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  • APTA Board Member Sheila Nicholson Dies

    Sheila Nicholson, PT, DPT, JD, MBA, MA, a member of the APTA Board of Directors and passionate advocate for the physical therapy profession, died on June 12, after a more than 2-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

    A physical therapist (PT) for more than 30 years, Nicholson dedicated herself to serving the physical therapy profession and its patients. After working solely as a PT for more than a decade, she earned a law degree and a master's degree in business administration and worked as a health care defense attorney while continuing to see physical therapy patients on weekends. She authored a book, The Physical Therapist's Business Practice and Legal Guide, and wrote multiple articles on risk management and medical malpractice.

    Nicholson joined APTA in 1982 and devoted herself to service in the association. She was elected to the APTA Board of Directors (Board) in 2014, after serving as president of APTA's Florida Chapter since 2009. Her long history of service also included APTA's Scope of Practice Task Force and participation in the APTA House of Delegates. Most recently, she was the Board lead on the effort to develop APTA's strategic plan for 2019-2021.

    "Sheila was a mentor, an educator, an advocate, and, above all, a friend to her family, colleagues, and APTA," said APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, DPT, board-certified orthopaedic clinical specialist. "She was tenacious, thoughtful, and heartfelt, with an indomitable spirit that allowed her to be an active member of our Board until the end of her life.

    "Along with the rest of my Board colleagues, I am devastated by her loss and overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to serve with her. Sheila has helped lay a firm foundation on which future generations will stand. Our condolences go out to Sheila's family—including the so many members of Sheila's APTA family whose lives she enriched.

    "And given her love for all things 'Bama, this LSU girl says from the bottom of her heart: Roll Tide!"

    Throughout her fight with cancer, Nicholson continued to advocate for the physical therapy profession and to stay involved with the work of APTA.

    In a prerecorded video shared with the APTA House of Delegates on June 10, Nicholson said, "I can't express how proud I am to have served with the people who are so dedicated to advancing our profession and making the world a better place. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and for all of you, my colleagues and APTA family. Thank you for all you have given me. Most importantly, thank you for caring for our profession. I encourage you to make an impact that will outlast us all."

    Nicholson is survived by her parents, 2 brothers, and several nieces and nephews.

    APTA has posted a statement of tribute that allows readers to share their thoughts and memories. That page will be updated with memorial service and donation details when available.


    • Although I knew it was coming, my heart is heavy. I'm grateful to be here @ NEXT among so many of my PT family as we begin to grieve this tremendous loss. Heaven has another beautiful angel whose spirit will continue to be with us always. My life has certainly been enriched & blessed to have known & loved Sheila!

      Posted by Peggy Newman on 6/13/2019 11:04 AM

    • She will be greatly missed. Does anyone know if there is a way to honor her memory? Was there a request to make donations anywhere in her honor?

      Posted by Blair Frye -> >LV\EG on 6/13/2019 5:48 PM

    • So sorry to hear about Sheila Nicholson's passing. She was a great mentor and will be missed by many.

      Posted by Mike Garcia on 6/14/2019 12:41 AM

    • Rest peaceful Sheila knowing that those of us who remain shall continue to follow your lead. May God keep you ever close.

      Posted by Maureen Schichtel on 6/14/2019 7:51 AM

    • Sheila was a positive force and bright light in our profession. She was an amazing mentor and teacher. She touched so many lives. We will greatly miss her!

      Posted by Amy Babb on 6/14/2019 9:16 AM

    • Even though I did not know Sheila personally, I am deeply inspired by her professional life's story and her immense contribution to our profession. In light of such gigantic loss for her family and the physical therapy profession as a whole, I want to extend my deepest sympathy.

      Posted by Emmanuel D Benony, PT, DPT, GCS on 6/14/2019 11:37 AM

    • As her mother I was so proud of my daughter Sheila. I am so proud of the Notice that was sent. Thank you Sharon and others who helped. My daughter loved APTA and thoroughly enjoyed working with other members of APTA. We are planning a Celebration of her Life in Tampa but do not have a date or place yet. I will be sure and notify Sharon when we have the Celebration set. Thank all of you for your friendship shown Sheila. Rosemary Stormer mom

      Posted by Rosemary Stormer on 6/14/2019 11:44 AM

    • So sad

      Posted by Rene' Crumley -> @LW_< on 6/14/2019 11:58 AM

    • Sheila was the best boss I had the privilege of working for in a 44 year career. It is so sad to see her leave much to soon. She will always be remembered.

      Posted by Rebecca Rich on 6/14/2019 1:04 PM

    • Sheila was a leader of our profession whose skills, dedication and passion for physical therapy was an inspiration to many, may she RIP

      Posted by Jim Dunleavy on 6/14/2019 5:39 PM

    • Sheila will always be remembered for her dynamic contributions to our profession. Dedication such as that will surely be missed but, perhaps, we can all learn from her fine example of the importance of being "involved." May she now rest peacefully.

      Posted by Jill Sweringen on 6/15/2019 1:43 PM

    • I had privilege of serving on the Board of Directors with Shelia. She was a passionate, honest, direct, and compassionate professional. She left her positive mark on our profession as is witnessed by the leaders she mentored. Now she is safely home. God bless you, Shelia.

      Posted by Mary Sinnott -> =NYbC on 6/16/2019 6:12 PM

    • Sheila’s legacy is one to be proud of. I personally gained inspiration from her and am deeply saddened by this news. This is a huge loss for our profession, and much too soon. Thank you Sheila from the bottom of my heart.

      Posted by Jeremy Angaran on 6/19/2019 6:18 PM

    • Although I did not know Sheila personally I knew of her awesomeness by serving in the House of Delegates with her. I always admired her as that vivacious blond lawyer PT from Florida who was super smart, very professional and extremely compassionate. Rest in peace Sheila Nicholson, you will be missed, and know that you had an impact on so many.

      Posted by Katie Burch on 6/20/2019 1:33 AM

    • I had the privilege of working with Sheila as she was our liaison to ABPTRFE through some major changes in the past 2-3 years. She had great insight and passion and of course her direct nature greatly helped us to move forward and accomplish goals we didn't think we could. I learned more from working with her during this time than she would ever know and she has made an ever lasting impact on me as a PT. Thank you Sheila!

      Posted by Airelle Giordano -> ?JPZBG on 6/20/2019 10:37 AM

    • I was so very privileged to work with and learn from Sheila on a number of occasions. I will never forget joining her on stage at CSM 2015 for an interdisciplinary educational session, "How Science can be used in the Courtroom." This brought together an emergency room physician, an MRI physicist, a neuroscientist, and three PT's. Not surprising, Sheila was AWESOME, bringing such a unique perspective to the panel. Such an inspiration with an infectious passion for doing things right. Bless you, Sheila

      Posted by James Elliott on 6/20/2019 8:49 PM

    • Dear Mrs. Rosemary Stormer, my deepest condolences to you and family. My late husband, Charles ‘Ed’ Parker is now welcoming Sheila and enjoying her company at our Lord’s kingdom. I don’t doubt if they have been playing table tennis nonstop with Sheila claiming ‘NO Texas team can even get close to Bama’. While I served on the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice, Sheila almost always managed to attend every meeting and she was very instrumental in having the Board, FPTA and academic communities collaborate with each other. Sheila enjoyed Ed’s home brewed Belgian beer every time we meet with her. Yes, Sheila will be missed, but what a pleasure to have met her. Love, Violet Acuna Parker

      Posted by Violet Acuna Parker on 6/22/2019 4:47 PM

    • Great colleague, great friend, great person. The PT community was lucky to have you. I was fortunate to know you (and serve APTA with you) for many years. My thoughts are with Sheila's family and friends. RIP Sheila. I already miss you.

      Posted by Stuart Platt on 6/23/2019 7:25 AM

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