Graduating physical therapy student excited by the opportunity to help others live the lives they love
When Kevin Hamilton thinks about what’s next following his graduation from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the School of Health Professions this spring, he is struck by all the possibilities.
“I want to continue to challenge myself working in different settings,” he said. “The human body’s capacity to move and interact with its environment is a cornerstone of how we view life and experience life. I feel very thankful to be in a health care profession where I can help people get back to the life they want to live.”
“I have a pretty wide horizon as far as what I want to do,” he said, adding that he enjoyed a wide range of clinical rotations from acute care in the hospital to outpatient clinics.
From stage to bedside
Physical therapy is a second act for Hamilton, who was just 4 years old when he started taking dance classes in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. He accepted his first professional job with the Milwaukee Ballet after high school graduation and went on to dance with the Cincinnati Ballet and the Dayton Ballet. But along the way, injuries prompted him to consider making a career switch that allowed him to focus on movement from an entirely different perspective.
“My own injuries and watching my colleagues’ rehab after injury got me interested in how the body moves,” he said.
Beyond the classroom and clinical rotations, Hamilton has learned from his classmates as well.
“I had my own identity about what physical therapy meant to me and why I’m pursuing it,” Hamilton said. “It’s been really rewarding to also learn more from my classmates and other students in the School of Health Professions. I’m optimistic and feel fortunate to join the health care profession with so many passionate individuals.”
Making things better through leadership
While at UT Health San Antonio, Hamilton has taken on numerous leadership positions within his program, school and the university. He has served as president of the 2021-2022 Student Government Association at UT Health San Antonio and of the Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP)–SA chapter. He served as treasurer of the Texas Student Physical Therapy Association and was one of 10 students to complete the first Student Leadership Development Program sponsored by the Texas Society of Allied Health Professions.
“I feel like I’m drawn to leadership positions because I have seen both when leadership goes well and maybe when there’s been some room for improvement,” he said. “Through leadership I have a better lever to make improvements as part of a team than as I do as an individual. I think of leadership as a necessary tool to find solutions to problems.”
Hamilton also was a co-recipient of a UT Health San Antonio Community Service and Learning grant for “Tango Together,” an adaptive dance program for people living with dementia and their caregivers, and he volunteered with Race Guards, a nonprofit that provides in-race first aid support for running, cycling and other athletic events.
David Henzi, EdD, associate dean for student affairs in the School of Health Professions, praised Hamilton’s dedication to leadership, community service and student advocacy.
“Kevin’s advocacy was highlighted when he was voted by his peers as the president of SGA,” Dr. Henzi said. “In this role, he was responsible for reviewing and developing policy that would assist current and future UT Health San Antonio medical, dental, nursing, graduate and health professions students — a leadership role made more challenging because of student COVID-19 restrictions.”
It’s not uncommon for PT students with their own sports injury background to gravitate toward orthopaedics and sports medicine, said Hamilton, noting that his clinical rotations have expanded his own area of interest when it comes to specialties within the profession.
“I think from the sports medicine side of things it’s about returning back to your full function — running faster, throwing farther and kicking harder,” he said. “But it’s also pretty significant to have someone be able to safely ambulate, prevent falls and improve function to get to where they need to be.”