Posted by columbiaphysicaltherapy on August 27, 2014
Shannon Narasimhan (CUDPT 2012)
Alumni Profile: Shannon Narasimhan Brings Her Passion for Dance to Physical Therapy
By Aryana Garber
Shannon Narasimhan (CUDPT 2012) has used her passion for dance to bring a unique perspective to her practice of physical therapy.
What was it about Physical Therapy that drew you to this field?
I have a background in modern dance and ballet. I moved to New York with ambitions of becoming a professional dancer, but the lifestyle is really difficult, and after a few years I knew that at I wanted to pursue something in the medical profession, as I had an undergraduate biology degree. I wanted to work one-on-one with people and have the opportunity to build a rapport with my patients. Also, being a dancer you know the body on a very intimate and complex level, and I wanted to utilize and pursue that awareness. Physical Therapy was a perfect fit.
Why did you choose to attend the Program in Physical Therapy at Columbia University?
I think what got my initial interest was the fact that that the DPT program at Columbia had electives for dancers and opportunities to work in the performing arts. Columbia provided a program not only dedicated to the practice of physical therapy, but also a vast academic community committed to interdisciplinary study. It was a place where I could learn how to utilize the creative process of dance in my new professional life.
Where has your career taken you since you graduated?
I work for Neuro Tours Physical Therapy. They provide physical therapy practitioners to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and tours, as well as big music shows like Beyonce, Pink, and Lady Gaga. Right now I’m working with Katy Perry. I did a clinical rotation with them at Neuro Sports Physical Therapy while I was in school in New York. While I was studying for my boards, I continued working with Neuro Tours on the off Broadway production, Sleep No More in New York City. After I passed my boards I went on tour with the Broadway show, War Horse. When I came back to New York, I got a call asking if I wanted to audition to be the physical therapist for Katy Perry's Prismatic World Tour. And that’s where I’m working now. My primary responsibility is taking care of Katy, the dancers, and the band.
How did your experience at Columbia prepare you for the career you chose to pursue?
The program at Columbia instills a constant want for knowledge. They give you the tools and the resources to keep learning and to keep current, because if you’re not current you’re not giving your clients the best. I did the orthopedic track, knowing I wanted to do dance and performing arts PT. It’s become a habit for me to read up on what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. This mindfulness has accompanied me throughout my career. When I’m working on a show, I try to understand the performance inside and out, from movement analysis of the individual dancers to the choreography of the company. The program at Columbia University taught me to consider the larger picture; that healthcare is not only about physically treating the patient, but it is also about understanding and respecting the science. This appreciation and awareness has allowed me to become a better physical therapist.
What advice do you have for future Columbia students?
Appreciate the experience and opportunities that are available to you as a student. The academic resources aside, the program at Columbia University provides an environment that is so friendly and so open. Appreciate the classes as opportunities of study and conversation, and recognize the amazing faculty available to teach and guide. I remember from my very first day, I was treated as a future colleague. That mutual respect is appreciated and rings throughout the program. And that is what makes it so special.