Robyn Gisbert, PT, DPT is a core faculty member at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She teaches Neuroscience and Psychosocial Aspects of Patient Care and is a lab instructor for the Neuromuscular track courses.
Where are you from? Where did you do your undergraduate education?
I was actually born in Alabama (which most people don’t know), but my family moved to Colorado when I was young. I went to undergrad at the University of Colorado and then went to PT school at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Paul (Mintken) was in my class – we graduated in 1994 with our master’s degrees. I received my transitional DPT from the University of Colorado as well, which was part of joining faculty here.
What has been added to the DPT curriculum that wasn’t part of the Master’s curriculum?
For one, there are earlier and more robust clinical experiences. Some research and EBP components were added, as well as content related to pharmacology, radiology, leadership skills, and case reporting.
What made you interested in becoming a PT?
During high school I was active in Tae-Kwon–Do and had a knee injury that resulted in tearing my ACL. This led me to physical therapy. Working with the therapist – the teenage girl in me was like “I like her, so I’m going to do what she does.” So that’s how I came to physical therapy – I didn’t really know what PT was until I had my injury.
What was your first job out of school?
My first job was in skilled-nursing/long-term care. I wasn’t there too long, and then my second job was with the University Hospital system in the outpatient clinic. I was fortunate to be there with Sharon Jordan and Jenny Rodriguez and many other CU PT faculty icons! Our motto at that time was Practice What You Teach.
You mentioned in class last semester that you also worked for a Montessori school. Can you tell us more about that and how it fit into your PT schedule?
Yes, my son was one year old when I graduated in 1994. When he was a toddler, I would see patients in the morning, drive to his Montessori school over my lunch hour, and work as a teaching assistant until the end of the day. I was able to get half-off his tuition, which allowed me to spend more time with him. It was so fun. I loved it! Montessori education is child-centered, much like our profession is patient-centered.
What is some advice you would give to new graduates in finding a job?
One of the most important ingredients for first employment is having mentorship. Whether it’s a formal residency, a supervisor, or another team member, those relationships serve us well in the end.
Where do you see PT going in the future?
There are some exciting things happening in rehabilitation-applications of genomics and regenerative medicine research for example. Times are a changing and the role of physical therapy will likely morph with the times. I hope that we continue moving toward a more collaborative form of care while continuing to grow our role as primary care providers.
What was the biggest adjustment for you transitioning from being a PT student to being a practicing clinician?
I had a unique situation being a new mom as I started my career. Having my son invited me to re-evaluate myself and realize that I didn’t have to be perfect and always know the right answer, but instead that I had to understand the concepts, be observant, and listen carefully to be a good clinician. At the time I was just eager to work and have some autonomy in the clinic. We didn’t get as much clinical experience before graduation as students do now.
What recommendations do you have for students (and clinicians) to maintain work-life balance?
Maintaining balance is a nebulous thing. We all say we’re supposed to do it, but what does it look like? It seems we also have to lose the balance to improve the balance too. The practice of reflection and self-assessment can help you identify what blend of activities (including work) are in alignment with your personal values, and what blend gives the most meaning to you life. Finding meaning in your own way will help you find balance.
Any last thoughts or suggestions to students?
Be kind to yourself. It will help you be kind to others.
Favorite Quote: The only journey is the one within. ― Rainer Maria Rilke
Interview done by: Rachel Troup and Victoria Borbas