Employee Spotlight: Mike Burggraaf

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Employee Spotlight: Mike Burggraaf

Who doesn’t like to get to know their physical therapist? We want you to get to know Core Physical Therapy just a little bit better, and we’re starting by telling you a little bit about us! Over the next few months, we are going to have our staff introduce themselves in our blog. Enjoy!


Meet Mike

I am one of the founding partners of Core Physical Therapy. My tenure with Core started in 2004 when I opened the Adel location. At the inception of the Adel clinic, I was the only employee, so I acted as custodian, administrative assistant and physical therapist. The opportunity to open the clinic in Adel happened about three years after graduating from Des Moines University physical therapy program and after working for Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center and at the Tower Clinic at Des Moines University. In the 15 years that have passed since we started Core, we have grown from a staff of two therapists to having just hired our 13th physical therapist and have five administrative personnel.

After working in several clinics during school and earlier in my career, I became convinced that a clinic founded on treating people’s problems, rather than just their pain, would be successful. I’d seen too many patients struggle when the healthcare system just focused on what was hurting and not looking at the bigger picture of the total person. We came up with the name Core, as we thought it was the perfect one-word description of what our goal is: “Get to the CORE of the problem.” While we were convinced people would find our little private practice in Adel and West Des Moines, I didn’t envision the type of growth that we have seen to this point.

About six months ago, one of our therapists asked me, “Why do you do what you do?” I was taken aback by how simple of a question it was and yet how difficult it was to answer succinctly. After a few months of self‐reflection and study, my answer to him was, “To lead people to the WAY so that they use their gifts to better their lives and their world.” As a physical therapist, I try to lead people to a different way of thinking about how their body and their brains work so that they can live better lives within their community and family. As patients saw success with the Core Way, we started to get more demand for our service. In turn, more staff was needed in order to help more than just the eleven patients a day that I could treat on my own. As we hired young therapists, my role became showing them ways to add to the knowledge they gained in school. One of the most rewarding parts of my current position is seeing our therapists get excited when they can help patients with big problems and knowing that I played a small role in leading them toward their success.

Q+A: Get to Know Mike

  • What is something about you that would surprise people?

    • I have made five holes‐in‐one.  

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

    • My favorite part depends on what hat I’m wearing. As a therapist, figuring out how to help someone who has been unsuccessful in the past with dealing with their issues is hugely satisfying. As a mentor/manager, I love seeing therapists grow in their skills and watching their success like a proud papa.  

  • What is your dream vacation or trip?

    • My kids have been begging to go to Hawaii, so a family trip there would be amazing. I would also love to go on a golf trip to Bandon Dunes in Oregon.

  • What three items must your refrigerator contain?

    • Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies (always better chilled), eggs that I eat for breakfast almost every day, and the ingredients for chai tea lattes.

  • What is your favorite pastime?

    • Golf is my favorite pastime, but my wife got me started on playing tennis last fall and we have enjoyed doing that together this winter. I also enjoy watching my oldest son play soccer and saxophone and helping with his Powerlife (confirmation) group at church. I enjoy listening to my middle son play the piano and trombone as well as watching him fence. I like to watch my youngest play soccer and listen to him improve his piano skills.  

  • What is your guilty pleasure?

    • Reality TV. My wife and I have watched almost every episode of Survivor since the show started and we have a few more shows that I won’t publicly admit to watching!

  • Favorite book you've read or gifted to people the most?

    • My favorite leisurely read is without a doubt Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book I have gifted the most is The Case for Christ.  


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