The Full Circle of Shenandoah’s Physical Therapy Program

The Full Circle of Shenandoah’s Physical Therapy Program

Karie Newman ’01, ’04 remembers the grueling years of studying physical therapy at Shenandoah just as if they happened yesterday. She can recall having little free time and spending so much of her time with classmates, that they were like family. Now, as the owner of Body Elite Physical Therapy in Winchester, which opened in 2003, Newman says she would do it all over again.

“In the end, it was all worth it, and I’m glad I did it,” said Newman.

Originally from Gettysburg, Pa., Newman felt at home the first time she visited Winchester. When applying to different graduate schools, she heard wonderful things about Shenandoah and couldn’t wait to see it for herself.

“I enjoyed the area a lot, and it reminded me of my hometown,” she said. “When I came for my interview, everyone was so nice and very welcoming. It seemed like the right place to be.”

Newman excelled in her class of 40 students and was ready to start her own practice just two years after completing her master’s (She completed her doctorate in 2004). Time spent in the classroom, in clinical rotations and at home studying were all a part of the journey that led to her success. Newman feels much appreciation toward Shenandoah and gives back to her alma mater by serving as a clinical instructor.

“Shenandoah gave me a wonderful education that thoroughly prepared me to be a physical therapist,” she explained. “To this day, I take a lot of students from Shenandoah. I’m a clinical instructor, and I know the kind of background these students bring to the job, because I went through it. They’ve always been exceptional and easy to work with.”

Newman feels Shenandoah has always looked out for her, and she loves that she can help students looking to dream big.

“I had some really wonderful clinical instructors when I was in school, and so I always knew I wanted to be one myself,” she said. “I’ve always received support from the faculty. Even now, they refer patients to me, which is a plus.”

On a daily basis, Newman enjoys treating her patients. Body Elite Physical Therapy is a small practice with four staff members. Each patient visit is one hour in length. This allows Newman and her staff to really get to know their patients and help them achieve positive results. She remembers one patient who could not walk, talk or feed herself. As a result of therapy with Newman and her staff, the patient learned to walk without her assistive device, communicate and perform her normal activities. “It was a long journey, but it was amazing,” said Newman.

Newman and her family love their life in Winchester, and she can see herself at Body Elite for a long time. She feels her business and Winchester are a perfect fit.

Shenandoah’s Division of Physical Therapy allowed Newman to gain the knowledge and skill set to start her own practice. Now, she shares her experience with Shenandoah physical therapy students, with whom she interacts each week. The Shenandoah alumna also continues to learn each day from the students that come to her practice.

“I learn something from every student I mentor, so even though I’m teaching them, I also learn so much from them,” Newman explained. “I love doing it, and I’ll continue to take students, especially from Shenandoah, because I know they are getting a great education.” 

Hands-on therapy

Shenandoah magazine managing editor Cathy Loranger reflects on her personal experience under the professional care of alumna and physical therapist Karie Newman and physical therapy student Natalia Carter.

I call them my “muscle whisperers.” In June, an aching left shoulder caused me to consider going to a physical therapist for the first time. I wanted to offer myself as a real-life subject for a Shenandoah PT student in a clinical setting. So I asked a colleague, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Missy Wolff-Burke, where I might find such an opportunity. I made an appointment at Body Elite Physical Therapy in Winchester, and that’s how I met alumna Karie Newman and second year PT graduate student Natalia Carter. 

A former dancer, Natalia was doing her clinical rotation under Newman’s watchful and  experienced eyes. Karie and Natalia immediately impressed me with their friendliness, attention to detail and professional camaraderie. During the first session, they listened to my symptoms and tested and isolated the problem. Natalia treated me, while Karie stepped in to demonstrate positions or offer advice. After six sessions, this dynamic duo helped me regain considerable flexibility in my shoulder and taught  me how to maintain better fitness in that area. It became clear to me, from personal experience, how Shenandoah PT students are so well prepared for their professional practice.