Katie Schmitt, SPT and Jenna Kantor, SPT

Katie Schmitt and Jenna Kantor

This interview took place at the PPS Annual Conference in Chicago where Jenna and Katie were honored as the winners of the PPS Student Competition. At the time of publishing, both Katie and Jenna will have graduated from the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program at Columbia University. They can be reached at kms2282@cumc.columbia.edu and jennafkantor@yahoo.com.

Share a little about yourself, your background, and the type of physical therapy you anticipate pursuing.

Jenna: I have performed musical theater professionally for 15 years and changing to physical therapy was rather unexpected. Deciding not to continue theater is often considered a failure, so it was a big deal for me to make the move to pursue physical therapy school. The process to switch occurred because I realized that physical therapy offered me a sound financial future as well as the opportunity to teach people to help themselves. I am interested in pursuing dance physical therapy for pediatric patients so I can focus on prevention, in addition to professional dance PT.

Katie: I spent 10 years as an actress in New York and Los Angeles, and decided, on a whim, to start running for exercise. With a history of severe asthma, I was enamored with the idea of using exercise as a way to wean myself off of my inhaler. I had seen the success of physical therapy for other ailments of mine, and decided to go back to school for physical therapy as a way to help other people with breathing difficulties pursue their passions. I am interested in pursuing physical therapy in a cardiopulmonology or oncology setting. I am also interested in dance PT.

You were recently the winner of the PPS student competition. Could you briefly describe your participation in the competition and the business idea you created?

Katie: We received notification about the competition from Teresa Marko who is active in the NYPTA and APTA. She knew about our development of Fairytale Physical Therapy, which brings musical theater shows to hospitals. It involves using choreography based off of therapeutic exercise to get children to participate in a mobility program. We thought this could potentially be a good private practice idea where private practices could perform a similar program on the weekends in their clinics. Kids could come to the clinic for an hour-long class including a wellness warmup followed by instruction on the choreography of the songs, which includes things like PNF [proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation], sit to/from stands, and squats. The hope is that the kids would go home and continue performing the movements each time they heard the song. As a business owner you could use this program as a marketing opportunity or as a revenue-generating program.

Jenna: In addition, this program is a great opportunity for students to get involved in your clinic. For more information about the program, you can check out our website at http://fairytalephysicalt.wixsite.com/fairytale.

How has your PT program prepared you to enter the business realm of PT? What classes do you feel would be beneficial for your program to include?

Jenna: Columbia has prepared us for business by introducing the basics of business into our PT program in two different classes. These classes provided a general overview. I would have liked to have had a finance class as well as a class on how to perform interviews.

Katie: I think it would have been helpful to have classes that would expose us to specifics of private practice. We just started an elective where different private practice owners come in to our class to share their experiences in starting a private practice. In addition, we have an opportunity to observe owners through a program called ICE (Independent Clinical Experience).

Why did you decide to join PPS as a student? What resource do you find most appealing?

Jenna: I joined PPS because I want to own my own practice one day and the most valuable resource is the network of people.

Katie: I joined PPS because I also want to own my own practice one day. I think the most beneficial resource is that everyone is so willing to share their experiences.

What are your perspectives about owning your own practice? In other words, what do you think it is like to be a private practice owner?

Jenna: I see it as a lot of work, but it is a big passion project that keeps you moving forward to create a physical therapy experience that works for you. The goal is to bring in other people who align with your own vision.

Katie: Owning my own practice means I can develop my niche in breathing PT including singing and performance. I know I have to find the right people for all areas of the business like marketing, finance, and insurance management. I have also designed an ideal office in my head and now am determined on finding a way to make it a reality.

How do you see your path unfolding upon graduation and how do you think PPS will continue to support you along this path?

Jenna: I see a lot of work ahead of me because I like taking on projects and I am extremely passionate about the profession of physical therapy. I see PPS being a regular guide and resource for helping me to advocate for the profession.

Katie: After graduation I would like to pay off my loans as soon as possible. I would like to work in a hospital during the day and maybe dance medicine at night or on the weekends. I would also like to see home care to understand what it means to not have a brick and mortar practice. I am excited to learn about the various options for private practice through PPS. Also, I know I will be able to reach out to people in the Section for advice and guidance since everyone is so willing to share.

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