Recent PT grad Lyndsey Crosbie ’20 builds advocacy for her new industry
As Lyndsey Crosbie approached graduation from Wayne State’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, she was optimistic about landing a job. She had performed well in the classroom and during each clinical rotation, the hands-on hallmark of all Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences programs. It’s not uncommon for highly valued students to receive a job offer from their final clinic location, and Crosbie could definitely see herself starting her career there. Then, the day after she finished her last internship, the clinic closed and furloughed its entire staff.
Crosbie was aware of the coronavirus, sure, but it wasn’t her primary concern at the time. Studying for her board exams while in her first trimester of pregnancy took precedence over the nightly news, and she was admittedly disconnected from what was happening in the world when the clinic sustained its first COVID-19 exposure. With eight days left in her rotation and colleagues worried about her pregnancy, Crosbie’s clinical instructor said, “You’re competent at entry level or above in all areas and I’m comfortable telling Wayne State you’ve passed as far as I’m concerned.”
Assistant Clinical Professor and Clinical Education Director Martha Schiller was quick to agree. It was the beginning of the pandemic when days were fraught, there were more questions than answers, and WSU Applebaum faculty members were pivoting on a dime to keep students safe and on track.
Not landing a job right away ended up being a better scenario than Crosbie could have imagined. It gave her time and space to move into a new house with her husband Stephen, welcome daughter Emmalea to the world and become a grassroots advocate for her industry through the Michigan chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
A big reason Crosbie was able to juggle so many major responsibilities during a pandemic is because she entered the DPT program as a second-career student, so she already knew how to manage work-life balance. After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, she spent time working for a major financial institution. “I was in a sales position that I didn’t love,” she said. “It was much less collaborative than I wanted — I felt like an island.”
While searching for a new path, she shadowed people in a few different industries and fell for physical therapy. “It’s a very cooperative profession,” she said. “I observed physical therapists who’d been practicing for 10 or 20 years asking colleagues with much less experience for their opinions. I really liked the way the team interacted.”
She found that same spirit at WSU Applebaum, where her cohort helped one another through the coursework. “Before practical exams, we’d have all-night study sessions in the ortho lab and then sit in the hallway to eat pizza together,” she said. “We laughed a lot.”
Crosbie felt like she found a second family at WSU Applebaum. When she volunteered at the college’s monthly information meetings, she always told prospective students that the PT class student-to-instructor ratio was tiny compared to competitors’ programs and meant closer connections between classmates and faculty.
“Vicky Pardo was my research mentor and when she asked me how I was doing, I felt like we were friends at a coffee shop,” Crosbie said, adding that the assistant clinical professor was so sincere and thoughtful that “she made me feel really valued.”
Crosbie also felt powerful support from Schiller and Assistant Clinical Professor and Program Director Kristina Reid.
“I’m Facebook friends with so many of my teachers now,” Crosbie said. “In fact, I just had a Zoom call with Tina Reid because I was worried about Emmalea not rolling over on schedule and I knew she could help.”
Reid said the mother-and-daughter duo then repaid the favor by serving as an example for a pediatric lesson with current students. “Lyndsey has stayed involved with the program and is going to be one of those valued alumni who don’t stop their engagement at graduation.
“We love second-career students because they bring different viewpoints than those who come to us straight from undergrad,” Reid continued. “Lyndsey’s experience working in the business world helped her mentor classmates and succeed with her APTA involvement.”
Putting down roots
In Crosbie’s third year at WSU, she was named APTA Michigan’s first-ever student federal affairs liaison. “All WSU Applebaum DPT students join the APTA, but going beyond membership to serve in this role gave me the chance to use my sales skills from my banking career,” Crosbie said.
The position took her to Washington, D.C., for Hill Day, where she was impressed by how closely legislators listened when she made her case: “So much of what you see in the news about politics is negative, but when I was in lawmakers’ offices, it didn’t matter what their party was, it didn’t matter what policies they’d supported in the past — I was humbled and blown away by how much everyone was interested in listening to me advocate for our industry.”
Even after she graduated but had yet to land a position, Crosbie continued working on grassroots advocacy. Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, Crosbie attended several virtual town halls with federal lawmakers to bring their attention to COVID and non-COVID issues that impact physical therapy.
In December 2020, APTA Michigan appointed her to serve on its board of directors as the association’s federal affairs liaison. She has spoken about physical therapy issues ranging from telehealth coverage to Medicare reimbursement cuts with lawmakers such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Debbie Dingell, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters, often enlisting the help of WSU Applebaum contacts who live in each lawmaker’s district.
The experience has made such a profound impression that Crosbie hopes to eventually work in public policy. “I jokingly asked my husband if he wants to move to D.C.,” Crosbie said, adding that they could very well do that one day. But for now, she’s putting into practice techniques she learned at WSU Applebaum. Crosbie recently started her first post-grad job at the St. Clair Shores location of Team Rehabilitation and has happily added “helping people recover from serious diseases” to her multitasking agenda.
An anchor in urban health care
The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 26,000 students.