Physical Therapist Andrea Zujko Helps Keep Ballet Dancers in Top Form

Andrea Zujko has always been involved in dance. After performing regionally throughout high school, she earned a scholarship to The Ailey School in NYC, where, in addition to performing, she volunteered at Westside Dance Physical Therapy and the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries.

Getting There

Zujko earned her clinical doctorate in physical therapy at Northwestern University in Chicago and began working at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Joffrey Ballet, where she made contacts that led to opportunities to work with dancers on tour who passed through Chicago. She then moved back to NYC where she has practiced at WDPT for the last three years and at School of American Ballet for the past two years. She works with dancers of all ages and technical levels who are at various stages of their performing careers.

If You’re Interested:

  • Intern with a therapist before college to help you determine whether or not the field is right for you. Contact local dance physical therapists (or regular PTs if none in your area specialize in dance) to see if they offer volunteer positions or if they know of any clinics or larger facilities that offer internships.
  • Establish and maintain contacts. Not only are contacts important for finding jobs, but they are also helpful in gaining credibility and keeping up with changes within the world of physical therapy.
  • Gain experience for a larger market by working in a smaller market. There are more employment opportunities in areas that have fewer practicing physical therapists for dancers.

So You Know

Hours: 40-hour work week when dance companies aren’t in season, an extra 10 to 12 hours per month when in season.

Starting salary: Ranges from $45,000 to $50,000 and increases depending on the type of facility you work at.

Required Education: Both an undergraduate degree and graduate degree are required in order to practice. The graduate degree can be either a master’s or a clinical doctorate.

Additional Certification: “There is a national certification exam,” Zujko says, “but each state requires a specific score in order for you to be certified. Therefore you must apply for certification on a state-by-state basis.” In other words, if you move to a new state, you must reapply for certification. Typically, certification must be renewed yearly (though guidelines vary by state), which may include continuing education.

Daily Business: Working with patients, taking care of appropriate documentation, working one on one with doctors, and discussing costs—and any other issues that may arise—with insurance companies.

Kelly Mezzatesta, a recent graduate of DeSales University, is a freelance writer currently living in Connecticut.

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