Every day, Randi Richardson walks into the clinic excited to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
She has never seen her role as a physical therapist as work. Rather, she sees it as helping people. Whether it is a patient regaining their mobility, or educating students entering the profession, Richardson says her job is never boring and every day brings something new.
Like many physical therapists, Richardson had a personal encounter with physical therapy that drove her interest in the career. When she was 12 years old, her mother suffered a shoulder injury and had physical therapy to improve her range of motion. Occasionally, Richardson attended sessions with her. As she watched her mother heal and reclaim normal functionality, she began to see a connection between athletes, injuries, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
“I thought it was a really fun profession,” Richardson said. “I saw what a difference it made in my mother’s life, and I wanted to do the same for other people.”
After graduating with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree, Richardson did a year-long physical therapy residency with the University of Mississippi where she worked with high school and college athletes, focusing on rehabilitation and management of sports injuries.
Following her residency, she earned her specialization in sports physical therapy, which aided in her ultimate goal of providing optimal care for young adults and athletic populations. After residency, she worked in outpatient sports physical therapy clinics with these populations, and later even became board-certified in orthopedic physical therapy.
“For many of my patients, they are seeing me at a low point in their life after sustaining a debilitating injury. To see them, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, return back to that high level of functioning and competing and get their life back – it’s really rewarding,” Richardson says.
After being in the clinic for years, Richardson wanted to expand her impact beyond herself and her patients, so she started taking UCF PT students as a clinical instructor. She caught the teaching bug and started looking for more opportunities to teach. When a position at UCF opened that was a hybrid role of teaching students in the clinic and treating patients, she knew it was the perfect fit.
Richardson was integral to establishing the UCF Physical Therapy Clinic and has led the clinical operations since joining in 2020. Even during the pandemic, Richardson helped establish a strong patient base for the new clinic that surpassed projections for its first year of operations.
“This is what I feel called to do,” she said. “This brings me joy and I feel that I’m in the right place.”