I have just completed my 6 week clinical experience in the Women’s Rehab and Men’s Health with UPMC Center for Rehab Services. Unfortunately, according to company policy, I was not permitted to perform internal examinations and based on my school policy for clinical sites, I was not eligible to complete a longer clinical that includes internal pelvic floor examination. I began to seek education and training on my own.
My interest in women’s health physical therapy began over 5 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had been an avid exerciser for my entire adult life, worked in Fitness and Wellness for over 10 years and co-owned a gym for about 2 years. I had competed in natural bodybuilding and strength sports for about 8 years and I was now being told that I should consider a new hobby because my body would never be the same and I should stop lifting weights for the health of my unborn child. Of course, I went back to my exercise science roots and began doing research. I found some helpful sources but decided that I wasn’t 100% happy with my findings. I began researching certifications and training for women’s health so that I could not only find information for myself but also for my personal training clients. One of my clients (an OBGYN) at the time suggested looking into physical therapy. After a week of researching the specialty, I had decided to go back to school to pursue my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree with the intent to specialize in women’s health physical therapy.
I am now in my third year of physical therapy school and have completed my 6 week clinical experience in the specialty. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was more than I could have imagined! The biopsychosocial aspects along with the personal success stories solidified my interest and I will be applying for a residency program. Upon graduation, and hopefully after successful completion of a residency, I will be working for the Veterans Health Administration (VA) as part of the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). I know that there is a growing interest in beginning programs through VA sites and I would like to either find employment at a location with a program or start a program at my site upon graduation and placement. Until my clinical, I did not understand the depth and breadth of women’s health physical therapy and I want to take full advantage of all training opportunities that I can in order to build my skills.
I have been a member of Section on Women’s Health since I first became a student APTA member in May of 2016 during my first semester of classes. I attended my first Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) this past February in New Orleans, Louisiana and thoroughly enjoyed the Section on Women’s Health presentations that I was able to attend.
More recently, I used the available resources and research during my clinical experience for in-service topics, journal clubs and PowerPoint presentations. The 2014 Update of the Guidelines for Women’s Health Content in Professional Therapist Education was a cornerstone of my “Treat the Whole Person” presentation discussing chronic pelvic pain and the biopsychosocial model. I am extremely grateful to be a student member of the Section with all of the opportunities available to members and plan to volunteer for the Section at CSM in 2019.