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Doctor of Physical Therapy

Tara DeWolfe


Pediatric Physical Therapist, Genesis Health System

"The most valuable thing I learned is that PTs are a source of hope for our patients. Having a positive attitude matters. We establish goals for them and can help them to feel empowered."

reality creating hope

How to succeed

"Stay on top of your work. And utilize your professors as a resource; they have a lot of insight to offer."

Tara has always known she wanted to work with children. And after speaking with the Ambrose physical therapy department, she learned how she could have a positive impact on the health of many children. Tara took advantage of the Track 1 option to begin her DPT as a senior at Ambrose, with an undergraduate major in psychology and a minor in biology. After earning her degree she worked at East Tennessee Children's Hospital for two years. Then she made her way back to Davenport to work at Genesis Health System and to be closer to her family.

Now Tara provides physical therapy in the newborn intensive care unit and is implementing a developmental care program that will educate nurses and parents on how to ensure that babies have the best developmental outcome. Tara is also collaborating with a nurse practitioner and a neonatologist on an NICU follow-up program to monitor babies' developmental milestones. Current DPT students may see her on campus when she delivers guest lectures.

In her own words

What was the coursework like?

For the yearlong evidence-based practice scholarship project, we focused on pregnancy and low back pain. My group worked with Kathie Lampe; she taught my early classes on modalities and therapeutic procedures. It certainly put our research skills to the test!

Because I knew I wanted to go into pediatrics, I chose most of my project topics and clinical work accordingly. I did a project on newborn diagnosis and I did a short-term clinical in the school system, in addition to the 10 week rotation that was in pediatrics. And since I had an interest in the NICU, I found a clinical site to do my 40 hours of outpatient pediatrics clinical work and made sure I could spend an extra day in the NICU for advanced training.

How did the faculty make an impact?

They're all very hands-on and willing to schedule extra practice or study sessions to make sure everyone understands the concepts. They'd show us videos of themselves doing treatments and interacting with patients. Seeing them in action-asking patients about their therapy and responding to their questions-was really helpful.

What have you done in the program that you never expected to do?

Travel! The clinical internships provided me with the opportunity to live and practice in Iowa, Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin. They were eye-opening experiences.

I also attended several conferences, including the American Physical Therapy Association's meeting in New Orleans. That conference in particular reaffirmed my confidence in the education I was receiving at Ambrose. My class went with other practicing PTs. Ambrose students were already aware of much of the technology and techniques shown at the conference. But it was new information to the practicing PTs! We were glad to see we were learning the most up-to-date PT material.

How did you balance your work/personal/studying commitments?

When I started the DPT program my senior year, I was on the dance team, I had a work-study job and I was a nanny. My advisor told me that nobody in the program had ever had that many outside obligations. My PT classes took priority, but I was able to balance everything thanks to my professors' dedication and support.

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