Alumni spotlight: Kari R. Smith, D.P.T.’04

Professional background

I became a certified athletic trainer in 1996 after graduating from South Dakota State University. I earned my masters of science degree from DMU in 1998 and completed the post professional doctorate of physical therapy program in 2004. I worked for six years in private practice clinics in east Des Moines and Altoona before joining DMU. Now I work in the Physical Therapy Clinic at DMU. I am currently the PT clinic manager, clinician, and Pilates instructor for 50% of my job and the other 50% is at DMU in the Post Professional DPT program as an assistant professor. I coordinate the Orientation and Manual Therapy Interventions courses and teach the Pathology of Clinical Medicine and Clinical Medicine Systems courses.

Favorite part of my job

I love to be a part of both the clinic and the academic settings. It is energizing to work with patients and with peers in the clinic. I enjoy facilitating the development of the PT clinic and providing opportunities for professional development of the PT clinic staff. Working in the PPDPT program, I have enjoyed the challenge of facilitating the students’ learning and retention in an online environment. I have also enjoyed the stimulating environment for professional development and learning opportunities for faculty and staff.

Advice to those just starting out in the profession

Always remember the professional core values of a PT (accountability, altruism, compassion/caring, excellence, integrity, social responsibility, professionalism) and reflect on how you can improve upon each of them throughout your career. I would also recommend for someone starting a career as a PT to find a mentor who will challenge you to do your best and to continue to grow.

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