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.