Meet the Chair: A Life in Physical Therapy
Kathleen Cook, PT, DPT, Academic Coordinator for Clinical Education has been a Physical Therapist for 30 years, living and working all over the country. As a clinician her focus is on geriatric patients and those with neurological conditions. She has been in PTA Education for 18 years, with a primary interest in clinical education, and she lives her motto: “Love what you do. Do what you love.”
Bay State College: What accomplishments or accolades are you most proud of?
Kathleen Cook: Earning my DPT as a mother of three. Earning my Level II US Rowing Coaching Certification and becoming a Medical Classifier for U.S. Rowing. And I have completed 11 Marine Corps Marathons!
BSC: Tell us about a person in your life who has deeply influenced you?
KC: My parents. They always encouraged me to set goals and dream big. They were at every event in high school, and when I was in college they would often travel over four hours just to watch me run one race. They worked extremely hard and sacrificed a lot so I could achieve my dream of being a PT. They taught me that hard work pays off.
BSC: When did you know this would be the field you pursued as an adult?
KC: I knew in my junior year in high school. I was very involved with sports. My mom and several aunts were nurses, but I didn’t want to be a nurse or go to med school. When I was researching careers, it seemed like a perfect fit.
BSC: If you could talk to your younger self when you were first starting out in this industry, what advice would you give?
KC: Believe in your skills.
BSC: What is most important thing you hope your students learn from you?
KC: Keep learning! This profession offers so very much!
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing your industry today?
KC: I think the greatest challenge is with reimbursement for services, which challenge the value of our services and often keep us from doing what we really got into the profession for—helping people get back to life! I think one of the biggest opportunities for the Physical Therapy profession is in the area of fitness and adaptive sports for those with physical and cognitive challenges.
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges facing your students today?
KC: I think there are many distractions out there. Educational costs are a huge factor. And many of our students have families and related responsibilities.
BSC: Working in this industry, what have you learned about your own strengths and weaknesses?
KC: I think one of my strengths is adaptability. Moving a lot has taught me to adapt and adapt quickly. As far as a weakness goes, I think sometimes I can be an idealist. That can be a plus or a minus.
BSC: You are known as an expert in your field. What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
KC: I love football! When I started PT school I wanted to be the PT for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but during my clinical I learned that I really enjoyed working with the geriatric Population and neurological conditions.