Calista Kelly knew she wanted to be a physical therapist from the time she was 15 years old.
As managing editor of PhysicalTherapy.com, she oversees the site’s more than 300 online courses and fosters relationships with the industry’s top experts.
It’s a role that she says combines two loves: the physical therapy profession and lifelong learning.
“When you help someone, it’s like runner’s adrenaline and you think, ‘I want to keep doing that!’”
“I’ve always loved puzzles and figuring out challenges. I think this is why physical therapy is such a fit for me—because I always want to figure out what’s going on with a patient,” said Kelly, DPT. “When you help someone, it’s like runner’s adrenaline and you think, ‘I want to keep doing that!’”
Kelly’s first exposure to the field came early in high school, when her grandfather underwent a leg amputation and subsequent physical and occupational therapy. Kelly witnessed a lot of his therapy during her frequent visits with him, which piqued her interest in the profession.
Then as a senior in high school, her interest was solidified when she broke her ankle playing softball and required a lot of therapy herself, both with a physical therapist and an athletic trainer.
“I was torn between going into physical therapy or athletic training, but I ultimately went with physical therapy because I liked working with sick patients, I liked wound care, and I liked being in the hospital setting,” Kelly said.
After earning her master’s degree in physical therapy from St. Ambrose University, she worked in the clinical setting for a number of years before pursuing her doctorate from the University of Mississippi.
While working toward her doctoral degree, Kelly practiced in rural Mississippi and Louisiana, which exposed her to virtually all areas of the field from acute care and stroke rehabilitation to sports medicine.
“Working in all the different areas of PT really challenged my mind, and I found that I love most all areas of physical therapy and don’t dislike any of them,” Kelly said. “I now feel like this experience was setting me up for the job I have now, which allows me to work with all areas of the profession.”
Upon completion of her doctorate, Kelly relocated to her home state of Illinois to be closer to family.
Specializing in the neck and back, she worked in a hospital-based outpatient facility and consulted with a neurosurgeon in a spine clinic.
A cancellation in the clinic one day led her to look through a magazine, where she saw an advertisement for the job she now holds.
“I always loved continuing education, and I would always take as much as my employer would pay for, so I thought a job in continuing ed sounded interesting and decided to throw my hat in the ring,” Kelly said.
She started conversations with continued, which had yet to launch continuing education in physical therapy and was looking for someone to help build it from the ground up.
Kelly accepted the challenge in 2011, and the following year, PhysicalTherapy.com was born.
“We are not only fulfilling CEUs; we’re invested in the discipline. This job allows me to learn every day and be part of a community of learners within our profession, so it’s a wonderful fit for me.”
“Being a part of this company’s growth has made me extremely proud,” Kelly said. “We are not only fulfilling CEUs; we’re invested in the discipline. This job allows me to learn every day and be part of a community of learners within our profession, so it’s a wonderful fit for me.”
Kelly holds a Clinical Instructor Credential through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and has a Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) Certification from The McKenzie Institute® USA Center for Postgraduate Study in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy®. She also holds a credential in Certified Exercise Experts for Aging Adults (CEEAA) and a certification as an Advanced Credentialed Exercise Expert for Aging Adults (ACEEAA) from the APTA's Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy.
Kelly lives in East Peoria, Illinois, with her two children. She enjoys all types of music and catches a concert any chance she gets.