Faculty Interview

Lauren Hinrichs

Lauren Hinrichs, PT, DPT, OCS is a lab instructor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She assists with the Musculoskeletal track courses, Examination and Evaluation, Foundations of Intervention, and the Sports and Advanced Manipulation electives. In addition, Lauren works as a clinician at Cascade Sports Injury Prevention and Physical Therapy in Arvada, CO.

Where are you from?

I am from Belleville, IL, which is a suburb of St. Louis.

Where did you go to undergrad and Physical Therapy School?

I went to the University of Miami Ohio for undergrad and studied Exercise Science and Athletic Training while taking the prerequisites for pre-med/physical therapy. I received my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Northwestern in Chicago, IL.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy hiking/snowshoeing, endurance sports and CrossFit. I try to do a race or two per season. In addition, I love to cook and bake whenever I can, which everyone knows about at Cascade. Most recently I started to blog for Cascade Physical Therapy.

Favorite places to eat in Denver?

Stoic & Genuine
Euclid Hall

Favorite book/blog?

Right now, I really enjoy reading Dean Summerset’s blog: http://deansomerset.com/. I also visit Barbell Physio a lot to get information on exercise prescription. I can use a lot of this information for all types of patients.

What made you interested in physical therapy?

When I first started undergrad I was debating between exercise science or actuarial science. I ended up deciding on exercise science and athletic training. While working for the school’s football team as an athletic training student I had the opportunity to shadow the team’s physical therapist. Having never experienced PT before, this shadowing experience showed me that I wanted to pursue physical therapy.

What was your first job after graduating from PT school?

Right after school I wanted to move out to Colorado. I found a job at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital in Loveland, CO where I worked both in and outpatient rehab as well as long-term acute care. Northwestern has a strong neuro track, which helped me feel comfortable working with this population. I really enjoyed the job. Already having an athletic training background I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge and work in a setting I hadn’t really done before.

Most students know that you were one of the first physical therapists to work at Cascade. What led you to work there?

I loved working in inpatient, but realized outpatient orthopedic was where I truly felt at home. At the time, I was living in Denver, and after a long time searching I finally found a private practice clinic in Denver. This is where I met Justin. Justin was doing a lot of on field soccer tournament coverage and sport injury prevention programs. With his schedule growing more and more busy, he asked me to assist with weekend coverage. After doing this awhile, an opportunity arose to lease the perfect clinic space, and he invited me to work for him. I began by working part time at both clinics and eventually became full time at Cascade.

What are some of the benefits and hardships of working in a private practice clinic?

To start, I love having the scheduling flexibility, which allows me to work as a lab assistant here at CU. I also have total autonomy to treat based on my knowledge and prior experiences. Some clinics, unfortunately, do not value autonomy and employees are told how to treat. A hard part of private practice is marketing and getting people in the door. However, marketing has been good for me to learn and the community has hopefully benefited through the education and injury prevention seminars we provide.

When did you start assisting at CU?

I have been helping out at CU for 4 years. Every year the opportunities and responsibilities have increased. I first started helping out for the musculoskeletal course lab content, and have since assisted with exam and eval, the sports and manipulation electives, and most recently foundations of intervention. I also have the privilege to assist with the CAPE experience. All of these opportunities have been wonderful experiences, and I have enjoyed helping out at all of them.

What should students look for in a PT program when applying?

Look into the research that is being published and it will give you an understanding of the strengths of the program.

What is some advice you would give new grad physical therapists?

Look for how the clinic facilitates growth. Don’t just look at critical thinking and skills, but also leadership growth and mentorship. At the first private practice I worked at, we had monthly in-service or journal clubs. People were using this time to learn new things and critically think through new ideas. I would also recommend spending a day in the clinic so that you can get a sense of the culture of the clinic.

Do you recommend new grads doing continuing education/residency right after graduating?

I think it’s important to reflect on who you are as a learner. For me, I waited two years to do a residency. In school we get into this mode of feed me information; tell me what to do and I will internalize it and try to make it my own. But I think that until you are in clinic and making decisions on your own and seeing the consequences of those decisions, whether good or bad, it’s hard to say you have internalized the info and understand your potential.

I believe you students know so much more than you think you know if you ask yourself the right questions. So, in regards to devoting time and money to a residency, I would recommend waiting in order to self reflect and understand what you need to grow in. If you jump from one educational setting to the next you may find yourself leaning on others to give you the information vs going out and seeking the information yourself and taking ownership of what you learn.

Having two years of clinical experience gave a deeper richness to the residency. I was able to attend journal clubs and have deeper conversations based on real experience. It made it much more meaningful.

If anyone is interested in doing a residency make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. That’s the most important thing. Taking a few years off won’t cause you to lose the student mentality. You have motivation behind your decision.

Where did you go for your residency?

A few years after graduating from PT school I completed an Ortho residency through Temple University. It was their second year of being accredited, and was still small. This was a remote residency allowing me to work full time in Denver while attending 6 weekend courses. Paul Mintken was actually my mentor through personal relationships at Temple. I became an OCS in 2013.

What do you believe differentiates a good therapist from a great therapist?

Ultimately, constant curiosity. In addition, being able to think outside the box and see each patient as an individual instead of falling into a standard protocol. Treat the person wholistically and view every patient as an outlier.

Additionally, if you are working with a special population, it’s important to know the sport and knowing what they can and cannot do because they are going to respect you for it. I try to educate myself on the language and nomenclature of the sport in order to better help my patients.

Where do you see PT going in the future?

The students graduating are really skilled, but if you ask a 1-3rd year on how to progress a person through an exercise they look at you like you are speaking a foreign language. I believe we need to take back ownership of being exercise specialists. I think other professions are doing a better job at exercise selection. Blogs I follow are more gym and sports related to get exercise prescription knowledge, but this can be applied to all areas of PT. We’ve taken exercise out of PT because it is hard to study and treat and is very individualized. Right now there’s not a lot of research out there on exercise in the PT world. A lot is very general exercise knowledge.

Interview done by Elysse Marcuccella and David Treichler

Faculty Interview

Robyn Gisbert

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



Robyn and her son, Nile, circa 1995

Interview done by: Rachel Troup and Victoria Borbas


Faculty Interview

Dan Malone


Dan Malone, PT, PhD, CCS is a core faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He teaches Medical Conditions. In addition, Dan works as a clinician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, CO.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. I left Philadelphia for a short period of time and lived outside of D.C. as a child.  All that I remember from that time is that we had an in ground pool and nobody is more popular than the in ground pool kid.

Where did you go to Undergrad?

I received my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and Athletic Training at the University of Pittsburgh.

What are your hobbies?

I’m a sports nut, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve with sports—I’m a Philadelphia guy. You can take the boy out of Philadelphia, but you can’t take Philly out of the boy. Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, 76’ers, Phillies, they’re all my teams (as ESPN App notifications ding in the background). I will go and watch the Rockies and I was happy the Bronco’s won the Super Bowl, but if they were playing the Phils or Eagles I would’ve wished the Denver teams lost 66 to nothing!

I’m also a civil war buff. I came to that later in my life, but I think American History is really cool. The only history class I ever took was my last year in undergrad about the history of medicine (Magic, Medicine & Science), which was very cool but otherwise I never really studied history. I think the Civil War era is a fascinating time in our history, and as much upheaval as we’ve seen with our recent election, thinking back to the 1850’s-1860’s and how the country was divided then and we overcame that, I’m still very optimistic and hopeful.

I also love hiking and I bike a little bit; I like the Breckenridge area in the summertime. I’d love to be a regular skier, but I don’t know if my schedule would allow it.

I also play the guitar very poorly. I try to tinker around and I took lessons as a way to relax when I was getting my PhD. I can’t sing—I couldn’t carry a tune if you strapped it to my back; I have one note and it’s flat. But I’m a huge music guy and I’ve always got music playing in my office. I love rock and roll and the blues.

Do you have a favorite place to eat in the Denver area?

Not yet, I’m still exploring. My wife and I rarely go back to the same place twice because we’re always trying something new. Denver has a really good food scene, but we don’t have a favorite yet. I’m a huge fan of microbrews, and I loved gastropubs in Philadelphia—I really wish they had more places in Denver with both really good beer and really good food (not a food truck).

Do you have a favorite quote and if so what?

The best way to predict the future is to create it.  (A. Lincoln)

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give (W. Churchill)

If you had to recommend one book to read what would it be?

A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s basically the history of Abraham Lincoln and how he got the candidacy as the first Republican presidential candidate and formed his cabinet. There were three other rivals for the presidential candidacy (E. Bates; S Chase; W Seward) and each of the other guys were well known and well respected. People made fun of Lincoln as the “prairie lawyer” – essentially a country bumpkin.  He was not the first choice as a candidate by anybody, but he positioned himself to the second choice of everybody. None of the rivals could get enough votes to become the candidate. Eventually voters came to the second choice, which was Lincoln, showing how politically savvy he truly was. His rivals held him in little esteem, calling him the ape in the white house because he was a tall gangly guy, but Lincoln had each of those three rivals as part of his cabinet. Over the course of years, Lincoln’s brilliance of learning to put the goal ahead of personal bias led each of his former rivals to respect and admire him. The idea of being able to put the goal ahead of individual desire and bringing together a team of individuals who don’t necessarily get along, but are the best and the brightest for the better part of a goal is pretty impressive.

Where did you go to Physical Therapy school?

Temple University. It is also where I received my PhD in Physiology.

What made you interested in PT?

I was in 8th grade playing football, which was really funny because I was probably 85 pounds soaking wet. I played wide receiver and I tore my ACL, but no one knew it at the time. I remember jumping up and coming down and my right knee hyperextended and then it blew up. I went to my PCP and they gave me crutches and then eventually the swelling went down and I got better after some time. During the basketball season I remember going up for a lay-up and coming down on my right leg and it shifted on me, causing me to fall. My knee swelled up again and I got put back on crutches. I spent probably 3-4 months of that year on crutches. It wasn’t till high school that I was referred to an orthopod. It took him maybe 2 minutes to figure out I tore my ACL by doing a Lachman’s or anterior drawer test. I had surgery on it where they trimmed up the edges of my ACL and meniscus. They didn’t do an ACL repair on me because I was still growing and didn’t want to disturb the growth plates. I’m still hoping for that growth spurt!  At the physician’s office a physical therapist there gave me some exercises to do. That physical therapist sparked my interest in physical therapy as I went through rehab.

What was your first PT job out of school?

My first PT job was at the Hospital at University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Initially I planned on working there for 3 years, but ended up staying for 20 years. During PT school I was totally sport’s oriented, with the goal of becoming the head PT for the Philadelphia Phillies. Like I mentioned earlier my undergraduate degree was in exercise science and athletic training, and that’s why I wanted to go to PT school. My final clinical affiliation was at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, a major rehabilitation center for TBI and stroke. This clinical experience steered me towards neuro and was a setting that I liked. Before working in the rehab setting, I wanted to see acute neuro trauma and this led me to work for HUP since they were a level 1-trauma center.

What is some advice you would give to new graduates in finding a job?

I would say keep your options open. Many students often come into the program with a designated career path in mind. If I think of myself as an example, I came in as an orthopedic sports guy, I finished out my clinical as a neuro rehab trauma guy, and I ended up as a cardiopulmonary guy. Before I even got to become involved in cardiopulmonary physical therapy, I was a generalist in the acute care setting.  I think the profession needs “generalists”. I think the “generalist” PT is often viewed as “unsexy” but this clinician has to possess an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge to be successful.  I think that is totally admirable.  On the other side of the coin, if you know what you want to do then follow your calling, but if you’re waffling and aren’t sure, there is a lot of benefit in being a generalist. Secondly, with regards to clinical development, I would say be a sponge. Not just with your physical therapy mentors, but with other professionals as well.  Many of my mentors were nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and physicians.

What made your pursue getting your PhD in Physiology?

I was a late bloomer to getting my PhD; I didn’t start the program until after a decade of working as a physical therapist. I think my interest in pursuing a PhD was based off what I did clinically for a living.  I was the primary physical therapist in the medical ICU and cardiac ICU and I really wanted to understand in particular why these patient’s hearts and lungs were failing and my physical therapy education didn’t adequately prepare me for that. Also, part of it was that I really wanted to better myself and understand the medicine and science behind cardiac and pulmonary pathology, since much of medical treatment is based off of that physiology.

How has your PhD contributed to your career as a physical therapist?

My degree is in physiology with an emphasis in pulmonary physiology. When I was getting my PhD, I would have full semester courses on the physiology of all major systems, and that really helped me understand all of the organ systems of the body. In clinic, you see patients with comorbidities, and if you have a deeper understanding of normal physiology it will help you understand pathology and medical management to a greater extent.

What made you want to get your Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Clinical Specialization?

I was the lead therapist for the cardiothoracic team at HUP and gained so much clinical and medical research knowledge. After about 5 years of working at the hospital I was introduced to a physical therapist who was a cardiopulmonary specialist and put that bug in my ear.  I didn’t know much about specialization at the time. Specialization was still developing in 1998, and there still aren’t too many CCS certified therapists now. I wanted to affirm what I already knew about cardiopulmonary practice and the preparation for the exam was really helpful in my job because it helped me dive deeper into areas I wasn’t as familiar with. Afterwards, once I had my CCS I started getting opportunities to teach courses and assist with labs at regional PT programs, as well as step into a mentor position at my job.  The CCS also facilitated a promotion up the clinical ladder at HUP.

Since you had such an established career and loved Philadelphia so much, what brought you to Colorado?

Even before I finished my PhD, I was looking for faculty positions where I could teach Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. My wife and I decided we liked certain parts of the country, Colorado included. I had never been to Colorado, but thought it would be a cool place to live. The job opening at the University of Colorado was for someone with a Cardiopulmonary background to be in charge of the medical conditions track courses, as well as participate in an ICU rehabilitation study.  So coming here married my clinical and research interests with what I wanted to teach – a perfect fit.

Where do you see PT going in the future?

Hopefully, upward and upward. I certainly hope that physical therapists are in the conversation of who is necessary for patient care. When we think of what a big push there is to keep people out of the hospital and prevent readmissions, and we know functional status is a huge part of that, who else is better than physical therapists? I think we have the background and knowledge base to put together the pieces to improve and optimize patient outcomes. I think we’ve started that conversation, but I don’t know if we are a regular part of it yet.

The advocacy piece is really huge. Legislators and payors don’t always think of physical therapists. We need to be a part of the first line of healthcare. Educating our patients on what we do will help them be our greatest public relations resource, and then we have to go up to our physician and nursing colleagues, and to local and federal legislators to really advocate for our profession.

Interview done by: Courtney Zwetsch and Victoria Borbas

Faculty Interview

Paul Mintken



Paul Mintken, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT is a core faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He teaches musculoskeletal conditions along with advanced joint manipulation. In addition to teaching, Paul works as a clinician at Wardenburg Physical Therapy at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Where are you from?

I was born in Lincoln Nebraska, but we moved to Boulder when I was 9 months old.  I consider myself a native.

Where did you go to Undergrad?

I went to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and got my degree in exercise physiology and athletic training.

What are your hobbies?

I love to play guitar, ride dirt bikes with my boys, play softball and hike.  When I was younger I was an adrenaline junky and my body has paid the price.  Playing football, rugby, basketball and riding motocross and endurance races left me a wounded warrior.  I have had 3 knee surgeries and a hip resurfacing, more separated shoulders than I can count, a vertebral compression fracture and 3 herniated discs in my low back.  I have a wonderful wife (Stacie) and 3 amazing kids (Frankie and fraternal twins Jacob and Josie), so my hobbies now revolve around helping them grow up.  I am an assistant scoutmaster for the Boy Scout Troop that Frankie and Jacob participate in, so we do a lot of camping.  In 2015 I spent 26 nights in a tent!

Favorite place to eat in Denver area?

We like this small restaurant close to where we live in Wheat Ridge called Tellers.  http://www.tellerstaproom.com

Do you have a favorite quote, and if so what?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

If you had to recommend one book to read what would it be?

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

What made you interested in PT?

I played football for 9 years and rugby for 6 years, so I had a lot of injuries and had a lot of PT.  I initially thought I wanted to go to medical school, but after shadowing 3 physicians and 3 PTs I asked them all if you could start all over again from the beginning, would you still pursue the same career?  All the PTs said yes and all the physicians said no.  I applied to both PT school and medical school, got into both, and had to make a decision. My advisor in undergraduate was a retired family practice physician who worked 100+ hours early in his career.  His wife left him and it took him 2 weeks to figure out she was gone! In addition, I liked the aspect of being able to go home without a pager and be with my family.

If you had to do it all over again would you choose PT?

Absolutely. I love my job and have no regrets.

What was your first PT job out of school?

My first job out of PT school was with a contract PT company that would send me for short-term stints to cover for PTs that were taking time off. This varied from 1 day for sick coverage to 3 months for maternity leave.  I don’t recommend it as I got all the new evals, had no mentorship, and the workload was tremendous.  When an opportunity opened at Wardenburg, where I am at now and where I did a clinical rotation as a student, I jumped at the opportunity, and it has been an amazing experience.

Did you ever have an interest in starting your own practice?

I actually did start a small private practice where I worked out of a friend’s clinic 5-10 hours a week making custom orthotics.  I had that company from 1997 until 2004 when I became faculty here.  I found out very quickly that I was not a very good businessman, and I ended up doing a lot of pro-bono work and didn’t make a lot of money. I was almost relieved when I became a faculty member here and they made me sign a non-compete clause and had to close the practice for good.

What is some advice you would give to new graduates in finding a job?

The biggest advice I would give is to not jump at the first job offer.  You really have to make sure that the position fits you and your personality.  Take time to look into the clinic and talk to the therapists that work there. Having spent time in a lot of clinics in my first job, there are some places that your gut tells you to run away from, and some that feel like home. Listen to your gut.  It is rarely wrong.

What do you recommend doing in your first year of work post-graduation (continuing education, etc)

I really recommend to new grads to review your schedule for the next day (if possible) and plan out your examination for your new patients.  Highlight the things you NEED to know, those that are nice to know, and those things that can wait until subsequent visits.  Having standardized forms for each body part or diagnosis can help.  For example, if you are seeing a patient with hip pain, you need to do a lower quarter screen (LQS), clear the lumbar spine, and prove to yourself that the symptoms are originating from the hip rather than somewhere else.

In addition, I am a big fan of residencies. It is a way to really accelerate your knowledge and career. Many residents that I see when they get done with the one year look as though they have been out of school practicing for 3-5 years. My favorite type of residencies are the brick and mortar type with an actual building where you go to both treat patients and receive mentorship. The other tract is more online, where the majority of coursework is done. For online residencies you have to pay for tuition, but you are making a full salary; whereas in the brick in mortar type residencies your tuition is paid for, but you are not making a full salary. Both types have good outcomes and are worth looking into.

Where do you see PT going in the future?

I really envision PT becoming the primary care providers for neuromusculoskeletal conditions.  It seems to me such a colossal waste of time and money to have a patient with low back pain or an ankle sprain see a primary care physician first.  They don’t know how to examine these patients, and they don’t know how to treat them.  PTs have the knowledge and skill to screen, examine, and treat these patients most effectively.  I also see that PT can play a role in being specialists in the movement system.  Just like you see your physician, your dentist or your eye doctor on an annual basis, an annual visit to a PT could prevent many debilitating conditions as we age.

Interview done by: Rachel Troup and David Treichler