In October 2017, Section on Women’s Health for the first time ever announced a scholarship opportunity that was specifically offered to early-professional members. As part of the scholarship, the selected candidate would receive one early-bird Combined Sections Meeting conference registration and three hotel nights in New Orleans, Louisiana in February 2018. Section on Women’s Health was very impressed by the number and quality of the applications received during the October submission window. Physical therapists with zero to five years of physical therapy practice experience applied for this opportunity and after long consideration, the top candidate was finally selected to receive the scholarship. Section on Women’s Health proudly welcomes Natalie Kiefer, PT, DPT of Warm Springs, Oregon to attend 2018 Combined Sections Meeting as the 2018 CSM Early-Professional Scholarship recipient.
Stay tuned for Christina’s post-CSM report on her experience!
About Natalie Kiefer
Natalie Kiefer, PT, DPT, has been practicing as a physical therapist for just over one year. While in graduate school at Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon, Natalie participated as one of a handful of PT students in the country receiving a scholarship from the Indian Health Service scholarship program. Through her commitment to this program, Natalie began working after graduation for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, a Native American community in Central Oregon. In Warm Springs, there have never been physical therapy services available on the reservation, making access to therapy services in the community very limited. Natalie became the only full-time physical therapist, with supplemental staff coverage as needed contracted from a clinic in a nearby town. Because of the rural nature of their service, Natalie saw a huge variety of conditions. It became more apparent after being open for the first 6 months. Natalie’s staff needed to be prepared to treat any condition within the PT’s scope of practice.
Natalie had a passion for women’s health for a while, stemming from her previous experience working as a Fertility Care Practitioner, educating women on their health and fertility. During her time there, Natalie heard many women reporting pelvic health issues that were not addressed because they did not know about the scope of pelvic health physical therapy.
“Similarly, in my work as a physical therapist in Warm Springs, women have reported other issues to me usually while I am treating their shoulder, knee, or something else unrelated. Women would tell me about experiencing pelvic pain, incontinence, prolapse, and other issues, ” says Natalie.
In every case that Natalie had come across, the patients have not received any physical therapy treatment and have either immediately begun using medications or have had pelvic surgeries, if their condition was addressed at all. With a brewing passion for helping these women access the healthcare they need, Natalie has recently joined the Section on Women’s Health and attended the Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Level 1 and Level 2 courses all while in her third trimester of pregnancy.
Natalie is excited to get started on her journey to becoming a specialist in pelvic health physical therapy to improve the health outcomes and quality of life of the patients that she works with in the rural community. “This service is desperately needed, and no other therapist that comes to the clinic is equipped or comfortable with treating these conditions,” says Natalie.
Since Natalie’s daily work schedule consists of being the only full-time physical therapy at her clinic on the reservation, she has little access to daily mentorship from more experiences physical therapist colleagues. In addition to that, the closest physical therapists that offer pelvic health services are over an hour away. Natalie is thrilled to attend the 2018 APTA Combined Sections Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana to connect more deeply to the rest of the physical therapy community of experienced providers and to seek mentorship that can help her serve this historically underserved population more appropriately.
Watch Natalie’s Video Submission