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Mentorship: Dr. Erik's Story from Military Service to Physical Therapy Leadership

For many, finding a fulfilling career is often a journey of twists, turns, and unexpected detours making it anything but linear. Dr. Erik knows this first hand, as he experienced various professions before discovering physical therapy. Though all of his twits and turns, Dr. Erik always had a consistent focus of wanting to learn more and wanting to work with/learn from others, two things that we think helped him become the great mentor he is to others!

Check out what he had to say about his experience, and what he does now mentoring others!

How did you pursue your career/background/experience?

I had a “couple” of other careers before pursuing Physical Therapy. I went to undergrad on a ROTC scholarship and upon graduation was an Army Officer for 4 years where I was stationed in Alaska for three. After getting out of the army I worked in operational management for a trucking company for about a year. I was introduced by a friend to a Network Marketing/Multi-level Marketing Company and went “all in” for four years. In those four years, I moved 14 times and was working 60 hours a week “on my business”, and delivered pizzas about 30 hours a week to make ends meet. I burned out after I didn’t “get rich” so moved to Milwaukee and bartended for a year before moving back to St. Louis where I was an Independent Contractor for a Commercial Mortgage broker. Similarly to the MLM company, I hit burnout with the hours and lack of income so I moved back to Milwaukee. I was bartending while deciding on my next direction and one day was talking to a friend that was going to school for Speech Therapy and she mentioned Physical Therapy as an option. I looked into that and decided to go all in! I had to take a year of pre-req’s :/ which was “interesting” after being out of school for 12 years! As you probably can tell I’m a “bit” type A so really wanted to get as good as I could as fast as possible, so I did a year-long internship and then eventually a 3-year fellowship program which included starting the residency and fellowship program at Froedtert. Along the way, I became involved in CrossFit and earned my CF Level 1 and coached while in PT school, and shortly after graduation I started Evolv. Along the way I have also become involved in our state professional organization. From the fellowship and state association, I’ve been lucky enough to develop and teach several continuing education courses for other PTs as well as serve as adjunct faculty at South College in Tennessee.

Why did you become a mentor/what is your favorite part?

I’ve always loved being coached whether it was playing sports growing up, while in college in different programs or different careers. I think surrounding yourself with others that are better makes you grow. I’ve found teaching, mentoring, and coaching incredibly rewarding. I love paying it forward but selfishly I also feel I learn a tremendous amount by really digging deep into the subject matter as well as from the folks I work with.

What is your leadership style?

I think it changes based on who I work with. I try and lead by example first and foremost but then work on challenging folks just outside of their comfort zone.

How do you stay inspired?

I always try and continue to grow and learn more…. I’ve found teaching really ingrains and deepens my understanding of what and why we do what we do.

What do you think makes a good mentor/what should others look for in a mentor?

Someone that leads by example, is humble, and is willing to invest in you as much as you want to invest.

Why do people need a mentor?

I don’t think it’s needed but If you want to grow better and faster it just facilitates the process…. Find someone who has what you want, do what they do and you can get what they have :)

As a mentor, coach, and advocate for growth, Dr. Erik has taken the lessons learned though his professional journey to become a valued mentor who shares his passion for leadership and quest for knowledge with many others! In the end, it's important to remember that the journey itself evolves and can inspire with every step taken.


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