By: Heather Jennings, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS, USAW
My interest in physical therapy was sparked in high school after receiving physical therapy for left and right knee arthroscopic meniscectomy surgeries, performed one year apart. I wanted to understand human anatomy and movement, strength training, and rehabilitation.
Out of high school, I was accepted into Pennsylvania State University, main campus, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a Movement Science Option in 2007. As a former athlete, I easily feel in love with strength and conditioning and worked for the Fitness Department and on-campus physical therapy clinic while at Penn State.
I decided to further my education and was accepted to University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2010 with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. While in school, I sought additional certifications in strength training and soft tissue work, to provide a well-rounded background for hopes of obtaining a position at a high level strength training facility called Poliquin Performance Center-Chicago. I moved to Chicago after graduation, where I was fortunate enough to work as a strength coach for high level athletes, in a clinical setting as a therapist, and as team physical therapist, for a WNBA team.
I decided to move in 2012, when offered the opportunity to manage a sports department and work full=time for a minor league baseball team. While traveling with the team, I provided all aspects of care from preventative strength training, to acute and more extensive rehabilitation.
Through my experiences, working both with professional sports teams and more traditional clinical practice settings, I learned the value of medical screening, manual therapy, and movement-based diagnosis. I found these were particularly critical aspects throughout my journey and evolution into an autonomous practitioner. I recently decided to enroll in an OCS prep course and Manual Therapy Fellowship through the NxtGen Institute of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine of Atlanta . I did this, to further challenge and strengthen my professional ability to critically think and reason. As a manager of a new sports medicine and rehabilitation clinic, I want to continue to evolve into the best therapist I can be, and holistically evaluate each of my patients, critically reason throughout their assessments, and provide evidence-based care.