Contributions from Taya Skarda and Megan Otto
March is Women’s History Month, and with that in mind, we will be highlighting a few of the incredible women that help to make up the PRN network of physical therapy clinics across the country. We are thrilled to end our series with a conversation with Taya Skarda, PT, DPT, CSCS, COMT, Clinic Director and Co-Owner at ProActive Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine – Aurora-Central.
Question: Where did you go to college and how did you balance your education along with your extracurricular activities?
Taya: I went to Appalachian State University in my home state of North Carolina for my undergraduate degree. I majored in exercise science with a minor in biology and physiology. In college, I participated in club sports like flag football and softball. I also worked three jobs – I was a waitress, snowboard instructor and worked at a local retail store. Looking back, I am honestly not sure how I balanced it all. I’ve always been driven and getting into PT school was my primary goal, no matter how hard I had to work to get there. I was on my own to get it done and I felt like there was no other option other than to work hard to achieve my goal. I was motivated and determined to have a career that I loved!
Question: Why did you want to go into the field of physical therapy? What drew you to it?
Taya: From a young age, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I had a softball injury that resulted in knee surgery at the age of 16 that opened my eyes up to the world of physical therapy. I was very drawn to the idea of helping people and getting them back to a good quality of life.
Question: What makes you so passionate about the field of physical therapy?
Taya: I have a passion for the human body’s amazing ability to take us to new places and experience new things. The power to use your hands to help someone get back to doing what they love is a very gratifying and rewarding experience. My favorite part about my job is that I get to become a part of a person’s life, know their family and learn their story. It is all very humbling and gives me a fulfilling feeling daily.
Question: After graduating from college, where did you begin working? How did you come to eventually run the ProActive Physical Therapy – Aurora-Central clinic as the clinic director?
Taya: My first job out of school was at an outpatient clinic that I had interned at previously. I worked there for three years and then in 2011, I joined the PRN team at Action Potential in Colorado Springs for a year. From there, I moved to Denver to be closer to family after having my son. I eventually transitioned to ProActive Physical Therapy in Aurora, which is where my work ethic and commitment to a high level of patient care gave me a spotlight. After five years, I was offered a partnership and director role at the Aurora-Central clinic. My values match the ProActive model and it immediately felt like the right fit. I’m honored to be seen for the work I do and to be trusted to handle the obstacles that surround management and continued growth of the company.
Question: As a working mom, how do you balance the roles of clinic director, businesswoman, practicing physical therapist and mother?
Taya: This is one of the most difficult challenges. Early on, I learned that you can only be supermom for so long until your tank runs out of gas. It’s important to have a strong partner to help behind the scenes. If you don’t, you quickly have to figure out how to delegate to take the stress of your plate. I am a firm believer in the work hard, play hard mentality, and I regularly take that to heart as I do a lot of outdoor adventuring, meeting up with friends and traveling. I have learned to not feel so guilty when I forget something, can’t attend all the sporting events, or can’t make everything happen perfectly. It’s like flipping a switch between businesswoman, physical therapist, mom and adventure enthusiast, as I weave in and out of these roles daily and have to be wise with my time. Being prepared and planning ahead is what keeps me moving forward and allows me to juggle all the hats I have.
Question: Have you had any mentors along your journey who have guided or significantly impacted you?
Taya: I attribute my work ethic to my single working mom to two daughters. She never stopped and that has instilled in me the drive to be highly motivated in anything I do. I have had a few physical therapists that I have practiced with or been instructed by that have made me realize that I should always keep learning and never be stagnant, as then you are doing a disservice to the people you are trying to help. They set a high bar for me to keep an above average standard of care, and I think that is why I have so many return patients – some for over eight years!
Question: Why is it important that women are involved in the field of physical therapy, especially as leaders?
Taya: Physical therapy in general, is a very female-dominant profession as we have a very nurturing nature and want to care for others. Female leaders in physical therapy is where we see a disconnect. It is difficult for women to progress into a leadership role when we are juggling a family life as well. Breaking free of how society views us, proving our knowledge and work ethic is how we can keep chipping away at the imbalance. Confidence is a key factor for me in handling the pressure and stress associated with running a business. I encourage women to harness their courage and gain their independence to keep moving forward as leaders to keep younger generations progressing.
PRN is dedicated to creating an inclusive, diverse workforce that values honesty, integrity and dedication to delivering value to our patients. We believe that our customer’s experience is only as good as our employees and that’s why we go to great lengths to take care of everyone at our company. We can’t meet that goal without passionate, intelligent and innovative employees.
If you are interested in becoming a part of our growing team, we invite you to search for an open opportunity and apply.