Marquette alumna recognized for contributions to physical therapy

Photo courtesy of Tina Stoeckmann
Photo courtesy of Tina Stoeckmann

The phrase “Rookie of the Year” is synonymous with people who become exceptionally great early in their careers.

Liz Scott, a doctor of physical therapy who graduated from Marquette’s PT program in 2010, is just that. The Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association named her the organization’s 2012 Rookie of the Year last week.

Scott, a Whitefish Bay native, said she was honored and humbled to receive the award. She said she had not even know she was nominated.

The criterion for the award, according to the WPTA website, is that the recipient has contributed to the profession through clinical practice or service; Scott received the award for her work in clinical practice.

The award has been given since 1996 to physical therapists to who have made significant contributions to physical therapy within three years of graduation, according to the WPTA website.

Scott said she recently relocated to work for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. She said she was hired to develop its outpatient neurological rehab program to benefit those with neurological diagnoses.

“It is a rare opportunity to start a program from the ground up, and I am excited for this new endeavor,” Scott said.

Scott said she is hoping to develop an outpatient Parkinson’s exercise group like the one she assisted with at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Before working in Chicago, Scott started her physical therapy career at West Allis Memorial Hospital, where she served as an aide while still in school. She was later offered a full-time position with Marquette’s neurologic residency program and the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

She said she had phenomenal mentors throughout her experiences at West Allis, but in the end she had the deepest connection with the patients who had neurological-related diagnoses.

“It was throughout PT school and my interactions with patients of all types of diagnoses that I realized that the neurological population is one in which there is the most potential to positively impact someone’s life on a daily basis,” Scott said. “There aren’t many jobs available in which you, as a professional, can have an impact on others each day just by doing your job.”

Besides the new program she is developing in Chicago, Scott said she also sees herself teaching future therapists, whether it is at Silver Cross Hospital or in the classroom.

“I hope to have found a teaching opportunity in the Chicago area that is comparable to the one I had while in Milwaukee,” Scott said. “My passion for the education of the future of our profession lies in both the clinical instruction and didactic education of the students.”

Scott said when she found out who nominated her – one of her Marquette professors – she was incredibly humbled.

“Each of the women who contributed to my nomination have touched me in a particular way and have significantly contributed to me becoming the physical therapist that I am today,” Scott said. “I would not be the person I am professionally without each of them. It is an honor to know that they have the confidence in me to nominate me for such a significant award.”

Tina Stoeckmann, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences, nominated Scott for the award. Stoeckmann is also the neurologic residency program coordinator at Marquette.

“We are really excited she got this award, and she is very deserving,” Stoeckmann said. “She is exactly the kind of person they had in mind when they wrote this type of recognition.”

Stoeckmann said she nominated Scott for the award because of everything she has accomplished so far.

“She’s already head and shoulders above the other professionals in her age group or peer group,” Stoeckmann said. “She has accomplished so much already, and she’s such a dynamic, positive, outgoing person that she gets involved in her community; she takes on leadership roles. She is just that type of person, so I think there is no stopping her.”

Stoeckmann said she first had Scott in class in 2009 and that Scott was already standing out from other students early in her academic career.

“She asked great questions. She followed up with outside projects. … I thought she was fantastic enough that I kept her on to be my lab supervisor for the class,” Stoeckmann said.

Scott returned praise for Stoeckmann, saying that professors in the physical therapy department made her Marquette experience unforgettable.

“They were mentors from the very first day of the program,” Scott said. “I continue to reach out to many of them for guidance and mentorship and believe that I was able to build bonds that will carry me through my PT career.”

Scott said another influence was the friendships she made throughout the program.

“I am now married to a fellow Marquette graduate, Donald Scott, and the number of Marquette graduates and students who were at our wedding is evidence of the strong bonds that were formed during my years at Marquette,” Scott said. “It’s truly priceless.”

Stoeckmann said Scott is an incredible person, whether it is because of how she cares for her patients or how she goes about her daily life.

“If you get a chance to meet her, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; if you don’t get that chance, you missed out on something you don’t even know is great,” Stoeckmann said.

Stoekmann said that Scott’s personality is contagious, much like her laugh.

“She was always very bubbly, very positive – she had an easy laugh,” Stoeckmann said. “But she also occasionally has a little snort in her laugh, so when she laughs, she makes everybody else laugh. That follows her wherever she goes.”

Stoeckmann said in five years she could see Scott in a leadership position in her community and profession.

“Her strength through college laid the foundation, but the things that she has done in the last couple of years since she graduated have, too,” Stoeckmann said. “It’s further support for the fact that she is just going to continue to explode. She is just going to keep getting better and better as she grows professionally and personally because she is just such a neat person.”

Correction: The print version of this article, found on page one of the April 2 Tribune and entitled “Alumna honored as physical therapy Rookie of the Year,” included a photo of Liz Scott, a Marquette alumna who studied physical therapy. The woman pictured was not the same Liz Scott featured in the article, however; the Liz Scott featured in the article was known as Liz Burns during her time at Marquette. A photo of the correct Liz Scott is included above. A previous version of this article also mistakenly reported that Liz Scott was offered a full-time position at West Allis Memorial Hospital. Scott in fact served as an aide at the hospital; she was offered a full-time position after graduation with Marquette’s neurologic residency program and the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. The Tribune regrets the errors.