Since the age of 11, Nichele “Nikki” Keffler-Roa ’13, PT, DPT, PNF, CSCS, CMP, adjunct professor of physical therapy, knew she wanted to be a physical therapist. Her first introduction to physical therapy was through a knee injury, a torn medial collateral ligament, from playing soccer. She was inspired by the care and compassion shown by those that diagnosed and treated her injury.

When asked to reflect on her time at Pacific, the welcome address given by Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer immediately came to mind. He told the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students “from this point on whatever you do is no longer about you, it’s about your patients.” That mindset resonated with her. “That will stick with me forever,” Dr. Keffler-Roa said. As a physical therapist, her passion is for applying a deep, scientific understanding of human movement to help others reduce pain, rehabilitate injuries and prevent further injuries.

Dr. Keffler-Roa is proud to be a Pacific alumna and to continue to be engaged with the School. In addition to acting as an adjunct faculty member, she serves on the DPT interview committee. “I appreciate the opportunity and responsibility required to give appropriate insight involved in decisive contribution of potential candidate selection,” Dr. Keffler-Roa said. “I believe the requirements of a good practitioner are not only to identify pathoanatomy, pathomechanics and movement dysfunction, but to play witness to the holistic human condition.”

She emphasizes the necessity of nurturing the individual and believes that to pursue professional development one must first establish a personal foundation. From her experience, she has seen that Pacific’s DPT program embodies the philosophy of nurturing the individual and is open to diversity.

She strongly encourages Pacific’s DPT students to take advantage of the resources that are available to them as students. She said that “never again” would they have such ready access to seasoned professionals who are both focused on training future health care professionals and pursuing clinical research.


Not one to shy away from a challenge, Dr. Keffler-Roa has immersed herself in the highly demanding fields of neurological physical therapy and chronic pain management. She completed a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) residency at Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo. During that residency, she worked with patients recovering from a wide variety of highly involved neurological impairments.

Dr. Keffler-Roa currently is a senior physical therapist for the chronic pain department at Kaiser Permanente, Vacaville. She works diligently to treat and educate patients struggling with chronic pain and other neuromusculoskeletal diagnoses.

Dr. Keffler-Roa respects and is inspired by the research of Lorimer Moseley, PhD, professor of clinical neuroscience at University of South Australia. She recommends watching his entertaining and informative TEDx presentation to get a deeper understanding of chronic pain.

By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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