Spinal Cord Injury Program Therapy Myrtice Atrice, DPT, Manager Discusses How Shepherd Center Has Changed Over the Past 40 Years
This National Physical Therapy Month, we celebrate Shepherd Center's amazing PTs.
Myrtice Atrice, DPT, has worked at Shepherd Center since 1979 and has served as a clinical manager since 1984. She is a mentor, trainer and resource for Shepherd Center’s team of therapists within the Spinal Cord Injury Program.
Q: Knowing there is really no such thing, what’s a typical workday like for you?
A: The most important part of my job is making sure our therapists have everything they need to do their work. Sometimes that’s mentoring, sometimes that’s program development, sometimes it’s hands-on training with new therapists. Just being a resource. I still get a little time each week to work with patients directly, usually while teaching skills with staff. You have to continue to see patients to maintain or master a skill, and I hope to continue to add new skills to my toolbox.
Q: As a “resident dean” on campus, do you enjoy your role as a mentor?
A: Absolutely. Everybody needs a mentor. It doesn’t matter if you’re younger or older. It always helps to have someone you can lean on, especially when you’re in a new situation. Working with new staff members is something I’ve always loved. I’m inspired by all of the different strengths and perspectives people bring with them. It keeps you on your toes. You buy into that enthusiasm for the new ideas they bring. So I still learn from everyone else, too.
Q: What first drew you to Shepherd Center?
A: I was working as a physical therapist at the Easter Seals rehabilitation clinic, just around the corner from Shepherd Center’s original location. Shepherd’s physical therapy manager at the time, Carol Coogler, kept popping in and saying, “Don’t you want to come work with us?” In 1979, our Easter Seals clinic was closing, so that gave me a bit more impetus to make the move. When I first visited Shepherd Center, I thought it was crazy – in such a good way. Lots of activity, lots of energy. It was exciting, and I could tell that everyone enjoyed working with patients there.
Q: Anything that’s changed in the 40 years since you’ve been at Shepherd Center?
A: A lot has changed. A whole lot! From documentation to staffing to treatment. We keep up with the times, myself included. I went back and got my doctor of physical therapy degree in 2013. That was a lot of extra learning that’s made a big impact on how I work. Additionally, I completed training to be a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) in 2015. This new program at Shepherd Center continues to grow and has been a great benefit to better serve our patients across all programs. So things constantly change, but the same spirit is still here. I’m happy about that. The only difference now is that I get to tell all of our young therapists, “I’ve been working here since before you were born!”
Alabama State University (Doctor of Physical Therapy)
Georgia State University (Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy)
- Dr. Atrice grew up on a farm in Miller County, Ga. The county’s current population is 5,932.
- She was a four-year varsity basketball player in high school.
- She has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 1987.
- Favorite hobby: Gardening with her husband, participating in youth programs and serving family members.
- Favorite memory from her early days at Shepherd Center: The “Field Day” competition pitting patients against staff. “Putting a therapist or doctor in the dunk tank was a favorite for the patients!”
Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.