Physical Therapist

Interview of Karlyn Dauplaise, physical therapist, Florida Hospital, and physical therapy alumna, University of Central Florida (UCF)
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Quick Facts

  • 100% - (ATHLETIC TRAINING) First-time pass rate on the certification exam by 2016 graduates
  • 2nd - (HEALTH SCIENCES) Ranking among the 15 most popular majors at UCF in 2016-17
  • 12 - (PHYSICAL THERAPY) Ranking among "100 Best Jobs" by U.S. News & World Report

Mailing Address

Department of Health Professions
College of Health and Public Affairs
University of Central Florida

4364 Scorpius Street
Orlando, FL 32816-2205

Phone: 407-823-2214
Fax: 407-823-2596

Alumni Spotlight

DPT Class of 2016Photo: Class of 2016 (click to enlarge)

  • 2015

    • Melissa Mallory, DPT

      Melissa MalloryMelissa graduated with the Class of 2015, and she began working as a travel physical therapist. Her first position was in an assisted living facility and memory care unit in South Carolina. From there she went to Texas and worked at a skilled nursing facility with short-term and long-term care services. She is currently working as a home health therapist traveing throughout northeastern Texas delivering therapy services to geriatric populations. She has been accepted into the Geriatric Residency Program at St. Catherine Rehabilitation Hospital in Miami, Florida, beginning August, 2016.

      Reflecting her current traveling lifestyle, she says this about the program, "My favorite part of the UCF DPT program was the trip to National Student Conclave in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference provided a refreshing perspective on the world of physical therapy and its opportunities, and it helped me to stay motivated with my studies. My advice for current and future students is to get involved in as many conferences and volunteer events as you can successfully manage. These events help to serve as an active reminder of our purpose as physical therapists. Get out there and make a difference while the resources are right in front of you."


    • Vanessa Ziccardi, PT, DPT

      Vanessa ZiccardiVanessa graduated from the class of 2015 and now resides in Boca Raton, Florida, working for a private outpatient clinic specializing in orthopedics and sports performance. She also works for a home health company and is a member of the Public
      Relations and Networking committee for the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA).

      Vanessa reflects fondly on her time in the program, particularly for her Integrations I class: "The class provided an important bridge between our academic courses and the clinical application. Our class dressed up to portray the most creative
      patients by designing costumes and utilizing props." She hopes to encourage future students to grow with this advice, "If you truly love this profession and you worked so hard to get into the program, do not stop believing in yourself throughout the three
      years. I also viewed my cohort as my second family, and we formed study groups to help with the difficult curriculum as well as the licensure exam. Finally, continue to ask for help from faculty, clinical instructors, and alumni because you can and will achieve greatness in this program."

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  • 2014

    • Natalie Hair, DPT

      Natalie HairNatalie graduated from UCF's DPT program in 2014. She works in outpatient orthopedics and in August, 2015, became the start-up clinic manager at Physical Therapy Specialists of Davenport. Since then, she has learned the importance of marketing, developing relationships with referral sources, and educating patients on direct access as she strives to grow the new clinic.

      Natalie also sought ways to give back to her own Orlando community and communities across the world. She volunteered at Grace Medical Home, providing PT care for patients in the Orlando community without health insurance. In May 2015, she traveled to Central Asia to teach physiotherapists, neurologists, and primary care doctors more modern, research-based techniques for rehabilitation of patients with neurological conditions.

      Natalie has a valuable view on the program for all students. "My favorite part of the program was undoubtedly participating in the extra opportunities the program offered, from community service, to interacting with FPTA leaders, and presenting research at CSM. My advice to current students would be to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities outside of the academic challenges of DPT school. And for those of you preparing for board exams, I recommend taking multiple practice exams and building study guides from the questions or topics you miss or are not confident on."

    • Kevin Nagel, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS

      Kevin graduated froKevin Nagelm UCF with his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2014, and he did his residency at the University of Delaware physical therapy clinic.  After completing his residency and passing the board certification exam to become a
      Sports Certified Specialist, Kevin returned to Florida and took a position as a certified clinical instructor with Florida Orthopedic Institute in Tampa where he sees a wide variety of post-operative and non-operative orthopedic patients.

      Reflecting on his time at UCF, Kevin says that what stood out to him was the intimacy of the department and the willingness of all the faculty members to help each student succeed."Every day the professors would leave their door open and never seemed too busy for questions, which for me showed that they genuinely cared about our success. They always led by example with involvement in the community and participated in state and national level development of the profession. Ultimately the UCF DPT faculty members became role models for me."

      Kevin recommends current and future students becoming a well rounded student both inside and outside of the classroom: "Passing classes and ultimately the national license exam are the primary goals while in school, but choosing clinical affiliations that are relevant to your specialty of interest and becoming involved within the community, such as the Special Olympics or the annual Let's Ignite event, are very important to potential employers."

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  • 2013

    • Stephen Younger, DPT

      Stephen YoungerStephen graduated in 2013 and moved to Tampa, Florida, where he is currently employed by St. Joseph's Hospital in the acute care department working primarily with patients with neurological diagnoses. On the job he is an advocate for interdisciplinary education development and fall prevention. 

      Considering his experience with the UCF DPT program, Stephen says: "I believe that UCF's DPT program fully prepared me to be successful from the very onset of my career, and it's due to a variety of factors. The faculty, beyond being highly knowledgable, were frequently available and always approachable, even if it wasn't their scheduled office hours. There were many times they would take time out of their busy schedule to answer questions, or just simply provide valuable mentoring. Additionally, the around-the-clock accessibility to the building and classrooms was invaluable."

      Stephen also has this advice for students: "My advice for current and future students is you will make many new best friends and have plenty of time to socialize, but you must understand that your ultimate priority is to give the program 100% of your effort. The physical therapy profession has enough "average" clinicians. Don't be one of them. Your future patients and colleagues are counting on you to strive for excellence, integrity, and professionalism in everything you do. If you do, I'm confident that the UCF DPT program will prepare you to be highly competent and impactful within the profession!"

    • Nolan Amas, DPT

      Nolan AmasNolan Amas graduated with the UCF DPT class of 2013. After working in Orlando at CORA rehabilitation for a little over a year he returned home to the Gulf Coast and began working at Fitness Quest Physical Therapy of Sarasota. In addition to working as an outpatient physical therapist, Nolan also works for Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota on weekends.

      According to Nolan, the DPT program and its faculty really do an excellent job of encouraging the critical thinking skills and idea development necessary for continued learning. "Beyond the classroom and clinical rotations the faculty make every effort to develop a relationship with their students. My most cherished memories from the program include the long hours spent in the cadaver lab learning the body with my amazing therapy family, the time I spent playing and volunteering with the Orlando Clash, and meeting my future wife Amanda (Macia), class of 2012," said Amas. "My advice to current and future students is to treat the program as an opportunity to learn, not just a ticket to a degree. Also, don't be afraid to make mistakes, push yourself, push your classmates, and push your future coworkers to be as good as they can be!"

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  • 2012

    • Jared Roth, DPT

      Jared RothJared Roth graduated from UCF with with his DPT in 2012. A resident of Central Florida, he is the lead trauma rehabilitation therapist at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, Florida. He serves as an active clinical instructor for a specialized acute trauma rotation.

      Jared enjoyed multiple aspects of the program at UCF: "First, the program helped bridge the gap between textbooks and clinical practice though having multiple classes in a hospital setting before clinical rotations. Second, the faculty was always available to answer and explain any questions regarding complex topics. Lastly, having most Fridays off from scheduled class time was a bonus." His best advice would be to "stress less, study hard, and never stop learning."

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  • 2010

    • Victoria Daacon, DPT


      Victoria (MorganVictoria Daacon) Daacon is a 2010 graduate of the UCF DPT program. After completing her DPT clinical rotations in New York, Georgia, and New Mexico, Victoria moved to Austin, TX, after graduation. She has worked for St. David's Healthcare for the last 6 years- two years in acute care, and the last four years on a spinal cord injury unit at St. David's Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital. Victoria received her Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) Certification through The McKenzie Institute in October of 2015. Victoria has been highly involved in the Austin UCF Alumni Club, and she also volunteers her time working with the Texas Ramp Project to help build ramps for new wheelchair users with inaccessible homes.

      Victoria's favorite part of the DPT program at UCF was the sense of camaraderie she felt with all her classmates. She loved working and studying in such a collaborative environment, and she feels it helped provide her with a lifelong desire to learn with and from others. Victoria recommends incoming UCF DPT students complete their clinical rotations outside of their comfort zone and outside of Florida: "Every student should seek to learn as much as they can from instructors in a variety of PT clinical settings." Victoria started out PT school wanting to do Outpatient Orthopaedics, and now she's been working Inpatient Neuro Rehab for over 4 years. She feels that: "the clinical options UCF DPT students are provided with are completely invaluable, and I'm very thankful to UCF DPT for the wonderful opportunities I was able to take advantage of during my time as a student."

    • Jenna Weaver, DPT, ATC

      JennaweaverJenna Weaver graduated in 2010, as part of our inaugural Doctor of Physical Therapy Program class, and she now resides in Sarasota, Florida. Weaver currently works in outpatient orthopedics at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates. She recalls her best memories while enrolled as a student in our program: "The best memory I had at UCF was actually my cadaver class. It was the most interesting class I have ever taken and I learned so much from it. There were days that it seemed like too much but there was always something new to learn and see. It really helped to see where everything starts and ends as well as the functions they serve."

      Along with reminiscing about the program, Weaver had some advice for our students: "Be prepared to hit the books hard! The other students in the program will become your new family for three years and they will be alongside you through difficult tests, lab practicals, fun days and everyday life."

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  • 2008

    • Daniel Flynn, PT, DPT, LAT, ATC, CSCS

      Daniel Flynn graduatDaniel Flynned from the program in 2008. Since graduation he has worked at Orlando Sports Medicine Group (OSMG), a private practice outpatient orthopedic provider. He completed his transitional DPT through the University of South Florida and obtained his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certificaton.

      Daniel's professional interests include all aspects of sports medicine from acute injury management and event coverage to traditional rehabilitation. Daniel places a special emphasis on return to sport function which bridges the gap between "traditional" physical therapy and full return to sport. He serves as one of the lead therapists for concussion management and rehabilitation. During the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work on a continuous basis with various professional, collegiate, and amateur elite level athletes as well as the performing arts.

      Because of the research partnership between OSMG and the UCF Physical Therapy program, Daniel has had exposure to various research studies and looks to continue participating in active research. He also frequently serves as a clinical instructor and also heads the volunteer program at OSMG which provides mentorship opportunities for individuals seeking careers in physical therapy and athletic training. Looking to maintain a well rounded practice, Daniel also works per diem as a home health physical therapist for Pinnacle Home Care. Daniel's advice to students is this, "If you've made it far enough to be accepted into a doctorate program, then you're already a successful student. You can stop worrying about your grades, and now start worrying about becoming a professional. Use your time to learn not just academic content, but other important skills like time management, stress management, work ethic, communication, empathy, and proficiency in skill. Also, don't forget to work hard, play hard, learn hard, and rest hard!"

    • Kinsay Cooper, PT, D.P.T.

      KinsayCooperSince graduating in 2008, Kinsay Cooper now calls the capital of our nation country her home. Residing in Washington, D.C., she works for the United States Pentagon in a Tricare Outpatient Clinic for Military Personnel. Cooper still holds fond memories of her time in our program. "The UCF community is very welcoming with an energetic spirit! The staff and professors went above and beyond (both undergraduate and graduate), to make sure students reached their potential … I love visiting the campus when I am in town and I am proud to be very active in the UCF D.C. chapter alumni group. It was really awesome to move to a new city and meet so many other successful professionals who are also alumni! We get together to cheer on UCF sports teams, raise money for charities and network!"

      With a successful career in the field of physical therapy, Cooper speaks enthusiastically about her field of work: "Pursuing a career in physical therapy is one of the best decisions I could have made! The numerous choice of work settings, flexibility of schedules and great need for physical therapists makes the profession very desirable! I get emails and calls daily with job offers. The hard work in grad school most definitely paid off!"

    • Tom Langer, PT, CSCS

      tomlangerTom Langer graduated from the UCF's D.P.T. Program in 2008. He has worked in outpatient orthopedic and sports rehabilitation facilities throughout his career. For example, he has worked with current and retired athletes from the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, Arena Football League, as well as college and high school level athletes for their physical therapy rehabilitation. Langer also works closely with Special Olympics-Florida and has served as the state director for physical therapy services and clinical director since 2007. In addition, he has been a clinical instructor for physical therapy students and is a proponent of the art and science of physical therapy. He believes in the importance of education of both students and patients.

      Langer has had a successful career in physical therapy and shared some words of wisdom with our students: "This professional training is what you make of it: Reach out to your professors, your classmates, your clinical instructors. Practice your skills regularly; never lose sight of your anatomy and physiology. Strive to be the best clinician you can be, as you will have the honor to treat patients for the rest of your career, and they put their health and welfare in your qualified hands."

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  • 2007

    • Kristy Thompson, MPT, CCCE, CCI

      Kristy Thompson, CKristy Thompsonlass of 2007, resides in Deland, Florida, where she is employed as a Center Coordinator of Clinical Education (CCCE)  for Florida Hospital Outpatient Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is pilates certified and is currently working on her Manual Physical Therapy Certification.

      Some of Kristy's fondest memories of the program revolve around the opportunities it provided her. "Choosing UCF's PT program was one of the best decisions I've made academically. It provided me with valuable opportunities that have aided me in my career and personal growth. One such opportunity I was given was my participation with another classmate in the Student-Assisted Workout Program. It was a great opportunity to take our love of therapy, health, and wellness, and apply it in a very tangible way with other students at UCF while in the program." Kristy also has valuable advice for current and future students of the program: "Get your hands dirty! If there are opportunities to volunteer, do it! Have a creative idea? Suggest it! This is a hands-on profession; your best learning will come from getting involved and working with people."

    • Lisa Grant, PT, D.P.T., SCS, ATC, LAT, CSCS, CKTP

      lisagrantLisa Grant graduated from UCF in 2004 with her bachelor's degree in health sciences -- athletic training and again in 2007 with her master's degree in physical therapy.  In 2011, she passed her APTA Board Certification in Sports PT exam, making her one of less than 50 therapists in the state of Florida with this certification. In 2012, Grant also earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Northeastern University. She currently resides in Orlando, where she is an active member of the physical therapy community. She practices at an outpatient ortho/sports medicine clinic and participates in outreach athletic training coverage. She is also an adjunct professor here at UCF in the Athletic Training Program and Health Sciences Pre-Clinical Program.

      For our students, she advises them to "enjoy your clinicals and make the most of them because they will prepare you for the future and you'll never have those moments again. If you have an opportunity to do a clinical out of state take it because it's a chance to go to a new area and experience a different part of the US. Most of all keep in contact with all of your CI's, professors and classmates because they will be great resources."

    • Mariel Repetto, PT

      marielrepettoMariel Repetto became a graduate of our program six years ago. Since that time, Repetto has become a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and an APTA Advanced Clinical Instructor. She currently works at Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute, particularly in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center and Spinal Cord Injury Center.

      Repetto recalls the friendships she created while at UCF and meeting her husband. She advises our students to "expose yourself to a variety of settings and specialties in order to find what you truly love. It took me 3 years to realize that I love working with the spinal cord injury population but I had to be fully immersed into that environment to find out."

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  • 2006

    • Jimmy Adisano, PT, ATC

      JimmyAJimmy Adisano became a graduate of the D.P.T. Program in 2006. Adisano now works for Phoenix Home Care, specializing in Home Health/Geriatrics. Reflecting on his period at UCF, Adisano recalls, "During my time spent in the physical therapy program, I was able to create friendships which as a group would go to events such as the UCF football games, concerts, and other sporting events." After several years in the field, he shares with our students: "Study all topics of physical therapy and keep an open mind. You may have an idea what part of physical therapy you want to work but may find an interest in a different setting. I enjoy orthopaedics however have ended up working in home care."

    • Katie Hohman, PT, DPT, CLT

      KatiehohmanKatie Hohman graduated from UCF's Physical Therapy Program in 2006, and she still calls Orlando home. She currently owns Hohman Rehab and Sports Therapy located in Clermont, Florida. According to the facility's website, it was designed with patient care in mind and at no cost or profit. Their goal is to aid patients to recover as quickly as possible in a comfortable and friendly setting. Amongst Hohman's many memories of UCF, her fondest includes our unique anatomy lab. She recalls spending late nights in the lab in preparation for her upcoming exams. When asked what advice she would share with our current students, Hohman stated, "Strive to learn more about private practice and what you can do/learn to be more business savvy.  We need more honest, compassionate private PT practices out there that have the patient's best interest in mind."

    • Justin Talbott, PT, ATC, LAT

      JustinTalbottIn 2006, Justin Talbott graduated from UCF's Physical TherapyPprogram. Since graduation, Talbott hasn't moved far from home. He currently resides in Oviedo, Florida, and works at Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Outpatient Rehabilitation. Amongst his many fond memories of life at UCF, Talbott states, "Of course marrying my classmate in PT school is on top of the list."

      With several years of experience in the field of physical therapy, Talbott advises our students to "Study hard but always find time to balance your life. Try not to get too overwhelmed, as long as your head is in the right place you will be fine. You should know that when you get out in the field it's not so much about what you know, but how you make that patient feel."

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  • 2002

    • Michael D'Amelio, M.S.(PT), COMT, CSCS

      MichaeldamelioMichael D'Amelio is a graduate from the class of 2002. He currently resides in Orlando working at Physical Therapy Specialists. His current practice setting is in outpatient care.

      D' Amelio has many fond memories of his time studying to be a physical therapist. He recalls, "The best memories I have of the UCF PT Program are of the wonderful staff. They were always available to help and brought to the table a wealth of knowledge and experience."

      Looking ahead to our current and future students, D'Amelio encourages them to "…approach every class session as though you will be learning something that you will be using every day in the clinical setting. All too often we just remember things for a test and then it's gone. Also, try to seek good clinical mentors after graduation."

    • Tracey McFarlane, DPT

      Tracey McFarlane graduated from the UCF's Physical Therapy Program in 2002. Today she is regional director at Brooks Rehabilitation. In this role McFarlane oversees seven outpatient orthopedic sites.

      McFarlane reminisced about the program, sharing some funny stories of her time here as a student. "One of my favorite memories is learning gait mechanics and having one of our male classmates walking down the hall wearing red high heels on camera! It was nice the men got to feel our pain and it was interesting learning about the mechanics and putting that together with all the potential injuries that go along with it."

      As a successful professional in the field, McFarlane had some wise words to share with our students: "Develop a specialty or an area of interest. Our profession is headed towards more of a medical model I believe and people will drive to see a 'specialist'. Also, learn about practice management, documentation, [and] reimbursement rules as it will serve you well when you are out practicing in the real world and it will set you apart from other new grads."

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  • 1998

    • Nicole Tristram, PT

      NicoleTristramNicole Tristram graduated the program with a master's degree in physical therapy in 1998. Today, Tristram calls St. Augustine, Florida, home. She works as a physical therapist/ pilates rehabilitation practitioner and owns Premiere Pilates Rehabilitation & Fitness.

      Before being a business owner Tristram spent many hours here on campus as a student. She fondly remembers that, "Back then, the physical therapy program was housed in two trailers on campus. One of the trailers was dedicated to our gross anatomy class, where the cadavers were stored and we pretty much had full access to them. Needless to say we got to know our cadaver who was a furniture salesman from his head to his toes and appreciated his muscular definition. Although our group was an eclectic mixture of personalities, we supported each other and became close, much like family."

      After experiencing success in the physical therapy field, Tristram advises our students to "Believe in yourselves and never stop learning or acquiring new tools to add to your toolbox. Always listen to your patients, and encourage them to have a positive attitude towards their health and well-being. Be a positive role model in your local communities and participate in events to promote exercise and a healthy lifestyle."  

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  • 1994

    • Tereasa Shepherd, PT, D.P.T., D.HSc., Cert. MDT, CLT, CEAS

      terryshepherdTerry Shepherd graduated from our program in 1994. Three years later, she graduated once again from UCF with a degree in health services administration. Today, Shepherd is the president and owner of Aquatic Health and Rehab, which is a physical therapy rehabilitation and wellness facility located in Brevard County on the east coast of Florida. Shepherd specializes in Aquatic Therapy, Orthopedics, Neurologic Disorders including CVA, TBI, and SCI, Pediatrics, Lymphedema, Laser and Women's Health.

      Shepherd was a member of the inaugural class for the UCF Physical Therapy Program. "We were the 'First Class' that paved the way for those who came after us. Hopefully, leaving a legacy in how strong the UCF Physical Therapy Program is … To me, UCF has the best PT program in the U.S."

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Our new student organization, the Health Awareness Prevention Society, focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle by increasing awareness of healthy living through education and prevention.
— Suha Saleh,  Assistant Professor, Health Sciences Director
It was great to see Jennifer [Plant] honored with the statewide Athletic Trainer of the Year Award. She is an exceptional teacher, a professional leader and an amazing colleague.
— Kristen Schellhase,  Interim Chair, Athletic Training Director
The event [for children with disabilities] was a huge success. We had about 30 children, and the students did a phenomenal job. I'm already receiving inquiries about next year's event.
— Jennifer Tucker,  Physical Therapy Instructor
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