October is PT Month: The Interviews

October is Physical Therapy month! In celebration, we thought it would be fun for our two Doctors of Physical Therapy to interview each other. From serious to silly, we asked all kinds of questions, but saved the very best to share in this month’s newsletter.

October is PT Month: The InterviewsQuestion #1: What peaked your interest in physical therapy and/or healthcare in general as a career?

Dr. Van Heuklon: I was first introduced to physical therapy as a profession from my mom, who would tell me stories of the physical therapy she had experienced after being in a bad car accident when she was in college. Several years later, what solidified my decision of becoming a physical therapist was seeing stories of WWII veterans who completed rehab after being injured while serving and how physical therapists had helped them regain the ability to walk. After seeing what a positive impact I could have on others, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my day.

Dr. Murphy: Jay Leno. The story goes…I was visiting relatives in the Milwaukee area when my mom had a serious and sudden problem with her eye. It was a weekday evening, so we had to visit the ER at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee. Up to that point, I had very little experience with healthcare other than simply going to regular doctor check-ups. But that night, we walked in and my mom was checked into the ER by the person sitting behind a desk. Minutes later while watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the ER waiting room, I turned to look at who was laughing loudly to every joke. I was shocked to see that it was the very person who had checked us in standing in the doorway laughing. Immediately I thought, I can do that! It may sound silly, but to a girl who grew up on a dairy farm at the end of a dead end road in rural northeast Wisconsin, that picture made the intimidation of a career in healthcare melt away. In fact, I had never even considered a career in healthcare before that night. As a sophomore in high school, I had been a big American history fan, not interested in science at all. But after thinking about how I was enjoying Biology class, and how boring history had become, that night in the ER at Columbia changed the trajectory of my career forever.

Question #2: What is the best part of your work day?

Dr. Murphy: My drive home is when I summarize my work day in my brain. I always think, I get paid to do this! How lucky am I?! There is no greater satisfaction than helping others feel better, do better, and be better, so my patients can return to the joy of living!

Dr. Van Heuklon: The best part of my work day is watching my patients have breakthroughs and hearing how they can now do something that they haven’t been able to do in a long time or couldn’t do before. Helping patients get back to the activities they love is so uplifting- it makes it all worthwhile!

Question #3: If you couldn’t be a Doctor of Physical Therapy, what would be your dream profession?

Dr. Van Heuklon: Travel writer. What a cool way to travel the world and share my experiences!

Dr. Murphy: FBI analyst. But I don’t trust myself with a gun (I think I would shoot my foot off, accidentally).

Question #4: What is the best part of being a DPT?

Dr. Murphy:Getting paid to help others. Can’t imagine a better vocation with every day spent in service to others.

Dr. Van Heuklon: The best part about being a DPT is that my day is always different. I get to know so many different people and learn about all sorts of topics from my patients. The variety keeps my day interesting. Also, research and treatment approaches are ever changing and evolving, so I am always challenged to continue learning and becoming a better provider.

Question #5: What is your favorite meal?

Dr. Van Heuklon: Chicken with fried rice and vegetables made on a Hibachi grill.

Dr. Murphy: Hmmm… I like so many things. Italian mini-chicken meatballs with marinara, tuna and potato casserole, bacon cheeseburger (with lean, grass-fed beef) on a pretzel bun, and of course, Thanksgiving dinner. Now I’m hungry…

Question #6: What is your favorite physical therapy diagnosis to treat?

Dr. Murphy: Any patient with a diagnosis that has been mis-diagnosed or not diagnosed at all in the past. I love solving medical mysteries. It brings out the detective in me. The harder the problem or diagnosis, the more I love solving it!

Dr. Van Heuklon: Scoliosis is my favorite diagnosis to treat. It is a challenge that really makes me think and keeps me on my toes, as each case is unique. I think physical therapy is underutilized for this diagnosis, and there is a lot PT can do to help with posture, function, and pain in these patients.

Question #7: What is your quirkiest trait?

Dr. Van Heuklon:I hardly ever order a meal off of a menu without having to customize it.

Dr. Murphy: I can sing a song for any given word at any time. This tends to come out when making up sentences with the words on my children’s spelling tests. Many fun and crazy songs break out right around this time in our home! I tend to keep this under wraps in the clinic, but when “Let it go” enters the conversation, patients beware!

Question #8: What is your dream vacation?

Dr. Murphy: Those grass huts over the water in Bora Bora look like a very fine and relaxing vacation to me!

Dr. Van Heuklon: I am torn between a trip to New Zealand/Australia and an Alaskan cruise. Both seem like the experience of a lifetime!