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Physical Therapy Convocation 2022: Meet Ali Kallner

Date: Friday, December 9, 2022
Ali Kallner with mountains behind her


Phoenix, Arizona

Degrees and distinctions:

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Colorado State University, NCAA Track and Field Academic-All American
Doctorate of Physical Therapy from University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, President of the Class of 2022

Future plans:

I have a big interest in developmental disorders and neurological conditions. I’m hoping to practice in the pediatric setting closer to my family in Colorado.

How did you choose this career path?

I wanted to be a veterinarian for a very long time, so in college, I got involved with a research group that studied osteoarthritis in horses. The facility the horses were kept in had a program that provided hippotherapy for kids (PT on horseback!). It showed me how physical therapy wrapped a lot of my favorite things—human connection, problem solving, and science—into a career.

Who was especially helpful in guiding and mentoring you, and why?

It’s hard to pick one person, but if I have to, it’s got to be my mom. She doesn’t work in health care, but she has been the greatest example of how hard work, selflessness, and balance can make you the best you can be no matter the profession. She is also the greatest receiver of phone calls and greatest reliever of stress that induces those aforementioned phone calls. 

Honorable mentions for the incredible impact they've had on me during my time at Iowa: Richard Shields, PT, PhD, FAPTA; Kelly Sass, MPT, PhD; Amy Kimball, MPT, PhD, ATC; Marcie Becker, DPT, GCS; Pam Lee, MPT; Carol Leigh; and Sue Protheroe.

What was the most rewarding part of your experience?

Getting to know the people around me. It isn’t surprising that the friends I’ve made in the Carver College of Medicine's PT, PA, and MD programs are all intelligent and hardworking students, but I am constantly left in awe of the extraordinary humans they are outside of the clinic and classroom.

What experiences outside the curriculum enhanced your education?

I have been so lucky to meet so many people in Iowa City that share my love for EXCESSIVE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Grad school is full of stressful days or weeks or months, but the running, biking, and swimming in Iowa City can melt it all away. 

Share one memory that sticks out from your time as a student here.

I got to participate in Doc Dash alongside some of my best friends, including Josh Hannon, who has a condition called Friedrich’s ataxia. He spent most of the winter leading up to the event practicing wheelchair laps and lifting weights to get in shape for the event. He not only finished Doc Dash but also lost nearly 30 pounds, and he continues to maintain his fitness to this day. The man is an animal, and his race (and our training sessions) will definitely be one of my favorite memories from PT school.  

What advice would you give to an incoming PT student?