Earlier this year, Mizzou alumnus Robert Schaal gave the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Missouri School of Health Professions an endowment to support immediate and future scholarship awards for PT students. When asked about his decision to give back, Mr. Schaal responded, “I am very passionate about Mizzou, SHP, and the PT department. I love my profession and I’m extremely thankful and blessed to be where I am right now. Mizzou has obviously played a huge role in this, so I hope to help others have the same opportunities.”
With no previous ties to the university, newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. Schaal chose to attend Mizzou in order to be closer to family in the Kansas City area. Mr. Schaal started school for business, but an injury requiring multiple surgeries and physical therapy visits inspired a career shift. Not wanting to scrap the 3 years of school he already completed, Mr. Schaal switched to Health Services Management (’85), then went straight into PT (’87).
Since his time at MU, Mr. Schaal has pursued a variety of career opportunities. “Upon graduation, I went to work for the Columbia Sports Medicine Center within the Columbia Orthopaedic Group. After 2 years there, I left to open my own PT business in Palestine, Texas. After about 3 ½ years, my wife, kids, and I felt like we were too far from family, so we moved back to Columbia where we opened Columbia Physical Therapy, later purchased by HealthSouth. I served as the Administrator for HealthSouth over the Mid-Missouri region. After 5 years, I left to open Peak Performance Physical Therapy, which grew to 11 locations throughout Mid-Missouri. After about 6 years, I sold my interest in Peak Performance and went to work for Nueterra Healthcare. We developed a business line that helped PTs start their own practice – we developed and managed the practice, so the PT could focus on the clinical care. I spent about 5 years doing this, but grew tired of traveling. About that time, MU was building the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute and I was asked if I would consider coming to work for the MOI. I have now been here for the past 6 ½ years,” explains Mr. Schaal.
Mr. and Mrs. Schaal are now joined as alumni by their daughter Kari (health science), and son, Ryan, and his wife, Katie (both PT). Ryan chose Mizzou for graduate school because it was the community he grew up in and where his parents lived. “I have always been a supporter of MU and have known and respect many of the professors and staff in the PT program. Because of this, Mizzou was my only real option. I ended up meeting my wife in the PT program and couldn’t be more thankful for my experience,” comments Ryan. Being surrounded by PT his whole life, Ryan saw the impact it made on peoples’ lives and wanted to be a part of that community. After graduating with Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), Ryan spent four years working at MOI, one year at an outpatient orthopaedic facility in Ashland, and is currently working with the Mizzou Biojoint program.
Ryan’s wife Katie chose Mizzou after attending a football game and falling in love with the environment. With therapy and rehabilitation as interests, Katie researched the School of Health Professions and found it had an excellent reputation. In 2007, she graduated with a bachelor’s in health sciences and bachelor’s of occupational therapy, and instead of pursuing a Master of OT degree, she chose the DPT program. Katie attributes her career choice to an athletic injury in high school that led her to four rounds of physical therapy. Each time, the therapists worked hard to get her back into the game. It was then that she knew she wanted to work with patients to conquer their goals. After working in the outpatient clinic at Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville, Katie accepted a position with Mizzou Therapy Services. Katie notes, “Having my occupational therapy background gives me a unique perspective and helps me every day in giving my patients the best care that I can give them.”
Schaal’s endowed gift will fund scholarships for PT students who are veterans and from a rural community.