Reversing Roles - PT Alum Liliana Jimenez Returns to the Classroom
Published May 4, 2022
By Darlene Muguiro
UTEP College of Health Sciences
Liliana Jimenez, a 2017 graduate of the Physical Therapy Program and current clinical instructor, says that she didn’t always dream of becoming a physical therapist.
“My story is very funny, because it was very random,” she said. “I never had an injury, or had a physical therapist work with me. I remember searching ‘physical therapy’ on Google one day, and that is when I started researching it.”
Jimenez entered the PT program in fall 2014. Towards the end of the program, she began an acute care rotation in Austin, Texas that ultimately defined her academic and professional trajectory, confirming her calling to become a neurologic physical therapist. A subsequent rotation at a neurologic institute in Arkansas was equally memorable.
“I remember I had a great curiosity for learning more about the brain, and I was reading a ton about the brain and brain injury survivors,” she said.
Jimenez’s curiosity about neurology and budding interest in teaching led her to develop an Instagram page, “The Brain PT,” shortly after her residency, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The site focuses on neurological rehabilitation and includes instructional videos, research in the field, and study tips for current PT students.
“The site became really popular, so I was pretty much creating instructional videos as a hobby,” she said. “Suddenly, teaching became my part-time job! I then became a faculty member for the UTEP PT Program, teaching the neurorehabilitation course.”
Upon returning to the classroom, Jimenez immediately tapped into the time-management and clinical skills she learned as a PT student and honed in her residencies with her mentors, as well as the public speaking skills she developed when presenting at conferences. She says her experiences as a former UTEP PT student also provide a unique perspective that help her relate to her students better on an emotional level.
“I’m able to understand their emotions, their stress, and what they are going through,” she said. “At the same time, I can appreciate how making mistakes as a student is crucial to be able to learn from them, versus meeting the expectation of being perfect and knowing it all.”
Jimenez shared an important piece of advice for current PT students, something she says she would also tell herself if she could back in time to her first year as a PT student: “Curiosity will take you far in your career. Stay curious.”
For more information about the UTEP Physical Therapy Program, please visit: utep.edu/chs/pt.
Follow The Brain PT on Instagram: the_brain_p