Posted by vanessa on October 15, 2015
Interview with Kara Becker, DPT 2015
First Columbia DPT grad selected for prestigious Craig Hospital’s Residency Program
By Kabi Deo, CUDPT Class of 2016
After an injury there is always an accompanying journey to recovery. But what if the road to recovery led to a career? An orthopedic injury did exactly that for Columbia alumna Kara Becker, DPT 2015. While spending hours at physical therapy rehabbing her own injuries, she thought, “how cool would it be to spend your hours interacting with people trying to achieve their physical goals rather than being stuck behind a desk all day? This is what I thought I knew about PT as a profession,” she commented. “It wasn’t until I got to school that I realized why I was there. It feels awesome to have a job that gives to others.”
Transitioning from therapeutic exercise to a Doctor of Physical Therapy is quite a leap. With over 218 accredited physical therapy programs in the US, choosing the right program can be a monumental challenge. 20 year old Kara, however, was looking for a program that married the scholastic with clinical experiences. She found that at Columbia University. She commented, “The thing that makes Columbia stand out is the expertise. [The faculty’s] passion for sharing their knowledge and experience was evident from the day I interviewed to the day I graduated. They are leaders in their field”, she continued, “active participants in research and [they] genuinely love what they do.” The curriculum also boasts a large list of notable clinical sites to facilitate real-world learning. Opportunities to learn at hospitals like New York Presbyterian and Craig are an attractive proposition to any future PT.
Originally inspired by her own recovery, Kara was set on being an orthopedic and sports physical therapist. But that original goal took an unexpected turn. The plot twist occurred in adult neurology class. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord lesions tugged at her curiosity. “I became academically obsessed with the brain and spinal cord throughout my years of schooling.” Other neurology classes fed that interest in small portions. Serendipitously, in the fall of her final year, Kara got an opportunity to follow this passion with an 18 week internship at Craig Hospital.
Craig Hospital is a premier Denver-based rehabilitation institution, specializing in spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Kara divulges that she was wowed by the complexity of the presentations, which pose physical and cognitive challenges. Daily, the ingenuity of the therapists is tested, requiring multiple therapy plans that extend beyond plan A, B,C, sometimes even more! The Columbia alumna cautions current students not to be discouraged by the seemingly daunting nature of this kind of rehab. Columbia provided in-depth exploration of vestibular, orthopedic, integumentary, cranial facial issues and neurological impairments to establish a good foundation. She also emphasizes the need to read, commenting that “the literature is always changing” and “the more you read the more you know, and the more tools you have in your toolbox to help your patients.”
Kara’s own road to physical recovery ended many years ago. What started as an orthopedic injury grew into a remarkable career in neuro physical therapy. Currently this Columbia Physical Therapy grad is a staff physical therapist at Craig in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, helping others on their own journeys. She talks about the first patient she had on her own as the reason she stayed. “I worked with him for an hour each day for about two months. He went from not being able to move a muscle in his right extremities to walking out of this place. Being a part of his journey changed me as a clinician and a person.”
Kara at work