In this episode, Founder of the Rizing Tide Foundation, Heidi Jannenga, returns to the podcast to talk about fostering diversity in the physical therapy industry.

Today, Heidi talks about the incredible work being done by the Rizing Tide Foundation, the process of awarding scholarships, and future Rizing Tide developments. Which changes still need to be made in the industry?

Hear about the growing student debt problem, how you can get involved with Rizing Tide, and get Heidi’s advice to her younger self, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.


Key Takeaways

  • “Almost every single one of them [students] were working full-time jobs at the same time as going to PT school. Some of them, more than one job.”
  • “There’s a huge segment of the folks that answered that survey that have more than $150,000 of debt post-graduation.”
  • “It takes a lot to try to balance the price of education to what we actually are getting paid as clinicians.”
  • “A rising tide raises all boats.”
  • “Be open-minded to a path that you may not have thought that you might go down.”
  • “If something aligns with your vision and values, then go for it.”


More about Heidi Jannenga

Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, is the founder of the Rizing Tide Foundation, which seeks to inspire more diversity and inclusiveness in the physical therapy industry. Each year, Rizing Tide presents scholarships to five promising BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students who are on the path to earning their Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) or furthering their PT education by pursuing a residency program.

In addition, Heidi is a physical therapist and the co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of WebPT, a nine-time Inc. 5000 honoree and the leading software solution for physical, occupational, and speech therapists.  As a member of the board and senior management team, Heidi advises on WebPT’s product vision, company culture, branding efforts and internal operations, while advocating for rehab therapists, women leaders, and entrepreneurs on a national and international scale. Since the company launched in 2008, Heidi has guided WebPT through exponential growth. Today, it’s the fastest-growing physical therapy software in the country, employing over 600 people and serving more than 90,000 therapy professionals – equating to an industry-leading 40% market-share.

In 2017, Heidi was honored by Health Data Management as one of the most powerful women in IT, and she was a finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2018, she was named the Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year at the Arizona Technology Council’s Governor’s Celebration of Innovation. In addition to serving on numerous non-profit leadership boards, Heidi is a proud member of the YPO Scottsdale Chapter and Charter 100 as well as an investor with Golden Seeds, which focuses on women-founded or led organizations.

Heidi is a mother to her 10-year-old daughter Ava and enjoys traveling, hiking, mountain biking and practicing yoga in her spare time.


Suggested Keywords

Healthy, Wealthy, Smart, Physiotherapy, Representation, Scholarships, Diversity, Inclusivity, BIPOC, Student Debt, Education, Opportunity,



Higher Education? By Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus.

Apply for a Rizing Tide Scholarship.


To learn more, follow Heidi at:


Twitter:            @HeidiJannenga

LinkedIn:         Heidi Jannenga


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Read the Full Transcript Here:


rising tide, scholarship, pt, students, people, heidi, industry, physical therapist, foundation, profession, podcast, scholarship program, year, works, residency programs, physical therapy, pts, residency, crest, education



Welcome to the healthy, wealthy and smart podcast. Each week we interview the best and brightest in physical therapy, wellness and entrepreneurship. We give you cutting edge information you need to live your best life healthy, wealthy and smart. The information in this podcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as personalized medical advice. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Karen Litzy.



Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I’m wishing you all a very happy New Year and welcome to the first episode of 2022. We’ve got a great one in store. But first, a big thank you to Net Health for sponsoring today’s podcast episode. So when it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and referrals, Net Health Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found get chosen and get five star reviews. So they have a new offer. If you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic win. They will buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using NET Health’s private practice EMR, be sure to ask about his new integration, head over to net forward slash li T zy to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit. Okay, on today’s episode I’m really excited to have back on the podcast Dr. Heidi J. Nanga. She is the founder of the rising tide Foundation which seeks to inspire more diversity and inclusiveness in the physical therapy industry. Each year rising tide presents scholarships to five promising bipoc students who are on the path to earning their doctorate of physical therapy, or furthering their PT education by pursuing a residency program. In addition, Heidi is a physical therapist and the Co Founder and Chief Clinical Officer of web PT, a nine Time Inc 5000 honoree and the leading software solution for physical occupational speech therapist. As a member of the board and senior management team Heidi advises on web PTS, product vision company culture branding, efforts, and internal operations while advocating for rehab therapist women leaders and entrepreneurs on a national international scale. Since the company launched in 2008, Heidi has guided web PT through exponential growth. Today, it’s the fastest growing physical therapy software in the country employing over 700 people serving more than 90,000 therapy professionals, equating to an industry leading 40% market share. In 2017, Heidi was honored by health data management as one of the most powerful women in it. She was a finalist for he wise Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. She was named Ed Dennison, Business Leader of the Year at the Arizona Technology Council’s governor’s celebration of innovation. In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit leadership boards, Heidi’s a proud member of the YPO Scottsdale chapter and charter 100 as well as an investor with golden seats which focuses on women founded or led organizations. She is also the mother’s 10 year old daughter Ava enjoys traveling hiking, mountain biking and practicing yoga in her spare time when that spare time is I don’t know. So today we are talking about the rising tide Foundation. And if you are a physical therapist and you are hoping to go into residency or you’re in your residency, you must listen to this episode because you can win a scholarship from the rising tide foundation. If you’re listening to this today, Monday, you have until Friday in order to to submit an application to the rising tide foundation to get a scholarship for your residency. So get on it people a big thank you to Heidi and everyone enjoyed today’s episode. Hey, Heidi, welcome back to the podcast. Happy to have you back on.



Hey, Karen, so great to be here. Thanks so much for having me.



And so today we’re going to be talking about a foundation called the rising tide foundation. So what is it and why did you decide to start this foundation?



Well, thanks so much for having me on. And to be able to talk about this because it really is a has been a labor of love. And a true way for me to give back to a profession that has given so much to me. The Rising Tide foundation really started after a few years of us doing the real estate of rehab therapy industry report which you and I have talked about on this podcast, and every year. There doesn’t seem to be a change into two major things that we ask the serve the people that we survey, one was what you mentioned student debt, and actually, not that it hasn’t changed, it’s actually increasing. And that’s a big burden, as you can imagine, to an industry. And then second was actually the biggest emphasis, which is the the, the lack of diversity within our profession. And being a person who identifies as a person of color. The fact that we have this lack of diversity has been a real, real issue, that hasn’t made much change, despite, you know, the APTA and others sort of bringing attention to the issue. But the percentages as far as what the makeup of our profession looks like, has not changed has not really changed at all, in the last five years that we’ve been doing that survey. And so that was really the two major impetus behind me starting this foundation, I’ve been lucky enough to have financial success with web pt. And so had started the rising tide Foundation, not knowing what I wanted to do with the foundation back at the end of 2019. And then with everything that happened through 2020, it just sort of hit me over the head that this is something that I can personally make a difference in, within our profession. And



what exactly does the rising tide foundation do?



It is a scholarship program. So we have two tracks of scholars. We have the crest Scholarship, which is actually geared towards new and new students coming into the profession. And so we provide $14,000 scholarships to three participants, or three scholars, three scholarship winners, that is renewable for the three years PT school, and then we have to serve scholarships, which actually is for physical therapists who are going on to residency programs. And those are $10,000 each, for the one your usual one year program of residency. How, how



are these winners chosen? What give us a peek sort of behind the curtains, if you will, as to how the process works, so that if people listening to this, whether you are a physical therapy student, or you are one of those people like Gosh, I really want to do a residency, but I don’t know how I can make it work financially. So how can these folks apply to the program and and like I said, gives a little peek behind the curtain on how it all works?



Sure, well, first and foremost, you have to qualify and so if you go to rising dash, you will find all of the specific sort of qualifications that are required. So for example, for the crest scholarship, you are either an undergraduate who is applying or an undergraduate who is applying to PT school. So you have will have graduated from an undergraduate with an undergraduate degree going on to DPT program, or you’re a PTA that’s entering into a PTA Bridge Program, which is there’s only a couple of schools that do that. But we are also providing scholarships for any PTA who they want to go on to get their DPT so there is a actual physical, like documentation style application, which you have to fill out as well as writing three short essay that include questions like What inspired you to become a physical therapist? And, you know, what does it mean to be a community member? And then also, you know, we really wanted to dive into the essence of who the scholars are. Because we feel like we want to invest in professionals who who are really going to want to make a difference in the profession. So the last question is talking about sort of a failure that you’ve experienced in your life and what you’ve really learned from that training. Did you know dive into a little vulnerability and understanding of who they are at the core of the person. And so you also need some letters of recommendation, and transcripts in the normal sort of thing that you might think about in going through a scholarship. So once you you send all of that information. We have a selection committee, which I’m really, really proud of. I was honored to gather quite a few thought leaders from the industry including a fossa, Joe Badea, Maria Gonzalez seen Sharon Wang is actually not from the industry. We wanted to bring together our selection committee, which I call our Beachcombers, hopefully see that sort of nautical theme here. Wendy HARO, who is a software engineer actually works with me with PT, Moyer Tillery, who is also a PT, and then Jean shamrock rod. And those folks make up our our base comers who were to which our selection committee, so we scour all of the applications that come in for each one of the scholarship programs. And we narrow it down to around 10 finalists, and each of the finalists and have to go through an actual live video interview with the selection committee. And from there, we then get the really tedious and hard, difficult decision to narrow it down to the three winners. We just went through the crash scholarship selection process, and it was absolutely amazing. And, and we we were able to narrow it down. But having been our first process, it was just an incredible experience. And we had so many great applicants that we actually ended up awarding five scholarship winners, three of the full scholar, scholarship cross winners, and then we actually started two new sub winners, which are the what we’re calling our rising stars, which actually got $5,000 scholarship towards their tuition and, and fees, they might be paying towards PT school.



That’s amazing. And how many people applied for the crest scholarship?



Yeah, you know, Karen, you know, all about startups right in that first, first year, you kind of are working out the kinks, you’re trying to figure out the right processes to have in place. And we had a fairly short window of about 60 days, 45 to 60 days that we opened up the application process this year, for our first cohort of crest winners. And our goal was to get 20 applicants. And after a social media polish and the PR, including, you know, me talking on a few podcast, we actually got 40 applicants which I was so so thrilled about. So we doubled the number that we wanted, then, obviously through that process, it’s was so great that we couldn’t actually just narrow down to three. So we actually awarded five scholarships and I I just wanted to give a shout out to the amazing scholars that did winner that are part of this first first cohort we had three winners from Northwestern University, Ruth Morales Flores is actually a second year students. Ricky Loki, who is a first year in Jackie Hua, who was a first year as well, just phenomenal, phenomenal students. And Alicia lead from Washington, St. Louis University and Tyrrel McGee, from Regis University. So a really broad spectrum of really interesting and thoughtful students who I know are going to make huge impact on the industry moving forward.



And you know, you had mentioned that part of the application process was interviews. So a lot you had the members of the committee interviewing 10 Different students and you’re reading through 40 different essays. So what did you learn about the PT education system through hearing from all of these applicants and the eventual winners of the scholarship program?



Well, for First and foremost, as I mentioned, one of the goals and the mission of rising tide is all about improving the diversity of the workforce within our industry. And so, obviously, you know, the number of students that have been accepted to PT school in order to really receive this scholarship and qualify for the scholarship has to be people of color. And so the fact that we were able to get the number of scholarships applications that we did, in such a short period of time, was amazing to me. And, and I attribute a lot of that to the physical therapy, schools really putting diversity as a high priority in terms of their recruiting process of really also trying to change the face of who we are, and to become less homogenous, and more reflective of the society in which we live in. And so that was a real, I want to say, eye opener, but but pleasant surprise, that, you know, despite the fact that we haven’t seen the numbers change, that it is something that is a huge priority, and is now after a few years of changing processes, and changing how the recruiting, where they’re recruiting from and how they’re actually going through the actual student selection process. For example, there are many schools now that are either eliminating, or D prioritizing SAP scores as an entry component, or GRE scores as it goes into graduate school, as a as a component of the process, and putting a higher priority on interview and essays and other things and more more, I guess, tangible areas of interest as they go through the, the selection process for their incoming classes. And so that was a that was really positive for me to really hear that. But it more than that, it was the passion that the students had for the industry. You know, I don’t think much has changed in terms of why people get interested in the PT field, most of them had had experiences, whether it was personal or with family members, that really sparked that inspiration to to go into the PT field. Some of the other things that were just amazing about these students is almost every single one of them were working full time jobs, at the same time as going through PT school, some of them more than one job. We heard stories of, you know, students who basically had to decide whether they were going to pay for food, or pay for a book. And so the determination and just the sheer passion around why the and what they’re able to do in order to accomplish their goals, was just astounding. And I don’t know that, you know, most people understand the sort of path that, you know, underserved populations sometimes have to take in order to accomplish those goals.



Yeah, that’s amazing. What a great group that you you got to meet. Now, after talking with these students, aside from the fact that hey, schools are kind of changing the weight of inclusion criteria, what further changes do you think need to be made within the industry? And on that, we’ll take a quick break to hear from our sponsor, and be right back with Heidi’s answer. When it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and increasing referrals, net Health’s Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found, get chosen and definitely get those five star reviews on Google. Net Health is a fun new offer. If you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic win. They will buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using Net Health private practice EMR, be sure to ask about its new integration. Head over to net forward slash li tz y to sign up for your complimentary marketing Audit?



Well, we know as, as we you, you started talking about in the beginning of the show is the student debt ratio that pte students are coming out with post graduation. We’ve seen that time and time again, in our state of rehab therapy industry report, as we surveyed, you know, 1000s, of therapist to understand their biggest woes, as they are navigating through this profession. And, you know, I, there’s a huge segment of of the folks that answered that survey that have more than $150,000 of debt post graduation. And that was a 5% increase over what we found those numbers to be in 2018. So just in a few years, that number has grown significantly. And so that’s to me, it’s just not sustainable. When you compare what the compensation is, for an average, you know, new grad, being somewhere between depending on the type of PT services that you’re delivering anywhere from 60 to 90 grand. That’s just not commensurate to be able to be able to live and then pay off that debt, which you know, $150,000 in PT school usually means on top of another 100 grand at minimum that you you’ve accumulated through undergrad. So we’re talking a huge, tremendous amount of debt. And so what I know is also happening is looking at shortening the timeframe in which it takes to get a doctorate degree, there are universities and colleges like South College, that are changing the way we think they’re trying to change the way we think about PT school, where it doesn’t have to be 100% in person that, you know, a large portion of the time spent can be done online. So that cuts down significant amount of debt in terms of having to pay for housing and other things. And it just becomes more accessible to more people, and decreases the cost of the overall educational process. So I really think that the cost of education, rethinking how we do the curriculum, of what truly is necessary to be in person are things that that really need to be looked



  1. Yeah, and when we talk about that sheer amount of, of debt, when I speak about that to other people, I always preface like, you know, like you said, Pts are coming out of school 50 to $90,000. It’s not like we work at Goldman Sachs, where in two years you get like $500,000 Bonus, do you know what I mean? And and why law paid off? Right? So it’s a little bit different PTS are not usually getting a $500,000 bonus. May I don’t want to, I don’t want to get yelled at by people on the internet. But I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen often.



No, I don’t think that happens very often. As a matter of fact, I think, you know, especially in the times that we’re in right now, you know, the the 5%. Five to maybe 10% increase year over year is probably what’s on average. So, you know, it’s gonna take you a while, especially if you’re you’re starting out as a new grad in that maybe 60 to 70 range to even get to the, you know, the six digit. Right. And so, yeah, it takes a lot to try to balance the price of education to what we actually are getting paid as, as clinicians.



Yeah. And and if there’s a really great book, Heidi, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of heard of this book, but it’s called Higher Education question mark. And it’s by Andrew hacker and Claudia Dreyfus. And they talk about the cost of higher education. And what are some of the extraneous things happening on college campuses that aren’t going directly to the education of the students, but yet is being reflected in the price of admission. So if people want to learn more about that, I would highly suggest reading that book.



Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot of debate happening right now around higher education and the need for it. You know, I know even within our own profession, there’s a lot of question marks around the DPT on whether it was worth it or not. But at the end of the day, we are here we are At level professionals, but we do need to figure out if we are going to continue to grow and have an attract the top talent that we want to continue to have our profession, you know, be recognized as adding, you know, tremendous value to the overall healthcare system. We definitely want to, you know, remain viable and relook and relook at how perhaps we’re doing some of the things because I just don’t think that the way the path that we’re on today is truly sustainable.



Yeah, I agree with that. And now, let’s say you’re a student out there, or you’re going into residency, how can they get more information to apply for upcoming scholarships? And is there are there any scholarship applications that are due soon?



Yes, I mentioned we have the crest scholars, but we also have the search Scholarship Program, which is for residency programs. And that current application process is open right now. And so it will be closing on January 14. So if you are a current resident residency program participant, and would like to apply for the surge scholarship, and you are a person of color, you can apply at res rising dash If you go to search scholarship on there and just hit the Apply button, it will take you right to the page in which you can fill out all of the information, upload any documentation that we’re requiring. And then we will definitely take a look at the application and put you into the process.



Yeah, so that means if you’re listening to that, listening to this podcast today, on the 10th, you have until the end of this week, so get on it if you want money to help you get through your residency, so you’ve got like you’ve got five days, so get on it.



And this is an annual annual renewal process. So we will launch a new cohort every year. So if you miss out this year, but you’re going through your residency programs, this year, you will get another chance at the end of this year to apply for the scholarship. And definitely any students out there who might be listening or interested in the field of PT, and you are going to be a new grad in this upcoming year of 2022. Or I’m sorry, a new student to PT school this year. And please, please, please think about offsetting some of that student debt through a scholarship program like rising tide.



Excellent. And now what’s new with the foundation? What do you have coming up aside from these amazing scholarship opportunities,



while being part of rising tide means you’re part of our community. And so one of the really awesome things that we are going to we are doing with our cohort is getting them together annually for sort of rising tide retreat in which we’re going to have thought leaders from the industry come together to help be mentors to these students. Each cohort will be building on itself. So as we have this first group of 2021 Slash 2022 go through this year, they will then come back and be be mentors to our next cohort of students that will be coming through so part of the sort of surge and crafts together where you’ve got, you know, physical therapists going through residency programs will help to be mentors to these up and coming students. And so creating this community of connection, and education is really what we’re planning through 2022.



I see what you did there. I like it, I like it. And now let’s say you’re a physical therapist like me, and you’re like, wow, I am loving this rising tide. How can I can I donate to this? Can I be a part of this? What can I do?



Yeah, that’s a great question. Karen and I, since launching this this past year in 2021, I just been so honored by the amount of outpouring of support that people have wanted to give to this program, including financial. I mentioned that it was self funded. And you know, We’ve had many, many years of scholarships that are going to be awarded. But with this outpouring of support of people who wanted to donate financially, I, I went ahead and change the 501 C three status to allow me to have donations. And so in March of 2022, we will be opening up the rising tide foundation to people who want to donate. And my hope is to actually double the number of scholarships that we’re going to be able to award in 2022, that we we were able to do in 2021. And so if we can continue to do that every year, so that would mean we would award 10 scholarships in 2022, rather than five for at least the cross scholarship and then four of the search scholars, I think that would be absolutely amazing. And as you can imagine, if we did that year over year, we would be funding almost every PT student in let’s say, 20 years.



Exactly. Hey, that’s that big blue sky dream, right? The be hag? Yes, yes, the big big dream. And and, and it’s a great dream to help future physical therapists not be saddled with the amount of student debt that a lot of students over the past couple of years have, unfortunately, had to deal with. So I think it’s a wonderful foundation. And I applaud you for taking the initiative to putting this out into the world. And again, where can people find Oh, you said it a couple times, and we will have a link to it in the show notes. But where can people find more about the scholarship and about rising tide?



Yep, it’s www dot rising with a Z r i v i n g dash And I’m sure many of you have heard the saying rising, a rising tide raises all boats. And that’s really where it came from. It’s something that has that thing has really meant a lot to me, in how I perform as a leader, and what I sort of prescribed to as sort of my own personal culture of wanting to help people. And so that’s where sort of the name sort of stems from. But yeah, go to rising And you can learn all about our foundation and scholarship program, you can sign up for our blog subscription, we have a monthly vlogs, coming out about all kinds of things that has to do with how students can improve sort of how they think about becoming a physical therapist, too, just thought provoking ideas as we go about wanting to sort of change the face of the PC profession.



Perfect. And I’ll also add that you’re also on Instagram, and on Twitter. So if you go to the website, you can go down to the bottom and click on the little icons, and you can follow rising tide on Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn as well. That’s right. Yeah, perfect. All right. Well, Heidi, as we start to wrap things up, I know, I asked you this before, so you’re gonna have to think of something new. What’s another piece of advice you would give to your younger self?



Well, I would just say be open minded to a path that you may not have thought that you might go down, go down. I will just say that, you know, starting a nonprofit, and a scholarship program was really not on on my radar. And as things have unfolded, just like starting in that entrepreneurial mindset, like it works in your professional life, as I’m sorry, it works in your personal life, as well as your professional life in terms of finding problems that need to be solved and figuring out a way to do that. And so stay staying really open minded to things that come your way that may not be necessarily what you think, or had planned to do. To find ways to just try to try new things and be open minded to those options and they can take you down path of trim adding tremendous value and to others but also just in, in in to yourself as well.



Yeah, excellent advice. keep your mind open. And if something aligns with with your vision and values, then go for it. Great advice. Heidi, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast today talking about rising tide. And again, if you’re going to mention this one more time, if you’re going into your residency program, check out rising tide, check out the website. We mentioned it several times, also in the show notes at podcast at healthy, wealthy, smart, calm and apply, because you’ve got a couple of days if you’re listening to this on the 10th of January 2022. You’ve got until the 14th to apply for the surge scholarship. Is that That’s right, right.



That’s right. Okay. Well, you got until the 14th until the midnight of the 14th and mentioned that you heard it on rising tide or on the healthy wealthy podcast. And we’ll just move you to the top of the stack.



Yes. So So do it. People get on it be a part of the rising tide. Heidi, thank you so much for coming on.



Karen, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you so much. Yeah,



of course. And everyone. Thanks so much for listening, have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy and smart. And a big thank you to Dr. Heidi Jenga for coming on the podcast to discuss the rising tide foundation and of course, thank you to Net Health. So again, they have a new offer if you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic when they will buy lunch for your office. Head over to net forward slash li te zy to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit to get your clinics online visibility, reputation and referrals increasing in 2022



Thank you for listening and please subscribe to the podcast at podcast dot healthy wealthy And don’t forget to follow us on social media

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