I was born and raised in Santa Cruz CA and now live and work on the westside, 2 blocks away from the house I grew up in. I graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 2003, received my Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology with a Pre-PT focus at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2007 and my Masters in Physical Therapy at Long Beach State in 2010. I went straight into an Orthopedic Residency through Kaiser Southern California during which I was in a serious accident. I completed the residency, passed the specialty exam and then traveled around the world for most of 2012 after which I settled back in Santa Cruz (lets face it, there’s no place like home). I worked for a handful of outpatient orthopedic clinics throughout Santa Cruz County before starting my own business in 2015.
I prioritize two things in my profession: individualized, one-on-one, quality care and continued education with an emphasis on professional growth. The unfortunate fact is that it is hard to maintain these two things in a clinic run by insurance companies. The design is flawed or more over, our insurance system is backwards. After re-living the same story over and over again, I was tired of treatment times being cut, patients being pushed over to under-qualified aides and insurance reimbursement dictating what treatment I was and wasn’t allowed to give. I opened up my own practice in order to guarantee that at the end of everyday, I know I have given the best possible care to each and every one of my patients. In order to make sure of this, I will never hire, expand or double book, and I will never take insurance as long as it functions in its current state.
I have always been an over-achiever. I would like to blame my parents for something but I think it is just how I am wired. It started with an obsession for math in high school. I love problem solving especially when there is a right and wrong answer. The human body isn’t quite like a math equation but the same process is involved. There is a problem and there is a solution. What makes the human body more exciting and sometimes more challenging is that every body is different. I love this. A lot of my success can be attributed to my constant need to learn. I am continually adding to my toolbox because I believe each individual responds differently to different techniques. What works for one person, doesn’t work for the next so I will never feel my toolbox is full. Experience is another factor of my success. I have seen a lot of people with a lot of different injuries and conditions. Sometimes a technique will work not because research said it would but because it has worked in the past. More than anything though, I think most of my success is due to my bottomless curiosity and my desire to help people. I am the happiest version of myself when I am dealing with complex patients who really want to be a better version of themselves. I can relate to that.
About every 2 years I get bored and start reaching for something new. This has been great for my professional development and my ever expanding toolbox. Maybe not so great for my husband. Over the years, what’s going on in my life often influences which direction I take. The previously mentioned accident and subsequent chronic pain made me interested in pain science and management of contributors like stress and diet. Coaching soccer for the high school and then working as their athletic trainer led me to seek more information on injury prevention, functional movement and sports performance. Seeing a high number of injured crossfitters put me in the CrossFit Level 1 course which completely changed my perspective of the sport. Lifting, specifically lifting heavy, was game changing for my back pain and I have since become an advocate for lifting as being essential to health and wellness. I later got into individualized programming for clients of all levels and goals including perinatal women. Then I embarked on maybe the one “job” that will never get boring, parenthood. Naturally, I became more interested in the pelvic floor and perinatal care while pregnant. I became a Pelvic Physical Therapist and immediately became an educator because the lack of information out there is astonishing. Having just been through it myself, I became invested in filling the gaps that every mother goes through. I started Mom Strong Santa Cruz to fill the void in educated functional strength opportunities for mothers. It later became an educational movement to train as many gyms as possible so a mom (or future mom) can one day walk into any gym in Santa Cruz County and be taken care of in any stage of pregnancy or postpartum.
But as always, when I fill one gap I become acutely aware of another one. Most recently I have dived into the realm of functional medicine because often pain is just one of many symptoms my patient is experiencing and its an injustice to treat them within the narrow scope of the musculoskeletal system. I am partnering with companies invested in making products that are effective but also good for our bodies and the environment. I am also gathering tools and honing my skills to address the intangible effects of stress and trauma within the brain and body. I am learning to tap into the power we hold within to heal ourselves and while I never thought I would dive into this energetic voodoo magic world, I have to admit I am more energized, excited and optimistic about this than any other tool in my toolbox.
Master of Physical Therapy, California State University Long Beach
Gray Institute (Gary Gray)