Shirley Sahrmann Discuss Her Career in Physical Therapy

I recently had the opportunity to meet Dr. Shirley Sahrmann, Professor of Physical Therapy, at one of her courses in St. Louis. I was able to ask her a series of questions on a wide range of topics. This is the third and final part of that interview series.

In the first two interviews, Dr. Sahrmann discussed her exercise program and approach to aging well, and her thoughts on the future of physical therapy/physiotherapy. In this third installment, I ask Dr. Sahrmann what has been the most satisfying part of her career and have there been any disappointments.

A Satisfying Career in Physical Therapy

Dr. Sahrmann has had a long, productive, and distinguished career in physical therapy/physiotherapy. Very few physical therapists/physiotherapists have touched as many patients and physical therapists/physiotherapists as Dr. Sahrmann.

In her interview, she notes that she started her career during end of the polio epidemic and is still actively participating in the profession today. She has seen the physical therapy/physiotherapy profession progress dramatically.

When she started her career she was happy to be a “medical cheerleader” encouraging patients to stand and walk. Now she sees how physical therapists/physiotherapists contribute to people’s health, quality of life, and longevity.

Dr. Sahrmann notes that every part of her career has been satisfying. How can you not love your profession when you are helping people get better, when you are so involved with people so smart and dedicated, and when you have people working hard to advance the body of knowledge of physical therapy/physiotherapy to make life better for everybody?

Where She Would Like to See More Progress

Dr. Sahrmann is not disappointed with anything associated with her profession or career. But she is impatient with the slow progress on certain fronts.

She notes that she has been promoting the diagnosis role for physical therapists/physiotherapists for the past 30 years. She would like to see faster progress in this area!

From Technical Trade to Profession

She has seen physical therapy/physiotherapy transition successfully from a technical trade to a profession and believes that this was significant event for the profession.

It was an honour to meet with Dr. Sahrmann and get her perspective on these issues. I truly enjoyed meeting her and feel privileged to share this information with my fellow physical therapists/physiotherapists.