Today, we have an alumni spotlight to share with you today, Kristina Troyer. Kristina graduated from FGCU's Physical Therapy program, and answered some questions for us.
What made you pursue a degree in physical therapy?
I wanted to pursue a career where I had an impact on people’s quality of life. Initially I thought that path would lead me to becoming a pediatrician. After completing my premedical degree and observing physician practice, I decided I needed something else. I wanted to make relationships with my patients and their families. In the realities of practice and insurance coverage, the pediatricians were not able to see their patients consistently. I had a friend suggest shadowing a physical therapist. My physical therapist was articulate, intelligent and observant. She had great relationships with her patients. I knew therapy was a better route for me. I loved the idea of being able to help people without having to rely on access to imaging and medication. I graduated PT school and launched into pediatric therapy. I worked in schools and in the community with focus on underserved and hard to reach patient. I opened my own pediatric home health company and created contracts to serve that population. I completed my Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) certification and found grants to provide children with the equipment they needed. I always felt equipped to help the families and it was very rewarding for me as a provider.
What is your favorite part about being a physical therapist?
I think my favorite part is the flexibility of the profession. After I spent 6 years in Pediatrics I transitioned to Geriatric care. I loved the new challenge and focused on rehab for patients s/p cardiac surgery. After gaining more experience I had an opportunity to make clinical pathways and provide education on a therapists’ role in cardiac care. I also got credentialed as a Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional (CCRP). The CCRP focus is on having interdisciplinary knowledge about cardiac rehabilitation to promote integrated patient care. During that time, I took job positions as they were offered for Lead Therapist, Supervisor and Manager. We have so many opportunities to change direction and to continue to learning through our careers. As a rehab manager I had the opportunity to open two new units. During the process I learned how to set up a therapy practice from scratch and work with construction teams and equipment contractors to make it all work. What a journey I have had as a physical therapist!
Do you have any specific certifications or specializations in addition to your physical therapy degree?
I recently received my Geriatric Certified Specialist credentials. I want to provide quality, research informed rehabilitation to all of our patrons. I think getting certified as a specialist is an important step in that process.
Problem based learning really prepared me for this challenge.
What was your favorite part of the physical therapy program/the part that prepared you the most for your career in physical therapy?
When I was a student I expected PT school to have a classic education structure consisting of lecture followed by a standard test on chapter material. As anyone who has participated in problem based learning knows, it doesn’t work that way! In my career there have been so many times where the answers were not clear and I had to find the information and make a clinical decision. COVID-19 is an excellent example. Currently we are reading research, changing our practice and trying to meet the new needs of our patients. Problem based learning really prepared me for this challenge.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for current students or new grads?
Student loans are certainly a mountain to climb when you get out of school, but don’t just pick job for the best salary. Company support and your clinical team will affect you every day. Ask if they will have someone to mentor you. Pick well the first time! Ask questions at the interview. If you don’t know what to ask, talk to someone in that field and create a list.