Evie Vlahakis, PT ’89: Where Is She Now?

Evie vlahakis 1Bio: I am currently seeing complex patients in their home, office and gym privately, as well as working with two PT clinics in a similar capacity for homecare therapy. I also launched a side career as a consultant for physicians who refer their difficult patients to me, whom I visit to evaluate and determine the “next steps.” In addition, I’m an Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields, the premium skincare brand, growing my team and training new enrollees and consultants to achieve their potential for maximal benefit for their own home based business. In both my career as a PT clinician and the consulting gigs, it matches my lifestyle for the flexibility to succeed as a single/widowed mother of two teenagers.
Job Title and Company: Senior Physical Therapist, Consultant, Self-Employed
Degree from SBU: ’89 B.S. in Physical Therapy 
How did you decide to enter into your field of work?
I began wanting to work with special needs children. After volunteering at a preschool, I was fortunate to be able to observe all the disciplines and migrated towards the PT. I then ventured to hospital adult inpatient and outpatient departments and finally to sports medicine. It was in school that orthopedics and rehabilitation were much more interesting to me with adult patients.While interviewing in 1989, the statistics showed that there were seven available jobs for every graduating PT.  I chose to stay local to LI for 2 years, then moved to Manhattan to explore my options with a sports medicine/orthopedic clinic.
What do you wish you had known as a student?
My wish was to dive into the really tough, life changing and physical medicine areas of physical therapy: Teach an amputee to walk again, coma recovery, multiple fracture rehab, work with anyone so I can make a grand difference and get them back to their normal life. What I was not prepared for is the impact that those patients had in my life, their stories, their families and their situations that would stay with me. The lesson learned and the relationships with the team of PTs that I worked with will never be forgotten. So, as a student, take it all in, because it all matters, even when you think it doesn’t. Thus, the worst situation, the most difficult patient and the most exasperating cases are all lessons to make you a better clinician.  Keep your mind open and leave your emotional and cultural baggage behind.  It is also important to note that although other industries in STEM have traditionally been a male dominated career track, health related careers have a closer male: female ratio. I am very fortunate enough to have worked with and led by strong women in this field.
What’s your 30-60 second elevator pitch?
Hi there (direct eye contact). I’m the PT you want on your case, I come with 30 years of experience, I’ve seen patients from all walks of life and a multitude of injuries and conditions. I’ve climbed up the ladder and ran three PT clinics simultaneously under one budget, while also seeing a full caseload of patients. When you would like results, and the promise to work as hard as the patient, I’m the PT to contact. Thank you (have the business card ready). Follow up immediately the next day.
In what ways can students make the most of their free time?
Students can make the most of their free time by observing and learning from those that have been in the field and in a variety of differing and unique places. Some examples are: little league athletic trainers, burn clinics, ambulance/first aid work, nursing homes, fitness clubs, anywhere they can be involved in someone’s care. They could ask for internships or aide jobs or volunteer in a setting that is very different from what they have been exposed to in school. They must be open to learning in a nontraditional environment, whether it’s on the road or online or in person, exposing themselves and jumping in. Students should be ready to get comfortable becoming uncomfortable and to stretch beyond what they think they can reach.

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