Jonathan Filipe, D.P.T. ’16, Turned His Career Dreams Into Reality
Dr. Filipe Worked His Way From Outpatient Specialist to Head Trainer in The NBA
According to the National Athletics Trainers’ Association, there are approximately 50,000 practicing athletic trainers in the United States. Only 57 athletic trainers work for the National Basketball Association. Of those 57 is School of Health Sciences and Practice (SHSP) alum, Jonathan Filipe, D.P.T. '16.
Dr. Filipe was named the head athletic trainer for the Brooklyn Nets in September 2022. The road to a career in professional sports can be lengthy. Dr. Filipe spent five years in the outpatient orthopedic setting before making the transition. As a student in the D.P.T. program, he worked as a trainer for the largest physical therapy network in the Northeastern United States, Professional Physical Therapy. Upon graduating, he was interested in professional growth while learning from veterans in the field.
“My goal was to find a place that provided quality care and solid mentorship,” said Dr. Filipe.
He continued to work as a physical therapist for an orthopedic clinic until 2018, and once he felt confident in his technical skills, he was ready to take the next steps toward achieving his career aspirations.
“I’ve always wanted to do something fulfilling,” said Dr. Filipe. “I wanted to help people. I’ve always been interested in those who are able to sustain excellence.”
It doesn’t get much more excellent than the Olympics. Coincidentally, one of the three values of Olympism is excellence. Dr. Filipe completed a four-year cycle, or quad, as it is referred to in the Olympic community, as the associate director of sports medicine for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. He was the lead clinician at the Lake Placid Olympic and Paralympic Training Center and was on sight for both the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics.
This exposure to a high-profile sports environment provided Dr. Filipe with insight into acute injury management and general medicine. Equipped with new knowledge and a lifelong passion for soccer and basketball, he pivoted to professional team sports, specifically New York City Football Club of Major League Soccer. After one season with NYCFC, the opportunity with the Brooklyn Nets presented itself.
Now, halfway through his first NBA season, he is exactly where he pictured himself. Even after reaching a significant personal and professional milestone, Dr. Filipe maintains a proclivity for broadening his capabilities as a physical therapist.
“I’m still learning every day,” he said.
Dr. Filipe's approach had to change when he joined the Nets’ staff. The variety of injuries he sees has decreased from his time with the Olympic team. In his current capacity, Dr. Filipe is responsible for the preventative and rehabilitative care of a select group of players. He also manages the communication between the athletic training staff and outside medical providers and oversees the internal pharmacy along with the chief medical officer.
Dr. Filipe credits the problem-based learning curriculum offered through the D.P.T. program at NYMC for providing him with the tools to succeed. “
“Having clinical rotations that supplemented my learning was incredibly helpful,” said Dr. Filipe.
As a Valhalla native, he has been aware of NYMC’s reputation for educating professionals to be the best in their fields. The College has allowed him to foster long-lasting relationships that helped build the foundation for his network. Relationship building is one pillar of physical therapy that Dr. Filipe would emphasize to current students in the D.P.T. program.
“Go out of your way to genuinely build connections with people,” he said. “You never know who you will meet.”
Other advice he would offer to current students includes self-reflection.
“Ask yourself what you want out of a job and why,” he said.
He encourages students to make an effort to meet professionals that work in a field they want to pursue and pick their brains, saying that it could lead to a potential mentor-mentee relationship. Personal development and wellness are just as important to Dr. Filipe as his career.
“Find interests outside of PT that promote mindfulness, whatever that means to you,” he said. “This can help you become a better communicator and listener.”
Dr. Filipe’s career path is not one every D.P.T. student will choose to take, but his experience is the perfect example of taking advantage of the opportunities provided in SHSP that prepare students for future success.