Interview with The Student Physical Therapist Team

The Student Physical Therapist is three person run educational company whose mission is to challenge sports and orthopedic physical therapists to become clinical experts by providing residency level education. Our founders are Brian Schwabe, PT, DPT, SCS, Chris Fox, PT, DPT, OCS, and Jim Heafner, PT, DPT, OCS who all graduated from Saint Louis University in 2013. 

Note: You should consult with your doctor or physical therapist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of The Student Physical Therapist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

What inspired the start of The Student Physical Therapist?

We were three physical therapy students who saw a disconnect with what we learned in the clinic and what we learned in school. We often talked to each other about the “Why” behind what we learned and what we were performing. We started TSPT to help clinicians and students alike understand their Why.  

What do you hope your readers get out of the information you share with them?

We hope that our readers (students and clinicians) gain comprehensive knowledge that they can apply directly to their clinical orthopedic/sports practice as well as sound career advice.  

How does what you all see in your practices influence what you add to the site in terms of posts and resources?

Each of us comes from a different background and clinical setting. Brian comes from a primarily sports clinical background while Chris and Jim come from an orthopedic background. Each of us treat a little differently and see different types of patients. However, we all agree that teaching principles over specific systems is key to being a well-developed clinician. We create our content with that in mind. 

Can you tell us more about the courses you offer through The Student Physical Therapist?

We offer many different sports and orthopedic courses through TSPT. Our most popular is our Insider Access Membership. We offer a wide range of educational content focusing on specific manual therapy techniques, return to sport clinical reasoning, and specific post-op treatment considerations. Furthermore, we offer comprehensive orthopedic courses broken down by body part (ex: hip, lumbar, knee) as well as a comprehensive lower quarter sports course focusing on athletic injuries and return to sport.  

What are some of the biggest challenges for students starting their first clinical experiences?

We believe some of the biggest challenges lie in the adjustment between what is learned in school and what is done in practice. For example, special tests are often taught in school but each CI performed them differently. Additionally, each CI has a different experience and background which a student has to adjust to. However, these experiences are beneficial as each student has the ability to learn how they want to practice as well as how they don’t want to practice.  

How can students learn early on to keep up with new evidence in the field?

Research remains the best way to stay up to date. We are aware of social media; however, we caution against blindly following advice seen on the internet. Find the clinicians you respect with the experience in the topic they are talking about to help guide your learning process.  

What should students consider when thinking about specialty certification?

Becoming board certified in a specialty field of physical therapy has great advantages. Ask yourself why you want to become a specialist and how that fits into your career goals.  Seek out clinicians who are board certified and ask them questions to understand what is possible with becoming a specialist.  

Do you have any other advice for PT students?

Be a learn it all, not a know it all. This becomes especially true the more years out of school.  You don’t know what you don’t know so always keep seeking out people who are pushing the status quo. Learn from mentorship groups, conferences, self-study courses. Be your own advocate for lifelong learning!