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Katie Olson Hilo

Dr. Katie Olson Hilo describes physical therapy as very goal oriented; that’s a pretty good way to describe her as well.

When Katie Olson Hilo was a teenager, her high school coach invited her to come along to her daughter’s physical therapy appointment. Hilo was so fascinated by what she observed, the therapist invited her to spend the summer shadowing her. Hilo took her up on the offer and spent over 100 hours watching the therapist work. “I came out of that thinking, this is what I want to do,” Hilo remembers today. “And now, 14 years later, I’m a pediatric physical therapist and loving every minute of it.”

Of course, it didn’t happen without some effort. In 2000, Hilo won the TYLENOL® Future Care Scholarship, which she applied toward her undergraduate studies at Springfield College in Massachusetts. She went on to earn a master of science in physical therapy from Springfield, followed by a doctorate of physical therapy from Temple University in Philadelphia. “The nice thing about those academic programs is that they give you lots of hands-on experience,” she says, “instead of just years of classroom work.”

I feel so fortunate
to have found my passion.


Hilo translated that hands-on experience into positions at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Select Physical Therapy, Eastern Maine Medical Center, and other inpatient and outpatient facilities. Today she practices at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.  Now that she has worked with such a wide range of patients, she says the most satisfying part of her career is seeing people reach their goals – no matter what those goals might be. “Whether you’re teaching new skills to parents of a newborn, or helping a child reach a developmental milestone, or getting a 90-year-old back to the activities of daily living, I find it all rewarding. To see people reach those goals, no matter how big or small they are; it’s pretty special to be a part of it.”

Hilo encourages anyone interested in physical therapy to investigate the many different options available in the field. “Just keep an open mind, and try to find the area that fits your personality the best. If you’re open minded, doors will open,”  she says, “and if you enjoy working with people, it’s definitely a field you should look into.”

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