#WCW: Connie Kittleson, PT, DPT

Connie Kittleson, PT, DPT

This week our WomanCrushWednesday is a person near and dear to the heart of our founder, Rachel Jermann. She’s President of the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, acute care physical therapist, and the person who taught Rachel how to keep asking “why.”

  1. Where did you attend school? 

I received my BS in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my MPT from Marquette University and my tDPT from Concordia University Wisconsin.

Little known fact:  I did take classes at UW-Milwaukee for a bit including African Dance.  My instructor was Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, founder of the Ko-Thi Dance Company. Check it out – they are awesome!

  1. How did you get into the role that you have now? 

I was invited by Reenie Kavalar to have dinner with the trustees of the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Fund to hear about the work that they do as the charitable arm of the WPTA.  Before the evening was over, I was told I was on the board.  A few years later when the chair stepped down, I was told I was the new chair.  Truth be told, by that point I LOVED being involved with the WPTA.  The position of Secretary for the Board of Directors of WPTA was open and the President at the time, Michele Thorman, encouraged me to pursue the position.  It wasn’t right for me at that moment as I was in the process of getting my tDPT, but once life calmed down I ran for Secretary for 2 terms, then Vice President for 2 terms and now President.  It is amazing to see the work that is done both at the state and the national level on behalf of our profession.  Staying connected has been incredibly rewarding

What is the story behind your success?

I’ve never really thought about my life or career in terms of “success”.  I don’t know if I am successful.  I know that I love what I do.  Also, because of the many amazing mentors that I have had both clinically and professionally, I think I’m generally pretty darn good at it. (Wink)  If being successful is positively impacting my patients and profession while enjoying myself, then I guess I am successful, but I sure didn’t get here alone.

What’s your typical day look like? 

Ha!  I don’t have a typical day.  Every day I get up and have to figure out who I am – at least for the portion of the day.  I might spend the morning responding to issues related to being Chapter President, preparing for a meeting or addressing a legislative issue.  I might work at the hospital all day.  It could be a day where I am teaching in one of the PT programs in Wisconsin.  I may also spend the day doing nothing related to PT.  I volunteer at my sons’ schools and I am a board member or their education foundation, so I might just be planning a 5K color run or other type of fundraiser.  Being a physical therapist has rewarded me with the flexibility to choose a variety of different roles in my life.  Every day is different.

How do you feel you’ve made a difference in the PT world?

I like to think that I have had an impact on students in two areas.  First, I hope I inspire engagement in the profession.  Also, I emphasize taking responsibility for your clinical decisions, having the evidence to defend your position and intelligently interacting with the healthcare team while learning and teaching about what is best for your patient.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge we will face as a profession in the next 5 years?

DEBT.  I worry about the amount of debt that students are accruing.  That combined with reimbursement challenges makes me wonder how students are going to manage paying off their loans and still remain engaged members of the APTA.  When budgets are tight, membership seems at first like an easy thing to give up, but I think that leads to a lack of current information and “connectedness” to the profession and some of its brightness most inspiring members.

How do you relax/unwind from being such a Bad ass?

It depends on the day.  I might go for a run, play trivial pursuit with the family or just kick back with a glass of wine…or two.

Who’s your #WomanCrushWednesday or if male inspiration, #mcm?

IRL, I have so many women that inspire me… Reenie Kavalar, Michele Thorman, Kathy Zalewski, Sue Griffin, Sarah Stineman and of course, Rachel Jermann, just to name a handful.

Otherwise, it’s totally Alice from Resident Evil!

You can find Connie on Twitter @campkittleson. Check out the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association here. Check out all our #WCW here.