Guest Post by Kerry Shutt
I could not be more grateful to the staff at the Foundation for the opportunity to work alongside passionate individuals in promoting their mission of funding up-and-coming researchers in the physical therapy field. I can still remember walking in on my first day, nervous and not really knowing what to expect. The staff could not have possibly been more kind and welcoming. It made it very easy for me to feel comfortable in their work environment.
Luckily for me, I was able to work with every staff member at the Foundation in some capacity over the summer. A majority of my work in the Foundation was within the Scientific Programs department. Working within this area of the Foundation really opened my eyes to the financial impact that this organization has on research in a wide variety of rehabilitative disciplines. Not only has the Foundation been responsible for over $17 million in funding to over 600 researchers across the country through grants, fellowships and scholarships, but Foundation-funded researchers have gone on to secure an additional $804 million in funding after being recognized and awarded by the Foundation for their research ambitions. To be a part of the team that serves as a lift-off mechanism for so many talented researchers was a privilege, and being able to make a tangible difference in this department is something that I am very proud to have accomplished at this stage in my professional journey.
One of the highlights of my summer was our trip to the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Physical Therapy Program and Department of Clinical Research and Leadership. This experience allowed the staff and me to learn about the research ambitions of their unbelievable faculty. We even toured a few of their impressive research labs. As an individual who will soon be applying to Doctorate programs, this experience gave me first-hand insight into what a high-quality program with expert faculty looks like. We were also able to have an open dialogue with the DPT program’s student body about how they could more effectively fundraise money for physical therapy research through the Foundation’s Marquette Challenge. It was inspiring to see the class come together and put their collective energy toward furthering their school’s involvement in PT research funding.
This was the first year that the Foundation took on two interns, and I am very glad that this was the case for my experience. My co-intern, Kat, was extremely easy and fun to work with, and there is no doubt in my mind that she is going to be a huge success in the physical therapy field as a student and professional. Our largest project that we did as a team was the annual mailing order which involved preparing over 4,000 envelopes to past donors updating them on the status of what the Foundation has been able to accomplish recently and inquiring about possible further donations. Through all of the folding, ripping, stuffing, and (of course) papercuts, Kat was always exuding positive energy, making the week-long project flyby. Finishing the mail order in the short time frame was an accomplishment in itself, and it will be hard to match for the next team of interns!
As a student in the discipline of physical therapy, many of my past internship experiences were simply clinical shadowing. One thing that I wanted to get out of this Summer was the chance to experience a different component of the field, and the Foundation allowed me to fulfill this desire to a greatest degree than I could’ve hoped for. With the ever-increasing competitiveness of PT doctorate programs, I feel strongly that this experience will make me a more well-rounded and competitive applicant, student, and professional in the field.
Overall, my summer at the Foundation for Physical Therapy was an experience that I will not soon forget as I get ready to enter a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. All of the mechanisms of establishing maximal functional capacity through rehabilitation that I have spent years learning about are not possible without groundbreaking research, and this research is not possible without organizations like the Foundation. Being a part of a team that has made and will continue to make such a tangible difference in the field of Physical Therapy research is something that I will always be proud of and carry with me into the next steps of my professional path.
Kerry Shutt is from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and is a current graduate student and graduate assistant professor at Salisbury University. He will earn his MS in Applied Health Physiology in May, 2019 before attending a DPT program in the fall of 2020.