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Chris Lane is a third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student whose journey to pursue becoming a physical therapist stemmed from a back injury in high school.

“I became a patient in a physical therapy clinic,” Lane said. “I ended up returning to the clinic to help out and volunteer and really, I just enjoyed it more and more.”

During his time shadowing a physical therapist, he learned that teamwork is an effective tool in working with patients.

“A therapist and a patient are pretty much partners on the same team, trying to work together,” Lane said.

The more experience Lane accumulated in the clinic; the more he realized there are few physical therapists who come from underrepresented backgrounds. Lane hopes he can encourage others from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue the profession, in addition to providing patient care by finding commonalities from which a provider relationship can be formed.

“That was kind of a driving motivation for me to try and be a part of the profession. I wanted to have more people who do look like me,” Lane said. “It doesn’t have to be someone who looks just like the same person or speaks the same language, but if there’s any kind of way to connect to them, I think it really helps build the confidence of the patient.”

As a first-generation college student, Lane said scholarship support has been essential to his success in the DPT program. He is also a fellow with the Royster Society of Fellows, offered by the Graduate School.

“It really was through scholarships in undergrad and of course the diversity scholarships in PT school that have really helped me be where I’m at today,” Lane said.

“That actually gave me some of the courage to try to apply to physical therapy programs, so I really do hope that now, being a physical therapy student and hopefully being a future physical therapist soon, that I can inspire other people like me to also join the profession,” Lane said.

Lane hopes to continue his education in the Human Movement Science Curriculum, a PhD program offered jointly between the Department of Allied Health Sciences and the Department of Exercise and Sports Science.

“Physical therapy is an evidence-based practice, so a lot of the techniques that we do are really involved with research,” Lane said. “I think it’s very important to have the research be more inclusive to people who are from similar backgrounds as a lot of the patients that go to the clinic.”

Lane credits his diverse cohort and supportive faculty as he prepares to graduate in August 2019.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this program, and I think that really prepared me well to become a physical therapist,” Lane said.

The Division of Physical Therapy is one of seven programs housed in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences.