help to make you a great clinical instructor. Wherever your path takes you, I wish you good luck and stay in touch! Lisa


  2.   Mike Lewekon 29 Jun 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Dan
    Great to see all that you have accomplished and hope to achieve in the coming years. If you end up deciding to seek out that PhD… at least check with us here first! Best of luck to you and your growing family.


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