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Physical therapist Scot Sawyer joins faculty

When Heidi Shearin, director of clinical education, encouraged Scot Sawyer to apply for the position of assistant professor of health professional studies within the new doctor of physical therapy program at Campbell University, Sawyer wasn’t quite sure he was cut out to be a full time faculty member.  Fortunately, his outlook has changed and he is the newest member to join the doctor of physical therapy faculty on campus.


Sawyer  was not one who always wanted to become a physical therapist. Instead, he started his career in engineering and woodworking in the sailboat industry. After spending several years building 40 foot sailboats and working his way up to middle management positions, he set his mind to completing his formal education and that’s when the physical therapy light bulb came on.


“Physical therapy was a natural route for me to explore,” Sawyer said. “The systems in the body that physical therapy applies to can be simplified into biomechanics and engineering and that’s what I had been doing throughout my career.”


After receiving his bachelor of science in physical therapy, he went to work as a manual therapist in an outpatient facility and from there he started taking on long-term care management contracts.


“One of my goals starting out as a PT was to expose myself to as much as I possibly could,” he said. “I think it’s important to constantly reassess and make changes along the way.”


Those changes, along with his personal life experiences of defeating cancer and overcoming Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, eventually led him to specialize in electrophysiological muscle and nerve testing, or applying electricity to muscle and nervous tissue.


While researching and practicing physical therapy, Sawyer was eventually turned on to teaching by his colleagues. Being a proponent of teamwork and receiving honest, constructive feedback, he made the decision to become an educator after being told over and over again that he would make a great teacher. He has been teaching in an adjunct capacity since 1995 and is excited to tackle his first semester here at Campbell in the spring.


“It’s really fun to watch the light bulb come on,” he said. “And that’s not because of me. It’s because the student figured out a way to make the information make sense for them. That reaction is why I love to teach.”


Sawyer is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Electrophysiology Section, and the American Congress of Electroneuromyographers. His research interests include: H-Reflex activity before and after spinal manipulation, clinical access to electroneuromyography services in rural health settings, and development of wellness programs for patients with cancer. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking, sailing, and is currently attempting to master the banjo.