Restoring warriors to their full potential Oct. 21, 2022

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas– Capt. Andrea Shefferly, 17th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron physical therapy and optometry flight commander, has always been heavily involved in sports. She and her four siblings played sports during college and consequently had a physical therapist on speed dial.

Growing up around an athletic lifestyle, the then-young Shefferly became fascinated with the human body, specifically exercising appropriately, and helping people reach their full potential.

“It’s interesting to see how treatments are used, and why they may affect the human body,” said Shefferly.

Her interest in the human body as well as the tragic events of 9/11 propelled her to serve in the military.  Shefferly lost her uncle in the terrorist attack and felt that service members had gone overseas for her family. Her admiration for the military inspired her to join the Air Force and protect the ones she holds dear.

 “My goal is to ensure excellent, reliable care so that my patients can go home to their family in better condition than they arrived, is extremely important to me,” said Shefferly. “The military is my family. I strive to take care of everyone and bring them back to their full potential.”

Shefferly is bringing this passion and care to the Operational Support Team.

The OST travels across the base and embeds into squadrons to improve access to preventative health. Goodfellow students have a busy schedule and traveling across the base to be seen can be inconvenient.  OST brings the treatment to them and encourages them to access medical care.

As the physical therapist, she improves the physical health of personnel, minimizing the need to put patients on restrictions, which could impact the 17th Training Wing’s mission. Other parts of the OST are focused on members’ mental health. The team tracks stressors, sleep habits, and other factors to gauge an individual's overall health.

“The OST optimizes the human weapon system,” said Shefferly. “We keep everyone functioning as well as possible and address their concerns. This way, the individuals can have the tools to continue their training and have their needs taken care of without having to coordinate their schedules and lose time coming into the clinic.”

Before becoming a physical therapist, she was a certified strength conditioning specialist. In that role, she felt compelled to stretch her knowledge and skills a little further.  She expressed the drive to develop the ability to diagnose her patients and help them take steps to improve their quality of life.

“The human body works perfectly together. Being able to see what I need to do as a physician along with the patient’s symptoms allows me to provide the best care possible, so they can get back to doing the things they love. It’s important that we treat both the individual and the symptom, giving them the tools to succeed.”

Shefferly focuses on educating people on physical therapy benefits and fighting stigmas.

“Don’t be scared to come to us,” said Shefferly. “Our job is to provide you treatment or preventative care, so you can maintain and lead healthy and active lives, while still being able to complete the mission.”