Melissa 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,
Vanessa 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
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."
Natalie 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,
Kevin graduated from 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
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."
Stephen 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
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
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
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!"
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
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."
Victoria (Morgan) 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,
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."
Daniel Flynn graduated 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
Kinsay Cooper, PT,
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,
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."
Kristy Thompson, Class 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
Lisa 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 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
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."
Jimmy 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,
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,
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
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."
Michael 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
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
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."
Nicole 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."
Terry 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
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
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."