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Katie Fitzgerald ‘opens doors’ at CTF 

Katie Fitzgerald ‘opens doors’ at CTF 

CANTON, Ohio – Katie Fitzgerald says the Clinician Task Force, where she is a new executive board member, is a good place to channel her passions for advocacy, data and what she calls “knowledge translation.” 

Fitzgerald, PT, DPT, NCS, teaches in the physical therapy program at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, but prior to making the switch to academia, she was a clinician for 15 years. 

HME News: How did you get interested in specializing in complex rehab technology? 

Katie Fitzgerald: In school, I was really lucky to have a couple of faculty members who were neuro specialists and so we got more exposure than was typical at the time to medically complex patients. It prepared me well for my first job as the primary therapist on a long-term care unit where therapy hadn’t really been present. 

HME: How did you make therapy part of the lives of those patients? 

Fitzgerald: We needed specialized chairs to meet that goal of getting them out of bed, moving them through the continuum and getting better health outcomes, and I had a management team that was supportive. It was around that time that Medicare was doing competitive bidding and that was a hard lesson in how the medical system actually works. But it put a fire in me to advocate and to understand the benefits of participating in a professional organization and their role in advocating for us as professionals and for patients. 

HME: Why get involved in a leadership capacity at the CTF, specifically? 

Fitzgerald: For me, a lot of it is, I still want to learn and the best way to do that is to surround yourself with people who are doing what you (wish to) emulate. Initially, I didn’t know what all the routes for advocacy in my state were, or how I could participate on a national level or how to be involved in policy change. The CTF opens doors for our members to contribute in so many ways but also not make it overwhelming. 

HME: There are a number of challenges in complex rehab, but is there one that you’re more passionate about addressing? 

Fitzgerald: One reason I’m in academia is for knowledge translation and to let students know there is a whole other world of specialization out there. I love data and am helping with some of the scoping reviews the CTF is doing. I’m passionate about doing research to support the profession and to advocate for end users. 


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