Physical therapy faculty profile: Evan Nelson

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program educates a new cohort of 40 students per year, so at any time 120 students are matriculating through the program. Faculty and staff work in the program to educate students in the varying facets of physical therapy. Students are prepared to graduate as generalists with additional experiences in service learning, research, community service, business and education.

In the following Q&A, get to know Evan Nelson.

What is your current position?

Evan Nelson
Evan Nelson

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Can you describe your main duties?

My position involves a variety of roles blending teaching, research and practice. I teach the Clinical Medicine courses in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and perform clinical teaching for the Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency. Clinically, I am an orthopedic specialist at The American Center, treating a wide array of spine and extremity conditions. My research involves working with the UW Health Runners’ Clinic and UW Neuromuscular Biomechanics Laboratory to develop the University of Wisconsin Running Injury and Recovery Index as a new, patient-reported outcome measure for running-related injuries. Patient-reported outcome research is a natural extension of my clinical experience, and enhancing how we measure running-specific disability will more accurately incorporate the patients’ perspective into other clinical effectiveness studies.

When did you join SMPH?

I started working in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in May 2010.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the diversity of activities I can be involved with in the School of Medicine and Public Health. Interacting with intelligent, motivated students maintains my professional energy and challenges me to maintain a breadth of clinical knowledge. Maintaining a clinical practice with UW Health keeps me in touch with the changing health care environment while my clinical colleagues continually challenge me to pursue excellence. Clinical research requires me to evaluate clinical outcomes data in a deep and systematic way. Every day I get to interact with others, think critically, solve problems and overcome challenges. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities available at the University of Wisconsin and the exceptional people I get to work with.

Can you give us an example of your typical work day?

Every day is a bit different, but balances teaching, research and clinical activities.

Where are you from?

I grew up in northeast Iowa, moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University for physical therapy school, but Wisconsin has been home since I graduated.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and four children, doing a wide variety of family-oriented outdoor and athletic activities. For solitude, I really enjoy running and fly fishing in the Dane county area.