My Last Two Years
By Brooke Smith, DPT
AZOPT Goodyear Physical Therapist

After graduating with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, Ariz., I have been employed at AZOPT. During this time, I have completed multiple continuing education courses to further my knowledge and expertise in my profession, and ultimately benefit the patients I treat. I have always been interested in furthering my physical therapy skills, especially manual therapy techniques.

After completing my DPT and interviewing for jobs, I learned of a Manual Therapy Fellowship program in Phoenix. Once I decided AZOPT was home, I said to myself “why not continue my education?” After all, what is another 2 and a half years after I just finished 7 years? Most important, I knew the Fellowship program would improve my skills as a practicing clinician, and it was an area of physical therapy I was readily wishing to improve!

AZOPT-pt1In May of 2013 I began my Fellowship program with Manual Therapy Institute (MTI). This particular program initially began in Texas and has expanded into multiple markets, including Phoenix. You may ask, what is a Fellowship program? Consider a Medical Doctor (MD) who has just completed medical school but wants to specialize in heart surgery. The doctor will need to complete a residency and Fellowship under more trained cardiac surgeons before becoming a surgeon themselves. My Fellowship program follows these lines, but in the physical therapy field. The best part of this program is my ability to work full time while learning and practicing all the skills and information learned in each class.

In the end, this program will provide me with the necessary tools and knowledge to become more specialized in manual therapy. I will be completing the Fellowship in December, 2015, but it will not be quite over yet. After completing the didactic portion of the Fellowship, I will begin working under the direction of a Fellow for clinical experience to further my technique and hands on, manual skills. While this portion of my Fellowship will take another year, I look forward to further achieving more knowledge that will benefit my patients.

This program is a great asset to me as it has furthered my knowledge of evidence based practice through the use of different treatment techniques. These techniques involve soft tissue mobilization, nerve glides/tracing/pathology, joint mobilizations, manipulations, and specific exercises to target particular muscles or muscle groups to treat the cause of the patients’ symptoms. I have become better at critical thinking with each individual patient that comes in the door. I use their subjective information to determine the root cause of their issue and perform a more in-depth objective screening to determine the structures involved to form the most appropriate treatment program.

pt-post2My Fellowship has not stopped me from taking other, interesting continuing education courses. I recently had the opportunity to take a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) course with the Institute of Physical Art (IPA) in Denver. This course provided different examination and manual therapy techniques to utilize in the clinic and incorporate into my treatment plans. This course was great as it can be applied to a wide range of age groups as well as diagnoses. Visiting Denver and exploring some of its beautiful landscape was not such a bad deal either.

I have a deep passion to learn new techniques and gain new knowledge about the physical therapy field to better myself and help patients improve quicker. It is exciting to learn new techniques as the field of physical therapy grows and new research alters my profession. If you want to learn more about me, please feel free to ask me in the clinic or out in the community!