Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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New DPT Mentor Program a Huge Success

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(from L to R) Tim Lonergan 11DPT, a leader of the new DPT mentorship program, mentors recent graduate Phillip Kellogg DPT19.

Only a couple of months away from graduating with his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Emory, Phillip Kellogg remembers listening to a presentation from an Emory DPT alumnus early this year promoting a new mentorship program available to Emory DPT students – even third-year students on the cusp of graduation.

Hoping to broaden his networking base and recognizing that advice from a seasoned professional regarding the job search process could be valuable, Kellogg signed up for the program and weeks later, the presenter that day, 2011 graduate Tim Lonergan, became his mentor.

Months later, Kellogg is thankful that he took the leap of faith. Lonergan has been a source of valuable career advice and guidance which has helped Kellogg land a position with PT Solutions.

“I definitely felt so much more prepared and confident during the interview process, asking some of those critical questions and making sure that my interests were met,” Kellogg says. “It was less trial-by-fire because I was able to learn from somebody who had been there and was willing to give me some sound advice and critique.”

For Lonergan, regional vice president for BenchMark Physical Therapy Clinic in the Metro Atlanta area, his contributions to Kellogg’s life and career completes a community service-minded vision that he and his company have had to create a mentorship program for current Emory DPT students.

He was so committed to the vision, he crafted a detailed 12-page plan complete with template letters and talking points for mentees at different stages of their graduate studies. He then pitched it to Emory DPT faculty members Patricia Bridges, PT, EdD, MMSc, Sarah Caston, PT, DPT, and Tami Phillips, PT, DPT, MBA, who loved the proposal and told him that the DPT Alumni Committee, chaired by Emory DPT Associate Professor Beth Davis, PT, DPT, MBA, FNAP, had recently casted a similar vision for a mentorship program for the students. Lonergan and Davis partnered with Alumni Committee Member Jonathan Erickson, currently a second year-student in the DPT program, and the initiative took flight at the beginning of this year. Today, in just a few months, about 110 mentees and 135 mentors nationwide have registered to participate.

“The beauty of the program is that all of our mentors are Emory DPT graduates and they know most of the faculty that students work with every day,” Lonergan says. “They also know the facility, the classes that are required and the rigor that it is and how it prepares students for their careers.

“It allows students to get some counsel and advice on how to handle the next semester of neuroscience, kinesiology or the service project. It’ll address questions such as: How did you study for that type of test? When do I start studying for boards? Who should I look into as far as a company that has great values, a great mission, a great vision? What have you heard about this company? The idea was to create the kind of relationships that allow students to be comfortable enough to ask questions with some depth.”

While some students may not feel comfortable forging relationships with people they don’t know, Lonergan designed the program to ensure that mentees dictate the terms of the relationship. Mentors are assigned to mentees based on the preferences of the students and from there, the mentees determine the number of meetings and the method of communication whether it be in-person, telephone conversations or email/text conversations.

“I don’t want it to be busy work for the mentee and I don’t want the mentor to have to go too far out of their way unnecessarily,” Lonergan adds. “I want it to be a win-win for both. And fortunately, the mentors around the country are excited to be part of this. They haven’t viewed it as more work on their plates. Their attitudes are, ‘I would love to give back to the institution that did so much for me.’”

Mary Alice White, a 2018 Emory DPT graduate who is currently working on getting a PhD from Georgia Tech, agreed to serve as mentor and was assigned to two current students whom she meets with occasionally in person. White says that a mentor would have been valuable to her Emory experience and she is happy to help those currently walking in her footsteps.

“There was not somebody to help guide me along the way, so if I can be helpful to any student who is following along the same trajectory, I’m happy to do that,” she says. “This program formalizes these kinds of relationships and hopefully, is helpful to the current students.”

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