Kelley Volpenhein, PT, DPT, NCS, LMT '16

Kelley graduated from Mount St. Joseph DPT program in 2016 and is currently working at the VA hospital as an outpatient physical therapist in the chronic pain clinic. She started there in 2019 under a grant from the Office of Rural Health. The purpose of the program was to reach Veterans in rural areas with progressive neurological diseases via telehealth. Initially the program was piloted for patients with multiple sclerosis and expanded to Veterans with ALS. After being involved in the program for a year, Kelley grew the program to include patients with Parkinson’s disease as well. Initially, the program was designed to reach Veterans in rural areas but since many patients with neurological conditions often require a lot of time and effort to get to their appointments, the program was expanded to all Veterans with those neurological conditions. This allowed these patients to have a home exercise program via Telehealth and overcome some of the barriers to receiving physical therapy. The success of the program led her team receiving an Executive Leadership Team Recognition Award and the program continues to expand throughout other VA centers.  Once hired on outside of the grant, she was offered a role in chronic pain clinic where she is currently working and is looking forward to progressing the program along with the interdisciplinary team that includes a pain psychologist, pain pharmacist, pain physician, nurse practitioner, and physical therapist. Lastly, she recently earned her NCS and also enjoys working as faculty within the residency program and serving as the treasurer for the APTA Federal Section.
Outside of work, I am looking forward to fall with lots of Kan Jam, football, bonfires, bike riding, and fall hiking. My favorite thing about the Mount is that everyone was friendly and welcoming. I was nervous about coming back to school as a non-traditional student and feeling out of place but I was welcomed and even made some friends I still see to this day.  I liked that the clinicals were at the end of the curriculum so that I felt ready to start treating and making the most of it. I was thankful to have placed a special request for my final clinical that MSJ faculty worked to secure.  For clinicals, my advice would be to remember to look at the whole person through the lens of the bio-psycho-social model.  I have found working with chronic pain and Veterans that finances, social support, and trauma play a large role in a person’s experiences to pain and outcomes. What works for one person may not work for another when factoring in the whole person. My advice for students for their time in school would be to take each day in stride and try to not get too overwhelmed, it all comes together.