When Deb Gulbrandson, PT, DPT, engages in outreach to middle and high school students, she puts a contemporary spin on a profession with deep historical roots. Some of the younger students don't know what a physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) does, or the difference between a PT and a personal trainer.
"I tell students we're the CSI [crime scene investigation] of the health care world. We try to figure out problems. For example: What causes injuries?" At the middle school level, that approach can plant seeds of interest, says Gulbrandson, owner of Cary Physical Therapy in Cary, Illinois. "There is a real opportunity for us to be that role model."
Avenues for Success
In her experiences talking to students, Gulbrandson has discovered that many of them don't have a well-defined image of the profession. Meanwhile, some students want to go into "sports medicine," while struggling to define what that means.