Ep. 80 – The Secret to Launching Your OncoPT Career

The one thing I wish I had when I was job searching & starting to work in #OncoPT was a community I could rely on for help. Feeling supported & heard is so important when starting your career – good thing for us, The Academy of Oncology PT’s Student & New Professional Subcommittee is taking the reins on this, with tons of new initiatives & goals to help us! Steve Wechsler, Emma Schaburg O’Brien, & Shai Sewell stopped by TheOncoPT Podcast to share some of the great things the Subcommittee is working on for you & me!

Dr. Steve Wechsler is a Physical Therapist, currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. Following his tenure as a Clinical Specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Dr. Wechsler is developing a research agenda in cancer survivorship, and more specifically, balance impairments following neurotoxic cancer treatments.

Dr. Wechsler currently serves as the Secretary of APTA Oncology as well as the liaison for the newly formed Student & New Professional Subcommittee.

Emma Schaberg O’Brien, SPT, CLT, RYT is the Chair of the Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy Student and New Professional Subcommittee. She is a 3rd year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student at the University of Vermont (UVM), during which she has received the Dean’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award for her exemplary professional growth and contributions. As a research and program assistant with the UVM Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science and UVM Medical Center Department of Hematology/Oncology she’s been involved in the delivery of cancer rehabilitation related services including physical therapy and lymphedema evaluations and treatment. Additionally, she’s led and supported research evaluating the use of mobile technologies for physical therapy assessment, treatment and monitoring.  

Prior to pursuing her DPT, she specialized in communications and program development for public and global health organizations — including serving as a Peace Corps Public Health and Community Economic Development Volunteer in Guinea, West Africa, and working with the UVM Cancer Center’s Steps to Wellness oncology rehabilitation program. 

Shai’s interest in oncology rehabilitation began prior to starting physical therapy school, when his mom was was diagnosed with cancer. Seeing the effects of exercise not only on her physical health, but mental well-being drove Shai to explore the benefits that rehabilitation and exercise can have throughout the cancer care continuum. 

While studying at the University of Miami to obtain his Doctorate in Physical Therapy, he was fortunate to intern at the University of Florida, Shands Medical Plaza where he assessed and treated breast, and head and neck cancer patients undergoing a multitude of cancer treatment related sequela. After graduating from PT school in 2018, Shai began his career at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami where he worked with the hematological oncological population undergoing stem cell transplants. With experience in this setting, his love for cancer rehabilitation only further grew.

During this time, he began a Special Interest Group for University of Miami students to help highlight the importance of cancer rehabilitation, and to spark curiosity in an ever-growing field. He has also been active in the Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, where he hopes to educate students, clinicians, and physical therapy schools across the country on the importance of cancer rehabilitation. Shai has recently moved to the University of Florida, Shands Cancer Center where he continues to work in the bone marrow transplant unit and with hematological malignancies during inpatient chemotherapy. With his passion for raising awareness to new therapists and improving access to care for those diagnosed with cancer, Shai hopes to create a field where empowerment takes reign over a life-changing diagnosis. 

During his free time, he likes to bike, run, hike, camp, explore what the great outdoors has to offer, cooking, throw clay on the potter’s wheel, and transform his van Zooba into an adventure-mobile. 

Find the Student & New Professional Subcommittee here!

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