Kat Denlinger, PT, DPT, is a dynamic and passionate pediatric resident.
“I always knew I wanted to work with children,” Denlinger said. “The variety of diagnoses, opportunities for complex critical thinking, and the need for creativity are a constant challenge in pediatric physical therapy.”
Denlinger, who’s originally from Rochester, Minnesota, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Luther College in 2012 and went on to physical therapy school at Northwestern University in Chicago, graduating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) in 2015. Excited to gain clinical experience and skills, she worked for two years as a pediatric and adult physical therapist in neurology at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), prior to starting her residency program.
Denlinger chose to attend the Johns Hopkins Hospital/the George Washington University (JHH-GW) pediatric residency. “I was seeking the opportunity for mentorship, continuing education, and exposure to various clinical settings,” she said. “I want to grow my clinical skills in a well-respected medical system providing opportunities for research and involvement with teaching.”
Denlinger’s goal is to become a specialist in pediatrics and an expert clinician. “It requires more than successful handling techniques and exercise prescription to be an expert practitioner,” she said. “Deeper clinical thinking and analysis [and] reflection and ongoing modification to one’s daily physical therapy practice is needed. That is how the residency is supporting my professional journey to specialization.”
After two years of full-time clinical practice, Denlinger said it has been challenging to get back into a routine with a rigorous academic program. But she is taking advantage of every learning opportunity in acute care, pediatric intensive care, inpatient rehabilitation, and early intervention. Her days include attending lectures, in-services, and specialized clinics at JHH. What’s the most valuable aspect of her residency? Collaborating with different mentors who each approach treatment and education uniquely. Denlinger said her mentor team has helped expand her knowledge base when treating all pediatric patients, including helping her understand different levels of medical complexity and functional presentation.
Denlinger will complete her residency in September 2018.