Jennifer Kelly '15HS Combines Passion for PT and Art

March 09, 2016

Jen Kelly

We asked Jen, a DPT alumna, some questions about what she's up to now!

What made you want to become a Physical Therapist?

I studied art for my undergraduate degree and then became a personal trainer. Physical Therapy was a way for me to combine the creative problem solving I learned at art school and my passion for exercise to improve people’s movement and function.

What made you choose Simmons for your Doctor of Physical Therapy?

Simmons was a warm and welcoming environment and I felt at home right away.

What was your favorite class at Simmons? Why?

I loved gross anatomy. It was a stressful time, trying to adjust to PT school, the workload and exams. But it was the most impactful class. I still envision the structures we dissected when I treat patients. It’s the closest you can get to having x-ray vision!

Where do you work now?

FlexPlus Physical Therapy in Natick, MA

What is a typical day like at your job?

Our patient population varies, and I love it! It keeps me on my toes. I’ve treated children as young as 4, high school kids with sports injuries and elderly patients with gait and balance disorders. There's never a dull moment.

How did Simmons prepare you for your current job?

I learned the core skills needed to begin my career. The emphasis Simmons places on the bio-psycho-social model (shout-out to Jim Huddleston!) of managing pain and behavior change is something I incorporate everyday. It seems insignificant when you are in the trenches of PT school, trying to pass exams and memorize cranial nerves, but when you get into the clinic you realize that pain and dysfunction are multi-factorial and are intertwined with peoples’ emotions and lifestyles.

How have you combined passion for art and PT?

I've always enjoyed painting and drawing magnified images that focus on the texture/pattern/color that often go unnoticed in nature. I've painted patterns of fish, leaves, feathers, and now I'm directing my inspiration more toward the human body and anatomy.

How do you choose the subject of your paintings?

I look at my textbooks or microscopic images and think about how I can make something that is medical and sterile into a work of art. I want people to look at my paintings, see color and pattern and view it as decoration, and then be surprised that it represents a part of themselves.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a series of drawings of capillaries. I love the woven pattern of the vessels. My hope is to start marketing and selling prints of my paintings to medical offices so that instead of walking into your orthopedist's office and seeing a still life of some flowers, you could look at artistic renderings of osteocytes, and at your hematologist’s, artistic renderings of red blood cells, etc.

What advice do you have for students in their final year of Simmons DPT program?

Get on social media and start connecting with other professionals. There are so many smart people out there to learn from. The "Doctor of Physical Therapy Students" Facebook page is a great place to start. And figure out Twitter, and then someone teach me (@JenKelly_PT) because I'm still working on it. I think having an online presence is becoming more and more important to potential employers. It shows you’re passionate and engaged. 

You can check out Jen’s artwork online