Conversations with Clinicians: Sneha Gazi, PT, DPT
Sneha Gazi, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist, Co-Founder & Executive Director of PTIS
Current Physical Therapy Setting
Pediatric Orthopedics (Pelvic Health, Pediatrics, and Dance Medicine) and Concierge & Telehealth Services
DPT Program Attended
Today, we sit down with Sneha Gazi, PT, DPT, to discuss her journey as a physical therapist, her podcast “Fit as a Fiddle,” her involvement in Physical Therapy International Service Foundation, and her expertise in working with patients in the pelvic health, pediatrics, and dance medicine populations.
Why did you decide to become a physical therapist?
I always loved movement. I’ve been a dancer my whole life. My mother is a dance teacher and our basement was the dance studio so I was touring the country with dance productions by age 5. I also love science and the human body. I love working one-on-one with people. PT is such an amazing blend of all of these pieces and I wouldn’t change my life as a PT for anything!
What made you choose the physical therapy school that you ultimately attended?
I went to NYU for undergrad and built quite a solid foundation in Manhattan. I’ve always wanted to go to Columbia from when I was a kid so it was the perfect opportunity!
What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of physical therapy school?
The most challenging part initially was learning the language of physical therapy. It’s a whole different way of thinking of movement and science and the body. The most rewarding part of school was my lifelong friends!
How did you decide to work in the outpatient physical therapy setting?
I did a clinical in acute care and knew it wasn’t for me. I needed to see tons of variety and be challenged with new and different cases every day. Outpatient gives me that opportunity. I travel to one patient who’s a 60 year old with frozen shoulder, the next is a 12 year old toe walker, the next is a 33 year old post C-section recovery, then a 4 month old with Torticollis, and ending my day with a 40 year old man with an ankle injury from running. It keeps me on my toes and my days are never boring!
Why did you decide to specialize within pelvic health physical therapy, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and performing arts? What’s your favorite aspect of working with these population?
Pelvic health is such an underserved field! It’s crazy that not every PT is well versed in understanding the pelvis. It’s like knowing everything about the elbow and nothing about the shoulder. I say I’m a pelvic floor PT but really I’m a PT that ALSO treats pelvic floors. I think TMJ issues are also so prevalent and under-diagnosed. Sometimes simple manual techniques and pain management strategies can change someone’s life when they have chronic jaw pain. And of course, dance is my first true love and I understand the pressure of needing to go back on stage after an injury. This population is very dear to me.
What inspired you to start your podcast, Fit As a Fiddle? What’s been the most rewarding aspect of hosting your podcast?
I joke that I somehow always create extensive loads of unpaid work for myself! But if I’m being serious, interviewing people for Fit as a Fiddle to provide free health and wellness education to people is probably my second favorite thing I do right now outside of treating a patient. I came to NY to be a journalist so producing a YouTube series, writing blogs, creating a podcast, and having a digital presence is all just me fulfilling my passions in one place. My favorite part of the podcast is when random people from the world email me that they learned something new from an episode and it changed their life!
Tell me about Physical Therapy International Service Foundation (PTIS).
PTIS is actually more of my baby than my own private practice is sometimes. The mission of PTIS is to provide free physical therapy services and health education to underserved communities globally while providing a platform for student PTs to gain skills in the field. I thought of the idea in PT school. Soon I graduated and incorporated PTIS as a 501(c)(3) and I on-boarded my friend and classmate, Maria Muto, as a co-director. She and I work so well together and split up tasks to push forward all our service projects! Now we conduct everything virtually, which has been amazing because we can do so many projects in a month as opposed to 1-2 a year. We have four tiers of offerings currently, but we shape everything to fit the needs of whatever community we are serving. We have health education workshops (on any topic like fall prevention or the COVID vaccine), professional advocacy workshops (to help high school and college students enter healthcare fields), movement classes (for anyone like children in homeless shelters or postpartum parents), and pro bono treatment sessions. Everything we do is through our passionate and steadfast set of over 100 volunteer PTs and SPTs. We also have an incredible team of pre-PTs within our social media committee who manage our digital presence. We are incredibly grateful to all our volunteers and are so excited to see PTIS grow and serve more people year after year!
What’s one piece of advice you would like to share with future physical therapists?
Be a PT because you actually like being around people and serving them day after day. I see too many people burning out because of their workload and they start losing sight of why they decided to do this. It doesn’t help that we leave school with insane student debt. But at the end, I thank the greater powers every day that I got to bring light into someone’s life through my work. Find that passion and stick to it.