Betsy began her Irish dance career at 12 years old and dreamt of being a doctor and dance teacher one day. As the founding TCRG of Eilís Academy at Escalate and a physical therapist at the Institute for Athletic Medicine in St. Paul, Minnesota, it’s safe to say Betsy has accomplished that and so much more.
While studying at Marquette University, Betsy discovered the value of cross training and strength training for performance enhancement and injury prevention in dancers. She now specializes in dance medicine and enjoys making a difference in the lives of others each and every day.
We talked with Betsy about transitions in Irish dance, the exciting world of dance medicine and some tips for those interested in becoming a physical therapist.
How did you know you were done competing? And how did you emotionally handle this transition?
“I was fortunate enough to compete through graduate school. I balanced training, dancing and traveling from Wisconsin to Minnesota for classes. As I got older though, my injuries hindered my performance, which was discouraging, but I became more interested in teaching, which was inspiring. There was a lot of back and forth for me the last three years of competing. I knew I wanted to wait until I was done with school to take my TCRG exam and I had some unmet goals to accomplish, so I figured why not continue competing while I still can.
Was it an easy transition?
“It has to be a deeply personal decision to retire from competing, especially when you transition to teaching because you do not just step away from it. You are still in the studio just as much. It is a mental transition from competition to teacher, a physical transition in being okay with not training as much and how your body changes and an emotional transition to let go of something you are so passionate about and dedicated to.”
Why did you decide to become a Physical Therapist and specialize in Dance Medicine?
“I love this question. I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, when I was little my dream was to be a doctor and a dance teacher. I had a couple of serious injuries during dance in high school and was blessed to be in the care of an incredible physical therapist. She is still a mentor to me to this day. The time she took with me, the creativity she used in my treatment and how she was able to see my progress helped me decide that I also wanted to that someday. As far as dance medicine, it kind of fell into my lap. Irish dance is such a niche and when I started working in clinic my colleagues were always asking me for help with their dancer patients. I realized how rewarding it is to ‘speak the language’ of your patients and that I could really make a difference with dancers. From there it was a matter of getting to know doctors and clinics in town that see dancers, and putting myself out there to help dancers get back on track.
I am also part of a non-profit organization called the Minnesota Dance Medicine Foundation, we are a group of clinicians from all over who specialize in dance medicine education and research with the goal of helping dancers dance healthy.”
What would you recommend to dancers who may be interested in the PT/Dance Medicine
“First off, we need you. Dance medicine is such a special niche, with such a great need. I would encourage dancers to shadow their doctors, therapists, etc. There are such great organizations that provide education for dancers. Minnesota Dance Medicine Foundation, IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine and Science), Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (New York). Schooling is quite competitive, so study hard in math and science and look at what programs require so you are prepared academically. Lastly, get to know your own body. What kind of training inspires you? What excites you? What helps you get your body on track? There are so many facets of dance medicine, from strength and conditioning, to nutrition, to psychology to medicine that you can pursue and make such a difference in the lives of dancers. Ask lots of questions and be open to new ideas. Dance medicine is an exciting field!
In the Twin Cities area and want to setup a PT consultation with Betsy?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information