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Adventure is the Best Medicine: LVC Alum Reflects on Life After Graduation

Physical therapy graduate Tyler Gilson talks about practicing PT in Alaska.

Tyler Gilson, D ’10 prides himself on being a rather adventurous person who combines work with play. As a child, Gilson enjoyed letting some of his high energy out through wrestling. Unfortunately, he suffered from a knee injury during one of his practices and needed physical therapy (PT) to help his recovery. While in PT, Gilson took notice of the doctors around him and gained a growing interest in what would soon become his career. 

“Growing up, a family member was a physical therapist for Joyner Sports Medicine. Coincidentally, Jim Martin, a wrestling champion, had office space in that clinic. I naturally looked up to both of them and still do. The injury and interaction with them planted the seed of a career in physical therapy,” said Gilson. 

Gilson decided to transfer to LVC’s doctoral program after obtaining his undergraduate degree in exercise science. 

“I knew I wanted to go for physical therapy, but I also knew that it was a competitive field to enter,” reflected Gilson. “I am extremely grateful that I was able to gain a seat in LVC’s program.”

When it came time to gain clinical experience, LVC faculty helped him secure a placement at SEARHC, a Native American health clinic in Juneau, Alaska. While in the field, Gilson gained hands-on experience and knowledge of how healthcare providers interact and approach the care of their beneficiaries. 

“My experience was unique in that, at that time, all healthcare providers were under one roof and functioned as a team to provide healthcare for the Native American health beneficiaries,” recalled Gilson. “As a student, the exposure allowed for a more concrete vision of the moving parts and what each discipline can add to an episode of patient care.”

After graduation, Gilson took a year to settle down and work before taking his career on-the-go and starting a traveling therapy business. 

“Travel physical therapy allowed me shorter-term contract work and the ability to travel and pursue hunting and fishing, two of my favorite hobbies,” Gilson said. “For the next three years, I traveled between Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania, working in acute, sub-acute, outpatient, and long-term care settings.”

His travels came to a pause when Gilson accepted a full-time position in Sitka, Alaska, where he remained for the next three years working in primary outpatient care. During this time, Gilson developed a side business to help the nearby rural school districts. 

“I independently contracted with local school districts to provide a therapist in the school setting,” said Gilson. “I also aided in the development of gross motor plans for students who have delays.”

Although he enjoyed his adventures in Alaska, Gilson married in 2017 and relocated back to Pennsylvania, where he plans to focus more on family, hobbies, and discovering where he would like to take his career next. 

“I do not have any immediate or concrete plans, but I know that my goal is to blend the lines between my interests of hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventures with fitness and my profession,” Gilson said. “I want work to be closer to play.” 

 

-- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant