Physical Therapy Student Helps Patients Get Back on Their Feet

November 12, 2020 | Student Success, UToday, UTMC
By Jon Meerdink

A career in physical therapy was almost a foregone conclusion for Kaitlyn Barber. All it took was a familiar-sounding story to seal the deal.

“I always had a feeling I wanted to go into healthcare in general, and I had an athletic background growing up,” she said. “So it’s kind of that cliche — an athlete gets injured and a therapist helps them get back on their feet better than they were before.”

Cliche or not, from the moment she had a positive experience with a healthcare professional, she knew what she wanted to do.

Kaitlyn Barber is a doctor of physical therapy student now in her clinical rotations at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

“It just really inspired me,” Barber said. “I wanted to be that person for someone else.”

Now in her clinical rotations at The University of Toledo Medical Center, Barber, a doctor of physical therapy student, is well on her way to doing just that. Working in the Orthopaedic Center, she cares for patients heading into and coming out of surgery.

“We teach them how to walk, we teach them how to get around,” she said. “We decide if they’re safe to be discharged and go home or if they need to go to a step-down unit for some additional care before they go home.”

And as foregone of a conclusion as a healthcare career may have been, Barber may have been equally destined to end up at UTMC. A Toledo native, Barber says finishing her education at The University of Toledo — and UTMC — was always a goal.

“Toledo has a really good reputation,” she said. “Everyone was really talking about how challenging it was to get into Toledo and how good it was and the therapists they knew from Toledo, so I was really excited to go there for school.”

UToledo is excited to have her. Barber recently appeared in a commercial for the University, showcasing her skills and accomplishments as a proud Rocket. The doctor of physical therapy program has paid off, too. Barber says when she graduates, she’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

“I feel super prepared to go into being a full-time practicing clinician thanks to the hands-on experience at UTMC,” she said. “The interprofessional communication and collaboration really help me understand other healthcare roles in the hospital and how we can each do our part to keep the patient healthy and safe.”

Her supervisors at UTMC, meanwhile, think it’s more than her classroom experience that will make her an asset to the healthcare community.

“Kaitlyn’s compassion for her patients stands out as a defining trait,” said Bethany O’Neil, a physical therapist who supervised one of Barber’s clinical rotations.

Elizabeth Obringer echoed that praise: “Kaitlyn has shown that she is able to learn and improve from one week to the next and continuously build upon the skills she learns each week.”

Barber said she hopes her post-graduation path takes her into sports medicine or another sector of healthcare that has her working with active people. But wherever she ends up, she wants to help people get back on their feet.

“I love helping people and I love being physically active and promoting it,” she said. “I want to help other people do that, and hopefully, they will have a similar experience to what I did.”

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