Alum finds success as doctor of physical therapy

Alum finds success as doctor of physical therapy
Posted on 11/23/2021
Alum finds success as doctor of physical therapy

As a high school junior, Whitney McGinn decided to enroll in EVIT’s Massage Therapy program because she was looking for a one-year class with a focus on anatomy. Twelve years later, she is a doctor of physical therapy for the Barrow Neurological Institute at the Muhammad Ali Movement Disorders Center in Phoenix.

“EVIT opened the first of many doors that eventually led me to receive my doctoral degree,” Dr. McGinn said.

She is an example of how career and technical education can take a student’s interest and start them on a path to a career they will love. After EVIT, McGinn worked as a licensed massage therapist, but over time, she realized she wanted to move into a related field: physical therapy.

“I never saw myself working in a spa environment; I was far more interested in a medical setting,” she said. “I sought opportunities to learn more which led me to work for a physical therapy clinic. I fell in love with the field and had the opportunity to work with semi-professional athletes and individuals with orthopedic and neurologic diagnoses.”

“The most memorable experience was working with an individual diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease),” she said. “I provided comfort care through massage therapy from diagnosis to one week before his passing, which ignited my interest in neurology.”

McGinn graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science before going on to earn her doctorate in physical therapy from A.T. Still University in Mesa. She earned certifications specific to Parkinson’s disease treatment and completed her clinical rotation at the Barrow Neurological Institute, where she continues to work full-time today. 

At the Barrow institute, McGinn is part of the Movement Disorders and Neuroimmunology teams, working with patients with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus and other conditions. 

“Every patient, every case, and every story is different,” she said. “I enjoy leading patients on how to take charge of their life, and to not let their diagnosis become their identity.” 

McGinn recently created her own company, PMD Rehab, which will provide hippotherapy, a therapy tool that involves using horses to help patients improve core stability, posture, walking and other functional mobility. 

“For the nervous system to adapt and learn a new skill, roughly 1,000 repetitions are needed. Within a 30-minute treatment session, equine movement can provide approximately 3,000 repetitions to the human body,” McGinn said. “Beyond the physical benefits, this is a wonderful opportunity to get patients out of the typical setting.” 

While McGinn’s interests and career path have continued to evolve, she appreciates the start she got at EVIT. “After going through eight years of school, I know first-hand how expensive it can be,” she said. “EVIT is an extraordinary opportunity to discover what interests you.”

EVIT offers over 40 high school and 12 post-secondary career training programs at two central campuses in Mesa and a branch campus at Apache Junction High School. High school programs are tuition-free; adults pay tuition, with financial aid available in some programs for those who qualify. 

EVIT students have a 98% high school graduation rate, two out of three go on to college, and 94% are in jobs related to their training, college or the military within a year of completing their program. Enrollment for 2022-23 is under way. To start the process, go to www.evit.com/enroll

Whitney’s Career Path:

  • Completed EVIT Massage Therapy in 2009.
  • Worked in massage and physical therapy.
  • Graduated from ASU with degree in exercise science.
  • Earned doctorate at A.T. Still University.
  • Today: Doctor of physical therapy for the Barrow Neurological Institute at the Muhammad Ali Movement Disorders Center.
  • Future plans: Provide equine movement therapy at her new company, PMD Rehab.

Get started on a career while in high school:

  • EVIT programs are a half-day for one to two years for juniors and seniors, so students should take classes required for graduation early in high school to save room for EVIT
  • Check out options at www.evit.com/programs
  • Request more information at www.evit.com/requestinfo
  • Contact an EVIT recruiter – Chastain Duarte at (480) 461-4029 or cduarte@evit.com, Tarnisha Tilson at (480) 461-4023 or ttilson@evit.com, Blair Howland at (480) 461-4036 or bhowland@evit.com
  • Enroll at www.evit.com/enroll

How to enroll in high school programs at EVIT:

  • Complete and submit application online at www.evit.com/enroll
  • Parents/legal guardians of new students will need an active email account to access and use the online registration system
  • Upload attendance record, discipline record, current unofficial transcripts and proof of immunizations
  • Admissions office will inform students via email once application is approved or if more information is needed
  • EVIT is for all high school students – public, charter, private or home-schooled – who reside in one of 11 East Valley school districts: Apache Junction, Cave Creek, Chandler, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Higley, J.O. Combs, Mesa, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Tempe
  • More information: Call (480) 461-4108

How to enroll in adult programs at EVIT: