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Physical Therapy Graduate Turns Clinical Into Job

Lebanon Valley College physical therapy graduate Dakota Strohl

When the pandemic began in mid-March 2020, LVC physical therapy major Dakota Strohl ’18, D’20, was only about eight weeks into his 16-week clinical rotation. Rather than let that throw his plans off course, Strohl adjusted, excelled, and turned his rotation into a full-time job.

During his rotation at Robbins Rehab West, a private practice outpatient location, Strohl worked with as many therapists as possible, participated in continuing education classes, and studied additional topics on his own time. 

“I took the initiative to read and learn as much as I could. This resourcefulness showed my growth mindset, and the therapists saw my passion for trying to learn more than just the entry-level skills as a new clinician,” he said. 

Now, as a staff therapist, Dr. Strohl evaluates new patients, develops plans of care, supervises physical therapist assistants and therapy aides, communicates with physicians and case managers on worker's compensation cases, collaborates with other therapists, and participates in projects that further advance the company’s growth.

Strohl cites his employers, coworkers, and patients as the favorite parts of his job, but especially the positive change he can promote in a patient’s life. It’s more than he ever thought possible when he was a student.

“I have had people already tell me that they thought they were going to be a prisoner to their pain,” said Strohl, who also passed his physical therapy board exams. “Some patients believed they would not function properly, walk without pain, or play with their grandkids again. I helped patients through all  these issues, and in doing so, I provided patients with a new self-confidence as they returned to activities they once thought were lost forever.”

In addition to his time with Robbins Rehab West, Strohl credits an earlier clinical rotation at Coordinated Health for enhancing his skills. There, he developed a strong foundation for outpatient orthopedics thanks to a dedicated clinical instructor.

“The most important benefits from these clinical experiences away from the classroom are developing communication skills, enhancing your therapeutic skillset of exercises and hands-on care, and building upon your entry-level knowledge base. Without these out-of-classroom experiences, I would not have the confidence as the clinician I am today.”