James Madison University

Alumni Highlight - Rob Bardinas

A background in kinesiology molded a sound foundation for a career in physical therapy.


  • JMU Class of '09 - Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology - Exercise Science
  • Temple University Class of '12 - Doctorate of Physical Therapy
  • Licensed Physical Therapist in New Jersey

Exercise Science Undergraduate Practicum and Internship

PHOTO: Rob Bardinas
Before going to JMU, I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted my career path to be. I knew for sure that I wanted to go into healthcare. I also wanted to find a way to combine sports/athletics/fitness/exercise with helping others achieve their goals and improve their well-being. From that, physical therapy came to mind. I soon learned that there are many settings in which to practice physical therapy. I utilized my kinesiology practicum and internship to gain some experience and observation in two different physical therapy settings. I completed my practicum at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Harrisonburg, where I learned about the everyday responsibilities of an outpatient physical therapist, including what common diagnoses were treated, professionalism, time management, effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients, the importance of interdisciplinary care and the different treatments that a physical therapist uses, including manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, neuromuscular re-education, etc. I completed my kinesiology internship at a hospital in Luray, VA. This was a unique experience, as the physical therapist that I observed also worked in an outpatient setting. While observing physical therapy in the hospital, I learned the many differences between inpatient and outpatient physical therapy. In the inpatient setting, it is important to have collaborative care among the physical therapist, the nurse and other healthcare providers. I learned the roles of an inpatient physical therapist, including the importance of monitoring a patient's status while in the hospital, treatment and, what stood out to me the most, discharge planning. I learned that discharge planning included assessing a patient's social and home environments, their need for an assistive or adaptive device, how independent they are with self-care activities and activities of daily living, how well they are able to care for themselves, among many other factors. My practicum and internship experiences allowed me to learn, first-hand, the differences between an outpatient physical therapist and an inpatient physical therapist. My practicum and internship also allowed me to accumulate the necessary observation hours that I would later need to apply to physical therapy school. Following JMU, I attended Temple University's three year Doctorate of Physical Therapy program, where I utilized what I learned from my exercise science education to further pursue a career in physical therapy.


PHOTO: Rob Bardinas
I was hired from the same company in which I completed my final clinical rotation while in physical therapy school. Clinical rotations are meant to, among other things, allow you to experience different physical therapy settings. I am currently working as a physical therapist for SportsCare of America, P.C. in Jersey City, NJ. I began my career in Winter Park FL, and after approximately one year I transferred to NJ, which is where I am originally from. I work in an outpatient clinic, and I see a variety of patients, primarily of the orthopaedic and geriatric populations. I have the opportunity to help my patients achieve their goals through physical therapy rehabilitation. In my opinion, physical therapy is a unique field in the sense that I am able to work collaboratively with my patients to have them return to, or improve, their function in many aspects. Whether the goals include walking, playing sports or simply being able to reach above shoulder height to open cabinets, I have the opportunity to design a plan of care and treatment goals to use manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, home exercise programs and other physical therapy treatments to help the goals to be achieved. Most patients receive physical therapy more than once per week, so it is a great opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of my treatments and I can change them based on a patient's response. It is rewarding when a patient is able to increase their function and return to their activity level prior to the injury that lead them to seek physical therapy treatment. Additionally, I am constantly utilizing what I learned during the kinesiology coursework, my kinesiology practicum and my kinesiology internship on a daily basis. Biomechanics, exercise physiology and exercise prescription are important components of my work as a physical therapist.


I think that it is important to partake in professional development and constantly try and improve as a physical therapist. I plan to try and obtain my manual therapy certification in the next few years. Continuing education courses are not only a requirement to maintain a physical therapy license, but are also great ways to continue to learn about the many different aspects of the physical therapy field. Also, I plan to be more of an advocate for my patients and for physical therapy. Giving back to the community is something that I have always felt strongly about, as well. I also continue to strive to challenge myself to be as good of a physical therapist as I can be, so that my patients receive the best possible care and achieve goals and improve function as much as possible.