Faculty Highlight: Joel Bialosky

Head shot of Dr. Joel BialoskyIn this edition, we highlight Joel Bialosky, PT, PhD, FAAOMPT, OCS, clinical associate professor, and ask him a couple questions regarding his time as a PhD student in the Rehabilitation Science Program, what he enjoys the most as an instructor, and fond memories he’s had over the years.

How long have you been teaching?

I transitioned to a faculty role in 2008 so I’m into my 11th year now.  I was a teaching assistant while working on my PhD and a clinical instructor for over 10 years prior to starting my PhD. I consider both of those important teaching experiences as well.

What do you teach?

I teach manual therapy, the musculoskeletal courses, the pain portion of our modalities course, and one of our evidence-based practice courses.

What do you enjoy teaching the most and why?

My favorite topics to teach are anything related to pain and the spine units in our musculoskeletal courses.

What initially got you interested in physical therapy?

I was fortunate to stumble into a career I love after I was already committed.  I obtained my entry level physical therapy degree through a bachelor’s program.  I was accepted straight out of high school as an 18-year-old and admittedly did not have a clear understanding of what a physical therapist did or the requirements of the field. My true interest in the profession, and specifically working in an outpatient orthopedic setting, didn’t occur until I started working with an amazing clinical mentor with a strong outpatient orthopedic background after I had been practicing for nearly two years.

You graduated from the Rehabilitation Science PhD program — how has that benefited you?

I enjoyed clinical care; however, my passion was always for research and working with students.  I had a tremendous opportunity to work in an academic medical center and was able to assist with research studies, earn an advanced master’s degree in musculoskeletal physical therapy, become recognized as fellowship trained in manual therapy, and become a board certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy. I also continually acted as a clinical instructor and loved helping the students translate their classroom knowledge into clinical practice.  I knew I would be happier in a full time academic role; however, I required a PhD to be competitive for these openings.  An opportunity fell into my lap to come to the University of Florida and discuss enrolling in the Rehabilitation Science PhD program.  I was skeptical but completely sold after meeting with the faculty and learning of the resources. Fortunately, I have a very understanding wife.

What are some fun memories you can recall from teaching?

Dr. Fuller lighting up the students in a faculty versus student basketball game.  Dr. Forbes’ epic kickball performance.  Watching the students depict the other faculty members every year in the skits at the holiday party. Quoting Chuck Noll and telling the students to “act like you’ve been here before” every year when teaching spinal manipulation.  The IT Band and other student-formed musical groups.  The Nicaragua trip. Student’s apprehension when waiting to see who “examiner 1” is on a practical or competency.

Dr. Bialosky in a Bialosky Bombers shirt

I heard about something called the Bialosky Bombers, could you comment on that?

Well, the University would prefer this never gets out but rumor has it a band of underachieving students came together under the banner of “Bialosky Bombers.” The legend is that this struggling and athletically challenged group took on my namesake and donned t- shirts with my likeness.  This group is said to have magically transformed and won the intramural championship in every sport for the remainder of their time in the program. Sadly, you will never hear of these accomplishments as shortly thereafter I was declared a banned substance and their names and achievements were struck from all record books.  Current intramural players are now randomly tested to assure they are not wearing a Bialosky Bomber shirt under their uniform and anyone caught receives a lifetime suspension. At least, that is what I have been told…

What are all of the student activities you’re involved in — March Madness, Fall Kickball — are there others? What’s your favorite?

Both the faculty and students are extremely busy and it is easy to get caught up in the daily requirements.  I have always loved sports and enjoyed the camaraderie.  It’s tough to find time but I enjoy trying to organize at least one faculty versus student event while a class is with us. It’s a great chance for everyone to be together without the stress and formality of the classroom.