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  • Dr. Kristen K. Schulte, PT

How did I get Here?

Like any good idea, it all started at a bar: I was grabbing some wings with my older brother one night while I was in grad school, and he started asking how my clinical rotation was going. I was at a small private practice owned by a husband and wife.

“It’s great,” I told him. “My instructors own the clinic and do physical therapy exactly how they envision it.”

My brother, always the idea-generator, quickly turned my endorsement back at me. “Do you think you could own your own practice someday?”

“Of course not,” was my automatic reply, and I continued to give him every excuse a young physical therapy student learns: I was in student loan debt up to my ears. I needed stability. I needed a job with benefits. I needed to work in a typical clinic.

John was not convinced. “Well, you would be the right person to do it, and if you are going to do it, you shouldn’t wait.”

I walked away from that conversation inspired yet scared. My brother always has a way of talking me into doing things of which I had never imagined I was capable, but the truth was, even as a student, I had already grown frustrated with “typical physical therapy.” As a colligate runner, I was “injury prone” and subjected to every protocol known to outpatient orthopedic physical therapy without much success. No one seemed to pay much attention to my special case or want to put in the extra work to problem solve with me. If this was physical therapy, I knew I could do it better.

I have never strayed from that goal and have since been committed to changing patient experience with physical therapy. I just never anticipated where it would lead, and my brother had now planted the seed.

I went back to my apartment that night and began talking to my roommate and fellow PT classmate, Courtney, about the conversation. Surprisingly, she shared similar sentiments, and we stayed up late that night plotting how we would run our clinic. Courtney and I circled back on this conversation almost weekly. Still, starting the clinic logically seemed to be in the distant future.

Fast forward a year and a half to the night of my graduation from the University of Dayton Doctor of Physical Therapy program. My entire class was at (you guessed it) a bar celebrating our accomplishment with all of our family and friends. I was sitting with my friends Anthony and Evan, talking about professional goals. When I lamented that I was not sure how I was going to accomplish my goals in a typical clinic, they responded, just as if they had spoken to my brother (they had not), by telling me to just start my own clinic.

This time I only felt inspired. Instead of spending the next week just reveling in the success of graduating, I bent the ear of every single one of my family members, outlining my ideal clinic and looking for validation. I found it ten-fold.

My dad and brother, both extremely business savvy, guided me through every step of the finance, management, and marketing process. My mom and sister, ever the cheerleaders, provided constant encouragement and idea generation. My fiancé, also a physical therapist, brainstormed ideas for improving patient experience.

The idea grew legs. No, it grew wings, and by the end of 2017, a dream that I had only begun to realize came true: WE had formed Physical Therapy 212.

By “we” I mean my family and everyone mentioned in this article but also the large group of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who gave of their time and encouraged me constantly in the process. I sit in awe of the helping hands that came out of the woodwork to help 212 succeed. Though I am unable to name everyone, I would certainly like to thank and to celebrate with every single one of these people as well as with Troy, the city that welcomed me with open arms.

If you are reading this, then consider it your personal invitation to Physical Therapy 212’s Grand Opening from 3:00-7:30 on Tuesday July 24th with the official Ribbon Cutting at 4:45. There will be food. There will be tours. There will even be prizes. And there will certainly be more gratitude than can fit in my little building. I hope to see you there!

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