By Matt Hawkins
November 7, 2014

Ryan Lynch DPT ’16, of Byron, Illinois, will spend the remainder of his Bradley years building the next wave of armed forces physical therapists. As the federal section student liaison for the American Physical Therapy Association, Lynch will be on the front lines as a recruiter and career counselor for Doctor of Physical Therapy students interested in military medical careers.

Lynch will spend the next two years as the point person for dozens of DPT candidates across the country as they navigate both academic and military systems. He’ll also attend several conferences each year to recruit more physical therapists for military careers.

The second student to be named to the relatively new position, 1st Lt. Lynch said his duties come with high expectations.

“I want to continue to spread the word about what we do and how we make a difference in the nation’s soldiers,” he said. “Because most injuries in the military are musculoskeletal, physical therapists can do a lot for the armed forces. If we bring in more physical therapists, our forces will be better.”

APTA’s federal section brings together all physical therapists who work for the federal government, which includes the Department of Defense, Veterans Health Administration and Department of Health and Human Service. It is open to physical therapists on active duty as well as civilians recruited through people like Lynch.

With a brother in the armed forces, Lynch long felt a call to serve the country through military service. He also wanted to pursue a medical career. Then, he discovered medical service would enable him to make a career of both.

“I love soldiers and servicemen and servicewomen — they’re a phenomenal group,” Lynch said. “When you’re in Afghanistan, you’re climbing up mountains with 80-plus pounds of gear. That breaks the body down. It’s like dog years on your body, so a lot of people need help.”

These duties add to a strong leadership portfolio he’s developing at Bradley through roles such as DPT class president. Such experiences have given him a new appreciation for training that will provide a quality foundation for his future military career.  

“It’s a great privilege to represent Bradley,” he said. “Being chosen for this position says a lot about the DPT program and how it’s prepared us to be responsible, dependable leaders. This is a great opportunity to spread the word because we’ve got such a good program.”