PT Profile: Mary Dockter, PT, PhD | Mar 16, 2012

My name is Mary Dockter, PT, PhD and I am an Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. I have been working in the field of PT for 23 years. I graduated from UND in 1989 with my BSPT; University of Mary in 2000 with my M.Ed.; and UND again in 2004 with my PhD.

My clinical practice has varied greatly. I started at JamestownHospital for my first 2 years and thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of rural practice. I then transferred to St. A's and rotated between acute, general outpatient, and home health from 1990-1998. I loved this schedule as each area offered unique challenges and rewards. My interest in women's health was sparked after my first course on Musculoskeletal Conditions and the Pregnant Client by Jill Boissonnault and Marla Bookhout in the mid-90s. Interestingly enough, Jill has been, and continues to be, my mentor and the driving force behind my involvement in the Section on Women's Health. I have since attended several courses in the area of women's health which continues to be my main area of interest and passion. I started at the University of Mary in 1998 where I served as Director of Clinical Education and transitioned to Chair in 2010. My areas of teaching include professional issues, administration, women's health, and the capstone service learning experience (Guatemala or regional). I truly love working with students and am rewarded on a regular basis when I speak to alum who are passionate and excited about what they do.

I have received the following awards: University of Mary Regent's Award Finalist (2011); $10,000 Make a Difference Day Award from Newman's Own; Team Leader GOD's CHILD Project; and University of Mary PT Student Service Team (2009); University of Mary Best Practices in Leadership Award (2007); Volunteer of the Year Award: American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women's Health (2006); Who's Who Among America's Teachers (2005); Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce: Higher Education Teacher of the Year (2004).

I have been married for 21 years to my husband Claude and we have 2 children and a dog; McKenzie (17-year-old daughter), Grant (15-year-old son), and Sadie (3-year-old lab/springer mix). While it is challenging to be a full-time working parent, I do believe my career has benefited my family in many ways. In addition to being able to plan family vacations around clinical site visits, I believe my family is proud of my accomplishments and appreciate the example I have set. I fondly remember my first experience leading a student team to Guatemala for 2 weeks. I missed my young children terribly and felt guilty until my husband informed me that they were enthusiastically and proudly telling everyone they encountered that "their mom was in Guatemala helping the poor children." I am proud to say that they recognize the importance of serving others. My hobbies include: golf, working out/running, watching my kids' sports activities, and reading.

I believe the friendships you share with people who are going through a similar experience are unparalleled. Thus, the 2 cohorts of learners I was blessed to be a part of for both my PT and PhD degrees enabled me to form lifelong friendships and memories. I tentatively started my M.Ed. after being out of school for many years and quickly found that I loved returning to the classroom. I am a voracious learner and have quickly learned that the more I am exposed to, the more I realize how little I truly know! I have to say that my 8 service-learning experiences in Guatemala have been some of the most humbling, eye-opening, and challenging experiences in which I have been involved. Each trip has taught me new things about the world, students, human nature, and myself. As PTs, we have a wealth of knowledge and skills that can be used to make the world a better place.

I have been an APTA member since 1987 because I absolutely feel it is my professional duty to belong and actively serve in my professional organization. Initially, I just paid my dues and read my journals. However, it was after becoming involved on a state and national level that I fully realized the full benefits of belonging. I have met lifelong friends and mentors; have grown clinically, academically, and professionally; and have been offered opportunities that I never would have received without being a member. I have been fortunate enough to serve as the Director of Education for the SOWH and led the charge to gain approval from the ABPTS for the women's health specialization. While one of the most challenging tasks I have ever been involved in, it was also one of the most rewarding. Since that time, I have had numerous opportunities to serve on task forces and committees for the SOWH, Education Section, Academic Council, and NDPTA. With each experience, I gain new knowledge and skills and meet outstanding leaders in our profession. All it takes is saying, "Yes!"