If you have had the pleasure to work with JJ Mowder-Tinney in any capacity, you know that she is a frequent traveler - it seems like she is always arriving home from one seminar, or on her way to another conference! On her most recent of trips, JJ was the recipient of an award at APTA's CSM, in San Antonio Texas. The Excellence in Education Award from the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, is a testament to the years of dedication and passion JJ has shown for the physical therapy industry, but specifically teaching and enriching the lives and careers of others - both students and professionals.
When JJ isn't on the road to give a presentation, or attend a seminar, she keeps busy with her position at Nazareth College of Physical Therapy, and as Secretary of the NYPTA. Between all of her trips and physical therapy responsibilities, JJ is happy to get some time at home with her two golden retrievers and her husband. Take some time and get to know JJ Mowder-Tinney, this month's member spotlight.
Congratulations on the award you received! Please tell us what it feels like to be the recipient of the Excellence in Education Award from the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy for 2016, and exactly what this means to you.
I am absolutely thrilled to have received this award. I am extremely grateful to the student who initiated the process and the colleagues who wrote recommendation letters for me. Honestly, this award is a dream for me! Like all of us in this profession, I have a passion to make a positive impact on people’s lives. My desire when I went into teaching was to use that medium to reach even more patients. I found I truly loved not only teaching students, but also professionals. The reciprocal learning opportunities make it very exciting. This award encourages me to continue to follow my passions of learning and teaching and helping others.
Tell us a little about your background, and how your path lead you to where you are in your career today.
My path started when I was a child. I grew up in my mom’s physical therapy clinic in Colorado. She started a private practice when I was very small and as soon as I was big enough to get the hot packs out of the machine without burning myself, I was working 12-hour days in the summer! I may have been a little young when I started giving ultrasounds, and I was taking people in the pool by the time I was 13, but I loved every minute of it. I went to University of Colorado in Boulder to get my Bachelors in Psychology. When people ask me why I picked a Psychology degree, I always joke and respond, “ Because I grew up in my mom’s clinic!” After receiving my PT degree in Miami, Florida, I moved to Rochester NY and worked at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I made my way through different units but was very drawn to people with neuromuscular diseases. It was such an honor to work with these people; I was so humbled as I watched how they would persevere, even after being through so much. It made me want to work even harder. This lead to my addiction to attending courses and continual learning.
You are an active member of the NYPTA – most recently you were the chair of the Program Committee and have been serving as the association secretary for the past several years. Can you tell us how membership in your professional associations has enhanced your career?
It was a good fit for me to start in the program committee, given my experience with providing professional development courses to therapists. This committee was the perfect beginning. It exposed me to the BOD meeting process, and all of the benefits that the NYPTA provides. When I was approached to run for secretary, I was very hesitant. I wasn’t sure I would have enough experience to make a meaningful contribution. But, I learned that everyone has something to contribute. This is one of the things that makes the organization great. NYPTA works at its best when many voices and perspectives are heard. That may be what I am most grateful for… meeting a variety of amazing and dedicated professionals. They volunteer their time with the desire to make our profession better and to make a difference.
You seem to wear many hats – as an educator in a university, a national presenter, and an officer of the association. How do you manage all of these demanding aspects of your career?
Instead of children I have golden retrievers. That frees up a lot of time! But seriously, I have an amazing husband! He has always been extremely supportive of my traveling and my tendency to work a lot. I am also grateful for my family and friends who are tolerant of my schedule and always find a way to be my cheering section.
What is your favorite hobby or past time, and how have you incorporated that into your career if at all?
I love to learn. One of my biggest hobbies is traveling and attending a variety of courses. Whenever my husband drops me off at the airport, he asks me if we are getting paid for this trip, or if we are paying for it. Overall, we break even. I love learning and taking that knowledge back to both the students and the therapists. As for my favorite past time, my husband and I love to have parties in the summer and bring a variety of friends together for a stress free night of friendship and laughter. And a bonfire or two…
What advice would you give to a young professional, or a student of physical therapy as they embark on this career path?
I would ask them to embrace learning. Never settle. Continually search for ways to become a better therapist and improve patient care.
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