In October 2017, Section on Women’s Health for the first time ever announced a scholarship opportunity that was specifically offered to early-professional members. As part of the scholarship, the selected candidate would receive one early-bird Combined Sections Meeting conference registration and three hotel nights in New Orleans, Louisiana in February 2018. After reviewing many applications, Section on Women’s Health selected Natalie Kiefer, PT, DPT as the recipient of the early-professional scholarship.
Natalie Kiefer, PT, DPT
Natalie has been practicing as a PT for just over one year. While in graduate school at Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon, Natalie participated as one of a handful of PT students in the country receiving a scholarship from the Indian Health Service scholarship program. Through her commitment to this program, Natalie began working after graduation for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, a Native American community in Central Oregon. Natalie had a passion for women’s health for a while, stemming from her previous experience working as a Fertility Care Practitioner, educating women on their health and fertility. Natalie recently won the 2018 CSM Student Scholarship sponsored by Section on Women’s Health.
My CSM Experience
I was very honored to be selected as the CSM 2018 Early-Professional Scholarship Winner by the Section on Women’s Health (SoWH). Because of this scholarship, I was able to attend CSM for the first time! New Orleans was such a fun and exciting site for this year’s event. As a resident Oregonian, I loved exploring a new city with so much wonderful food and culture. (My Lyft driver told me he has never been to the West Coast, because we eat too many vegetables over here!)
It was a wonderful experience full of meeting new people, connecting with old friends, and networking with some of the leaders of the field that I have admired since delving deeper into women’s health. It also struck me that there were a lot of SPTs attending to get an early start on their journey to specializing in such rewarding and meaningful work. Kudos to you all!
As a new member of the SoWH, it was so formative to be able to attend the wonderful programs sponsored by the section and many other specialty sections. In my early-professional career, I often come across cases that do not fit neatly into my “box” or paradigm of diagnoses and treatments that we learn in continuing education for the foundational pieces of pelvic health. The real world is a bit messier than that! So the programming at CSM was a fantastic tool to open my mind to the actual clinical experiences of other professionals.
Maybe my patient is a female runner with incontinence? There was a talk on that! A yogi with pelvic floor dysfunction and poor breath control? There was a talk on that! A female patient with a spinal cord injury interested in having a child in the next few years? There was a talk on that as well! And if none of those presentations can guide me through treatment of the perplexing patient sitting in front of me, I can always look back on my notes from the “Complex Cases” presentation for inspiration. Within all of these aforementioned presentations and the other wonderful programming I attended, I had a great sense of pride in witnessing the excellent clinical judgement and problem-solving by my peers.
I also discovered that this is a group that likes to have a good time! I attended the lively “Board in a Bar” meeting on Bourbon Street sponsored by the SoWH. What a wonderful opportunity to socialize and learn more about other professionals from all over the world that share similar interests. I look forward to attending other events like this in the future!
On a more personal note…
This trip was my first time being away from my infant. I would be lying to say that I wasn’t nervous! But I was pleasantly surprised to find that each of the sites that hosted programming at CSM had a “Mother’s Room” where I could pump between sessions. (It was also a place where I connected with other mothers traveling without their children — many pictures from home were shared among us!) I want to extend my gratitude to all of those involved in the planning of this event that made this accomodation and many others possible so that the attendees could enjoy their experience.
Overall, I cannot speak highly enough of my time at CSM. I whole-heartedly recommend attending to any other early-professionals seeking mentorship, to seasoned clinicians interested in networking, and to students looking to learn more about a specialty. I look forward to Washington D.C. next year for CSM 2019 and hope to see you there!