Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet Jen Wilcox

Meet Jen Wilcox, a teaching assistant for Saint Louis University’s Program in Physical Therapy, a triathlete, a fan of Anne Gunn’s, and a former gymnast. Read more to discover what Jen’s clinical experience has been like, what inspired her to be a TA, and what advice she would give to someone in their last professional year.

Where are you from? What is your family like?
I’m from St. Louis, MO…However my parents are from Vermont, so I was not raised with all the typical St Louis traditions. I have one younger brother; he’s a mechanical engineer in Milwaukee, WI.
What inspired you to pursue physical therapy?
I had various injuries as a young athlete competing in gymnastics and running cross country. I participated in my fair share of PT and this sparked my initial interest in the profession.

Where did you graduate from?

I received my undergraduate degree from SLU along with a minor in Psychology. I also received my PT degree from SLU which includes a Masters and DPT.

Jen’s dog, Addie
Are you a member of APTA?
As a student I was a member of APTA, however I currently am not a member.

What research have you been involved with?
I assisted with data collection during my time as a student at SLU for Mark Reinking & Ann Hayes’ research.

In what clinical settings have you participated in?
My clinical experience began with St. John’s Mercy Medical Center where I worked for 4 ½ years with inpatients. I later transitioned to a combination of inpatient and outpatient which lasted for about 6 months. I worked with Mercy Therapy Services for about 6 months concentrating in outpatient sports and women’s health. Since 2010 I have worked with CCCE for Mercy Hospital St. Louis, and I still currently work there.

Where do you assist at Saint Louis University and how long have you been there?
I have worked at SLU since 2005 and have enjoyed all the labs that I assisted in. Currently I am assisting in the Physical Agents II lab.

What types of service activities have you organized or participated in with regards to a local or national level?
At Saint Louis University I participated in the SLU Cross Country Turkey Trot 5K and the Hustle for your Health 5K.  In the community I participated in Backstoppers Charity Events, MS 150 Century Rides, and Dream Factory Holiday Shopping for children from Cardinal Glennon & St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

If you were not a physical therapist what would you be?
I would be a professional Triathlete…if my body would hold up.

Jen’s cats, Oliver and Shiloh
What is your favorite Saint Louis restaurant?
Anne Gunn’s     
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Lake Tahoe, CA
What is your favorite movie?  
Thomas Crown Affair

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Europe – plans to go this fall!

 What is your favorite area of physical therapy?
Women’s Health
What led you to Saint Louis University? What inspired you to be a TA?   Working with students in the university setting presents a different challenge from working with students as well as patients in the clinic.  It keeps me up to date with current teaching & research, and gives me a sense of pride that I can give back to a program that helped me become the professional woman I am today.

Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise your students to know about you? Any strange or interesting hobbies, activities, etc.?
I have been a long distance runner for many years.  I have completed 9 marathons, including Boston in 2007. I recently entered the world of triathlon and I am currently training for my 1st Ironman race in Louisville, KY in August 2012 where I will swim 2.4 miles in the Ohio River (yuck!), bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon 26.2 miles.  Did I mention it’s in August?!

Jen and her husband on a skiing trip
 Were you involved in a lot of physical activities as a child? Many sports?  
My dad was a collegiate gymnast & trained with several Olympians in the late 70’s/early 80’s.  The running joke in my family is that I was tumbling before walking.  I competed in gymnastics until I was 16 years old, and then coached gymnastics for 3 years while my running career took off.

What was your first job?  
My 1st job was as a “volunteer” at a preschool during the summer after 6th grade. I was only 12 years old, so the owners (family friends) couldn’t officially “hire” me until the following summer when I was 13 and could work limited hours under a special work permit.  My parents didn’t want me to sit at home & watch TV all day, and I argued that I was too old to go to day camp anymore.  So I would play with the preschoolers during the day, ride my bike to gymnastics practice, and then back to the preschool.

Jen with Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy students

What was your first job related to physical therapy?
My 1st PT job was working for Mark & Tricia as a tech in the student health center during the summer.  It was a great experience & I loved working with the athletes.

What would your advice be to a first year physical therapy student?  
Take it all in…have fun, but study hard.

What about someone in their last professional year?
Take advantage of the career services on campus while you can: mock interviews, resume proofing, job fairs & searches.  Give yourself a break if you can after your final clinical before studying & taking boards…you won’t forget everything you learned in a few weeks!

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