Dr. Tamara Phelan ’08 is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. She earned her bachelor of science at Tennessee State University, her masters and doctor of orthopedic manual therapy from Ola Grimsby Institute, and her doctor of education from University of the Pacific in 2008. Dr. Phelan was inspired to become a physical therapist when she discovered that she enjoyed working with people to improve physical function, and because of the wide variety of opportunities available to physical therapists.

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Dr. Phelan practiced in a variety of clinical settings while pursuing a masters and doctorate in manual therapy, and becoming a fellow in the American Academy of Orhtopedic Manual Physical Therapy.  Prior to coming to pacific,  Dr. Phelan taught post professional courses for physical therapists for the Ola Grimsby Institute and was adjunct faculty at Belmont University and Tennessee State University. She joined the Pacific faculty in 2001 teaching kinesiology and orthopedic and manual therapy.

What Dr. Phelan enjoys most about teaching is the opportunity for creativity, the challenge of communicating an idea well and the interactions with students.  “I love the process of separating a concept into fundamental ideas and then teaching students how to reconstruct the concept from multiple perspectives, so that they ultimately gain a deep understanding of the concept”.  “I think that the process of education is universal in that a student learns not only what they need to know, but how much more there always is to know.  When education is successful one can operate comfortably in spite of that uncertainty.”

Dr. Phelan finds interacting with students extremely rewarding because they are so fully engaged and eager to learn. “The students I teach are in general so respectful and appreciative, they have worked so hard to get into the program and they are so committed to doing well and simply going forth into the world to do something good.  Teaching them makes me feel better about the world.” said Dr. Phelan.

To help aspiring physical therapists prepare themselves, Dr. Phelan encourages students to research the field well before they pursue a career in physical therapy, and apply themselves fully when completing the prerequisites, good advice that would apply to any educational pursuit.





By Dua Her '09
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